I’m reminded of a few months back, in The Matrix: Reloaded, when the Oracle informed us that all sorts of paranormal phenomena were actually malfunctioning programs run rampant. Listed among these extraordinary creatures were werewolves and vampires, subject of much legend and myth, though they didn’t take literal form in the blockbuster sequel. Taking the basic vampire/werewolf concept and trying to amp it up by a modern, blast-’em-up approach, but fumbling quite dramatically, are the filmmakers behind Underworld (H and 1/2 out of four).
The film tries to give us a mix of Matrix-styled action and gothic intrigue with a fantasy and horror flavor, but ends up as some kind of mushy, nasty backwash not worthy of the comparison either to classic tales of the undead or to the aforementioned, much imitated Matrix films. But comparisons will be natural when what you have here is such a derivative work, an effort so dependent on the methods and motifs of other, much better movies.
Thirteenth Step ( * * * 1/2 out of four) is the sophomore effort from the band A Perfect Circle, the follow-up to their smash debut from 2000, Mer de Noms. On their previous release, they strove to deflect the common notion that APC was simply a "side project" for singer Maynard James Keenan, lead vocalist for the hard rock band Tool. Mer de Noms, with songs composed by Keenan and Billy Howerdel (a former guitar tech for Tool, among other bands), proved with that they were a distinct, viable group, but some fans saddled them with the label "too commercial," especially in contrast to Tool’s rather extreme tastes in song length and complexity. Thirteenth Step, is not a reaction to this criticism, but a self-contained journey into survivor’s psyche.
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