I was skeptical about “Philip K. Dick’s Electric Dreams” (2017), and I’m not sure why — maybe because I assumed it would be a failed and shameless imitator of “Black Mirror” (2011). But I’m happy to be proven wrong — the first episode was damned good. It isn’t quite as good as “Black Mirror” (the success of which doubtlessly helped this series reach fruition), but it looks like it could be a great show in its own right. (None other than Ron Moore and Bryan Cranston are among the producers for “Electric Dreams,” so that should make us optimistic about the show’s quality.)
I’d rate the first episode a 9 out of 10. (The entry I’m referring to here is the “Episode 1” with which Amazon Video audiences will be familiar — the episodes appeared in a different order when this series first aired last year on Britain’s Channel 4.) It’s got a great cast, including Anna Paquin, Lara Pulver, and the incredible Terrence Howard. (His acting skills are among the best I’ve ever seen.) And its story is damned neat, even if it employs a Dick story device that we’ve already seen in some other adaptations. (Can I write “Dick story device” without my Facebook friends snickering?)
I’m not sure what to say about “Underworld: Blood Wars” (2016). It really differs little from the previous “Underworld” movies. If you’ve seen those, you’ve kinda seen this one.
The vampires look like underwear models, or maybe a goths-only high school drama club. The werewolves look … not homeless, exactly, but like burly, long-haired, unemployed grunge rockers. Both groups speak portentously and repeatedly about things like “LINEAGE” and “BLOOD LINES” and “THE WAR” and “AMELIA.” (Who was Amelia again?) There are the requisite betrayals and forbidden inter-species romances. The entire thing felt like a feature-length music video.
Maybe I’m being too harsh. I would actually give this film a 5 out of 10 for at least bringing some good things to the table. Kate Beckinsale is a good actress, and she brings the same magnetism that she always does to Selene, the franchise’s protagonist. Charles Dance is always superb, and is always fun to watch. (There are at least two “Game of Thrones” alumni here — one is Dance as a vampire elder, and the other is Tobias Menzies as the leader of the “Lycans.”) The nicest surprise, though, was seeing Lara Pulver as an ambitious vampire alpha female — fans of “Sherlock” (2010 – 2017) will recognize her as that series’ incarnation of Irene Adler. She’s a great actress, and she seems to relish this kind of role.
All in all, though, I can’t say I actually recommend this.