Let’s see what it was like back then… …back then… …back then…
I figure they had no idea where to go with the narrative after the second entry, so they churned out a prequel that offers little to no new information.
Well, that’s not entirely true. We find out that vampires are inept and moronic creatures.
We follow Lucian (Michael Sheen reprises his role) as he is enslaved by Viktor (Bill Nighy) and falls in love with Viktor’s daughter Sonja (Rhona Mitra, who they make look like Kate Beckinsale’s stunt double). Anyone who has seen the first film already knows this story, so why this one was made isn’t entirely clear.
What is clear is that in an effort to coopt the African American slave experience the narrative throws out any common sense. It makes no sense as to why the Lycans are enslaved, or why they accept their chains. It seems they are locked up during the day… so… how are they the daylight guardians? The whole thing smacks of a trying too hard to show that slavery is bad (duh…) and in trying to prove this thesis everything else falls away.
I think we are meant to see Lucian as a martyr (we have not one but two scourging scenes with him), but this doesn’t hold water. He is more than happy to be a slave when he is given some privileges, and only becomes a savior to his race once he is treated equally as bad as the rest of them.
I might be too hard on the film, but anytime a narrative conjures images of slavery, revolt, and racism (or is it specism here?) it should be held to a higher standard.
It doesn’t help that Viktor is so stunningly inept it is amazing he wasn’t killed by his own followers. He breeds a new race of werewolves, enslaves them, baits them into revolt, and ends up getting just about everyone killed. How he could possibly be this moronic is simply stunning. However, they had to make him a complete idiot for anything else to make any sense here. Lucian was super happy as a privileged slave, so of course Viktor has to screw this one up. We have to wonder why Amalia or Marcus didn’t kill Viktor after this mess.
I think this is a problem with a lot of fantasy stories. They decided that Viktor needs to be the bad guy and bent everything around fitting that need. Granted, it would be hard to justify slavery, but why have the war start with slavery and not forbidden love? So much of this series is trying to be Romeo and Juliet with werewolves and vampires, so why add the unneeded racial elements? There certainly isn’t any commentary on them to justify their use. At best, the narrative ties in slave-narrative elements to cheaply force audience sympathy.
I’m not talking about the plot a lot because there isn’t one. Lucian loves Sonja, Viktor kills Sonja, war starts. That is it. That. Is. It. All the CGI and set-designs (which are nice) don’t cover up that the film had a paper-thin plot (for a series that already lacked in this regard).
Prequels rarely add anything to a world—in my opinion. Here, it just seems like they’re going through the motions to keep the franchise going rather than push it into a new direction.
The first two entries provide enough silly fun to be justified on a lazy day. Fiends for more of this world will find enough to enjoy here, but for those who haven’t bought into the franchise I see few converts. However, I don’t think this film is simply fan service. Rather, it seems to just be a cash grabs at a recognizable trademark. (You might see these two things as one in the same, but I think there is a slight difference).
The series has gotten lazy rather than sloppy. This is a bad sign.