If you've never been in my office, then you might not know that I'm fond of the Underworld movies (why are UK movie posters so much cooler than the US ones ?)
Usually, by the time a movie franchise, especially a multi-hundred million dollar franchise, hits III or 3, or Episode VI, or Last Crusade, or worst of all Revolutions, the combination of excess, greed, and dearth of ideas has all but destroyed the what was originally great about the the whole thing. Not always, but generally by the third movie, if you haven't lowered your expectations, they will be disappointed.
So I headed off to see Underworld III with a co-worker with pretty low expectation. Not as low as they might have been, because the second movie was, in my opinion, pretty solid. Make that really solid. Great effects, lots of dark, rich imagery, plenty of action.
Underworld III is prequel, which usually makes it harder in my opinion, because you're telling a story in a space that no matter how much you half-assed the backstory, is already partially full. And in Underworld, Viktor's daughter dies, and yet, she's a central character in Underworld II. That constraint could have really been hard to work around, however, it seems like just the opposite happened.
Given a closed-end story to tell, the movie does that just. Obviously a story about vampires and werewolves isn't going to be believable, but the story that gets told fits well into the rest of the mythos of the franchise. And a that franchise, which drew almost as heavily on hi-tech lethal gadgets as tight black leather, stays away from equipping the vampires and werewolves of the middle ages with ridiculously out-of-place weapons. Instead, this is actually, well, it's a story about people. And no one plays their part better than Bill Nighy as Viktor.
The bottom line- while I'm pretty sure there aren't any Oscars in this movie's future, for a third installment it's actually a good movie. By the time you read this, of course, it will probably already be out of the theatres...