(In theaters, September 2003) Let’s take care of one thing right away: Yes, Kate Beckinsale is quite fetching in a series of latex suits that look as if they’ve been poured on her. She’s adorable as a kitten as she slinks around in the dark, her damp hair highlighting her vampire-white face. Good. Alas, that’s almost the only thing worth contemplating at length in Underworld, one of the sorriest waste of potential yet seen this year. Every five minutes or so, the script, the design or the director shows some sign of promise, which is then buried under a mass of unremarkable normalcy. Blade and its sequel certainly proved that there was something fresh and exciting to be done with the vampire mythos; Underworld is even more disappointing as it finds nothing new to do with both vampires and werewolves. (Instead, we have people posing as vampires or werewolves) The movie certainly looks great if you only watch thirty seconds of it; the gothic design and the dark, quasi monochrome black-and-blue atmosphere gives it an interesting style. Problem is, it’s a one-note trick played during the film’s entire duration. There are no daylight scenes in the film, and this monotony eventually becomes tiresome. There are no reasons (beyond creative laziness, that it) why the palette of the film should be so limited. Eventually, it all blurs into nothingness. But far worse than the look are the characters, a bunch of indistinguishable Europeans with no singular characteristics. The villain is especially dull, and Beckinsale’s character herself isn’t much more than a shapely body with a latex coating: she never cracks a joke or even shows a hint of personality. The action is repetitive (guns, guns, guns and not very sexy guns either), once again failing in comparison with the Blade series. It’s not that Underworld is completely worthless; it’s just that it barely shows glimpses of something much, much better, hiding in the shadows.