I have a question for us to discuss. What’s the deal with Underworld? I’d been under the impression that the movie sucked. I mean, sucked. As of today, it has a 30% rating at Rotten Tomatoes, with Roger Ebert declaring: “This is a movie so paltry in its characters and shallow in its story that the war seems to exist primarily to provide graphic visuals.”
Don’t get me wrong. There are plenty of great scifi movies out there that the fans love and the critics hate. And I love, love, werewolves versus vampires. Not werewolves alone or vampires alone, but werewolves versus vampires, that I’d pay money to see. But, leaving the critics aside, the word of mouth on this flick was terrible too.
So why is there a sequel? I mean, seriously? We never got Bladerunner 2, but this?
Here’s my theory: They’re trying to pull a fast one on us. Here’s how the scam works. A fan sees posters for a movie with a cool concept. It looks good, so the fan lets himself gets excited, but he’s been around long enough to know that the cooler the concept, the more unlikely that the filmmakers got the execution right, so he waits for the critical response. The critics end up hating it, but the fan’s been around long enough to know that the critics often hate what fanboys love the most, so he keeps his hopes level while he waits to hear the word of mouth from his even geekier friends who’ll shell out ten bucks to see anything with a futuristic babe in leather pants. But the word of mouth is lousy, too, so the fan scraps the whole idea.
Then a sequel appears. The fan starts to doubt his initial estimation of the movie zeitgeist. “Was that movie actually good?” It’s true that sometimes a movie just sneaks under our radar. Sometimes it seems like the movie that everyone seemed to hate last summer is now everyone’s favorite. Curious, the fan heads over to the rental store and picks up the first movie to see if it was actually any good. They wouldn’t make a sequel to a terrible movie, would they, the fan wonders? Sure, they’ll make a bad sequel to a good movie (Matrix Reloaded), and any number of bad sequels after that (Matrix Revolutions), but if the first movie is bad, why beat a dead horse?
The fan watches the first movie, and it stinks. Now the fan’s pissed, having wasted five bucks and two hours of valuable time. Worse, the fan kind of sort of has to go see the sequel now to see if maybe the screenplay was so much better than the first one that Hollywood simply couldn’t say no even though the initial film flopped. Lots of sequels are better than the originals, after all: Terminator 2, The Empire Strikes Back, Gremlins 2, etcetera.
Ten bucks later, the fan’s really angry, and Hollywood pats itself on the book for a marketing double-cross perfectly executed.
The worst part is, knowing all this won’t prevent me from renting Underworld tomorrow.