If nothing, Underworld 4 is a prime example of a numerous amount of small mistakes that are common in most sequels. While they avoided most of them to this point [Arguably, some will say these apply to the 3rd movie as well- not in my opinion], it was inevitable that eventually it would surface when too many sequels came to light.
For starters, it's not the same series. While the first three presented an atmosphere of Old World grunge and charm, the switch to modern high-tech era leaves the die-hard fan feeling as if they are watching a "Resident Evil" movie, rather than an "Underworld". In fact, the only environment that takes you back to that "Underworld"- both figuratively and literally- are the brief scenes in the Vampire coven. Which now, only look so out of place with a modern high-tech feel that the film carries. If this had been the only issue in the film, as we address the feeling of "evolution" from one era of Vampire lore to the next, it might have not been such a sore point. Sadly, it was this issue that lead the other smaller issue into fruition, and became the cause for a very poorly executed film.
For starters, the film's timing is poor. From low key scenes to bangs of violence, there isn't much leading into one dramatic point, or intelligent dialogue like in the first 2 films [I'm excluding the 3rd film due to its main characters and setting- they did not directly involve Selene and Michael]. Rather than having a suspense with plot reveal, the movie plays out like a very choppy video game- we have a small scenes where we have [supposedly] character development, then your off banging werewolves and uniformed guards until you reach another short and brief non-interactive scene.
Second we have the issue with the actors: While these films were not known for Oscar winning performances, we have now begun to accept poor acting as simply the "Characteristic of the genre". What most film makers forget, is that B movies of their time were not "poor" due to poor acting, they were "poor" due to budget. Now, we have become poor due to investment into CG creatures and effect, and no acting [remember, Christopher Lee delivered a chilling performance in his movies. Never once deliberately trying to act poor... how is it that we have stapled poor acting as something expected of sci-fi and horror films?]
The Vampire Coven leader was a bad shadow attempt at recreating Viktor without actually being Viktor. Bill Nighy's capture of the cruel melodramatic and strange Coven Lord was probably the edge or concept they wanted to reflect in the new character, but it paled as simply that- a bad attempt to capture something that is very unique to Mr. Nighys portrayal. Rather than create a new Coven Lord character- perhaps not as cookie cutter- and let the new actor [who also physically was dressed to be reminiscent of Viktor] create a new type of character, they tried to settle in on something familiar to probably make the already estranged movie feel more like the original series. What they did was make a character who doesn't demand a presence, has no authority, and ultimately makes the entire audience think "That's not Viktor". If they created something new, we wouldn't have had the need to compare to begin with.
Another character that was poorly executed was the redundant Detective. He served as 2 plot points and nothing more, not even delivering a believable performance to begin with. Trying to parallel a Lucian-Sonjya romance, it falls flat and almost repetitive to the expected "just like in the first movie" concepts that this film was riddled with. He could have easily been written out... having Selene's inquisitive and intellectual capacity to find information on computers [she had a laptop in the first movie!] to acquire the information that he reveals to her. He is a redundancy.
Another redundancy was the lead doctor- the Lycan who has an entire genetic corporation at his fingertips, and makes his son into the SuperLycan. The plot reads better on Wikipedia when you have someone explaining to you intentions of all the characters, rather than watching this film. Apparently, his reasons for wanting to create his superlycan son are that of conservation of the lycan species, and a tad of genetic superiority [the wife chose to remain a "human".. so ultimately, she left them. Tear shedding? No.]
Really? Since when were Lycans trying to commit a superior race competition with the vampires? Wasn't their origin of a more noble cause? If this is the SAME country [Hungary/Carpathian region] that the film's plot has been unfolding in for the last 3 movies, then the Lycans abound are all somehow tied into Lucian's history. If this is a different country, then how did they have Lycans to begin with? And since when did Lycans have their kind of technology and brains to develop an ENTIRE genetics corporation? We knew the VAMPIRES had it... but the lycans? The best they had was a doctor who had a splitting resemblance to Svante Paabo, and he was killed off in the first movie. Everyone else remained somewhat of the low-brow bloke with the exception of Michael- a physician in training who hasn't been around for the last 12 years. So you are telling me, in 12 years of genetic cleansing of both species, the Lycans found a way to create a genetic corporation, with cutting edge technology and scientists for the cause of genetic superiority? I'd RATHER they hired the Umbrella corporation. Even THAT would make more sense.
With every plot "twist", this movie only asks far more and more question, and gives no believable or comprehensible answers.
Don't even get me started on the nurse who has clear feelings for Eve as she "raised" her and grew attached to her. A good idea totally skewed and forgotten in the waste of all the lycan bodies and bad acting.
Selene was the most disappointing take in the overall feature. The direction on the character's emotions are clearly evident with the changing of Directors, and the incapacity of them to actually connect with the character's fundamentals. Some scenes with her are so gross and cheesy, that one cannot help to feel she is trying to be "Sookie Stakehouse" in "Trueblood", rather than "Selene" in "Underworld" [here, I'm making note of the Cover Lord and his son arguing over the girl, as she stands, wide eyed and paralyzed, looking off into the distance]. Typical to the Film Noir Artsy Froofroo films of the Scandinavians, you can only begin to pick apart how many scenes are so evident of the 2 Scandinavian director's origins.
You also have the horrible capacity for them to capture a female in a leading role who now has a new real-world obstacle to face; one that every woman does come to eventually in life. How can one continue to be a Hunter when you have the duties and responsibilities of a mother? This is where the film fails the worst. The writers and the directors are all men [with the exception of one woman who no doubt caters to the male mind set in order to make it so far in the industry]. These men are trying to figure out what a woman in Selene's situations would do. Rather then grip reality [George Lucas? you Listening as well?] that women would prefer and instinctually guard, defend, and fight for survival of their children over their personal relationships, they make her more attuned to what a man would do- put the child's care 2nd, after personal conquest, and spit out dialoged of "She's the most important thing in the world" and "I will not let anything happen to her" in that typical male "say it but don't act it" routine that most women have become tired of.
No. Get this through your thick skulls: women who WANT to have children, as well as carriers, and spouses will still make a clear distinction in priorities- kids comes first. And she CAN do that while kicking ass in her leather outfit, and worrying about the well being of their spouse. To believe that Selene will be scaling building walls in elevator shafts, as her daughter is about to be dissected, while she is INFORMED that they are about to do so... that's the male action-hero ego speaking loud and clear in the film.
The only scene believable of Selene's conflict of emotion is when her daughter confronts her about it... her response is gold. She " isn't cold, she's heartbroken". That answer- of a grieving wife- is perfect and well rounded and true. The delivery of that 4 second dialogue is erased with a 40 minute long action sequence that follows, with Selene abandoning her child at every given take.
Oh, and walking in to see your daughter cutting herself? Another bad stereotype of the "emo girl" persona that many sci-fi [male] directors and writers have got to lose. The daughter [whom is named Eve by official sources, but never in the film] is painted do be reminiscent of the girl from "The Ring" and even in her Hybrid form, she looks more like a gothic Lolita with a bad case of blue skin, rather than a beast. Another by product of the male-dominant genre; a female has to look particularly effeminate and sexy, even if she is a beast. Can we NOT breed some originality into our concepts? Could we NOT see some prosthetic mouth piece [like we did on Michael in the 2nd movie]? Can we NOT make a woman a little hairy and shaggy to get her beastliness out there? No. She just has to wear black lip-stick and stick-on nails.
The CG effects were also not as cutting edge- and the obvious difference of CG Lycans and Animatronics suits are an eye-sore difference. As a fan of the old school Horror Genre, I would rather see the giant foam beasts than the CG rubbery and all to flexible ghosts. The change in design is so painfully obvious, that you almost think the "rat lycans" are of a new breed, vs the "old world" Lycans of the suits.
The only saving grace on the actor's side is the girl playing Eve. When not in the "Gothic Lolita" hybrid from, she is a fantastic selection for Selene's daughter- she mimics Selene's walk down to the T, and her character reminds you that of Sonja and Selene when they were far more innocent and young. Yet, when in full hybrid rage, her fighting is spot on to Michael's... leading you to really believe that this child is the perfect outcome of the Selene and Michael relationship.
It was clear the decided to select the 2 Swedish directors as an attempt to capture some style of storytelling genre that American film makers do not have. Specifically, they wanted gorier and slightly perverse- something that Scandinavian horror and thriller films seem to be putting out there recently. "Girl with the dragon tattoo" [original versions] as well as "let the right one in" show you how far these people are willing to go to get the violent crimes, perverse realities, and morbid situations out there. Something that bodes well for a series that bases itself on "pumping up" every feature. Sadly, this drastic change in direction only led to the creation of a plot for the sake of having something new to work with, rather than trying to play off the old and continue to develop it. The end result, we have a new problem with an unbelievable background story, convoluted ideas that are not within the original movie's conceptual ideas and consistencies, and bad execution with poor acting, redundant characters, all to get us to the climax of the film: A giant Superlycan that is over 9000.
While there might be some who will try and dissect the film with antithetical elements- Coven Lord with son vs Viktor who had 2 daughters, the male roles vs female roles, etc- this movie doesn't give us enough subject of ground for good debate, and poorly matches up to the mono-myth for a female body that the originals were.
On a personal level: I thought I would be pleased so long as Michael and Selene were together, and still battling the world with a semblance of equality between them- something that few films and even fewer in this genre would support and reflect [Monogamous couple? Believable female lead? Equality between the husband and wife? Seriously, no movie out there like this]. Sadly, while this remians somewhat in tact, the execution of this 4rth movie was so poor that I feel nothign for it, nor any seuqals to be birthed as a result. Another wonderful example of folks who needed to quite while they were a head.
On one last note: Scott Speedman, get your ass back into this series before they try and conjure up another 2 horrible movies trying to avoid participation of the main male lead... the stand in is cute and convincing at a glance, but it's killing the franchise.
On the other hand, you might be right in avoiding this inevitable disaster.... but at least we can see our familiar characters in said disaster.
I will cry tears. Salty salty tears.