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Underworld: Rise of the Lycans

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Director Patrick Tatopolous makes this prequel to the previous two Underworld films seem like some kind of holocaust drama. Not that a movie about werewolves rising up against their cruel vampiric masters can’t or shouldn’t play it straight, but it requires a deft touch that Tatopolous lacks. So when the movie awkwardly becomes an allegory for real-life race relations, it’s hard to know whether to laugh or be appalled as head vampire Viktor (Bill Nighy) calls werewolf Lucian (Michael Sheen) a credit to his race. Series star Kate Beckinsale wisely passed on this nonsense. Instead, we get Rhona Mitra as female vampire (and Viktor’s daughter) Sonja, and she’s every bit as wooden here as she was in last year’s Doomsday. The first two films in the series weren’t great, but at least they offered up some fun and excitement. This is just a dreary and pointless visualization of a backstory about which no one really cares. H

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