Tuesday, January 27, 2009

Underwhelmed 3: The Rise of the Nighy

JCVD does his split.
Schwarzenegger has his accent.
The Rock raises an eyebrow.

But no man can pivot like Bill Nighy.

After spending $15 on My Bloody Valentine 3D (of which the awesomeness was simple and pure and everything it should have been so read about it elsewhere) the thought of an increased priced ticket to cover glasses that blatantly warn you not wear them in the sun seemed like the perfect reason to sneak into a vampire movie. While Frank Lang-acula WAS puffing his cheeks next door in Frost/Nixon and I wouldn’t have minded a shot at spotting a rare Clint Howard cameo, my lovely friend Erica and I decided to see that other Michael Sheen film. The one with the leather.

Quick Plot: Vampires are jerks. Snobby, blue-eyed jerks who perhaps are meant to represent American plantation owners of the antebellum period or the natural progression of goth kids if they were to somehow amass power and castles. Their chief duties appear to be holding councils, shaking down silver miners for booty to kill werewolves with, and abusing human slaves, some of whom (or perhaps all, I wasn't quite clear) are Lycans. Bill Nighy is Viktor, best-dressed and therefore leader of the vampires (although I think this particular clan should be called vamp-eYres, with an stress on the last syllable as pronounced by Andrew on Buffy), and father to the dark-haired Sonja, whom I, having never seen a Kate Beckinsdale film, assumed was actually Kate Beckinsdale (this is what movies get for putting cast credits at the end). Aside from looking good and pivoting in ridiculous grand style, Viktor's biggest hobby seems to be playing fetch with the fetchingly shirtless Sheen’s Lycan Lucien. 

There’s a forbidden interspecies romance, a valiant uprising, and several scenes of mild whipping that probably amuse some audience goers more than others. I've never seen an Underworld film and I don't really have a sunburning desire to see more, but that being said, this is good at what it does. Sheen gives a far better performance than you normally come to expect from a genre film. The man’s a good actor, but more importantly, he takes his work seriously, regardless of the content. NY Newsday recently ran an interview with him where writer and snob Frank Lovelace (relation to Linda: unknown) made some rather condescending remarks about the Underworld series, to which Sheen vigorously jumped to its defense with class.  

The guy has seriously earned my respect (plus he probably looks much better topless than Clint Howard).

High Points:
A neat little getaway scene that gets inconveniently halted by spears

As someone whose opinion of filmic werewolves generally ranges from ‘low utterance of meh’ to ‘higher pitched meh,’ the Lycans fell somewhere in the upper register of meh (until they devolved into CGI bass mehs. Meh is not a good rating system, is it?).

Low Points:
The heavy metal video editing makes Saw look like Casablanca.

A sex scene that involves a werewolf and vampire dangling over a cliff in the rain has no reason not be hot. But it’s not.

Lessons Learned:
Rhina Mitra looks an awful lot like Kate Beckinsdale. I guess. Wait, that’s really NOT Kate Beckinsdale?

Liberace’s costume designer comes from a long line of vampires

Never give Kevin Grevioux dialogue if you don’t want the audience to laugh at the inhuman depth of his voice.

Vampires suck (figuratively, and a little literally).

Full Price/Sneak In/Stay Home
Haughty Naughty Nighy is a 60 year-old British thespian and now a life-sized cardboard cutout on the poster for an action film about vampires. That should be reason enough to sneak in, plus, he wears spangles. In medieval Europe. And he pivots. A lot. You can live without this movie, but a little Nighy does make the world a better place. 

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