Underworld

"Terrible"

Underworld Review


"Underworld" might have been one bad-ass B-movie, if only its plot about a war between vampires and werewolves had been seen by co-writer/director Len Wiseman as anything more than a token gimmick on which to hang "Matrix"-mimicking action and antiquated genre clichés.

Thick with mold-breaking potential that goes completely unexplored, the picture is populated by cardboard cutouts of aristocratic, clownishly Goth-fashioned bloodsuckers and sunken-eyed, greasy-haired, heavy-metal headbanger-styled lycans (a fancy word for werewolves). The two races exhaust every trite and tired facet of their respective horror folklore in a story that has obviously, and rather clumsily, had elements edited out -- including a romance between warrior vampiress Selene (Kate Beckinsale) and Michael (Scott Speedman), a human with werewolf ancestry.

When Kraven (ravenous scenery glutton Shane Brolly) -- the conniving, devious, temporary leader of the vampires while their sovereign is entombed in hibernation -- orders the human killed because his DNA could change the course of the centuries-old war, Selene risks her life to save the guy for reasons that aren't entirely clear in this final version of the film.

Many hard-rock accompanied, hand-cannon shootouts ensue -- in bloody slow-motion, of course -- between these leather-clad nightstalker factions in the bowels of an unnamed city. For these scenes, Wiseman seems to have studied the shrapnel-strewn, endless-ammo gunfights of "The Matrix," frame by frame, and copied them here as closely as possible on his transparently smaller budget. For most of the other scenes, he simply falls back on uninspired genre conventions like heavy-shadow lighting, gross over-acting and ham-fisted dialogue.

"You're acting like rabid dogs!" scolds the werewolf leader to his misbehaving hoards. "You're incompetence has become most taxing!" fumes the coffin-dehydrated vampire king (Bill Nighy, who rises above the material with a unflappably ominous performance) after being awakened by Selene in the hopes of derailing Kraven's nefarious plan to usurp power. Blah, blah, blah.

Apparently trying to part ways with her romantic-comedy sweetheart screen image, Beckinsale ("Serendipity") stitches her eyebrows in seething seriousness and shrinkwraps herself in black vinyl to gun-fu her way through the disjointed yet utterly predictable plot involving secret alliances and assassinations of vampire royalty.

But while first-time director Wiseman does what he can to make his miscast star seem formidable, Beckinsale hasn't much character to work with. A vampire with a conscience just isn't terribly mesmerizing in an action movie. Only Speedman, in the film's gender-swapped damsel-in-distress-type role, has a more featureless part to play.

A few brief flashes of creativity are peppered throughout "Underworld" (a couple imaginative stunts, ultraviolet bullets that fry vampires from the inside out -- but are never used). But such moments don't add up to much in a in the hands of a director so disinterested in fresh ideas that he's even willing to settle for werewolf transformation effects that barely measure up to the stop-motion and makeup used 25 years ago in "An American Werewolf in London."



Underworld

Facts and Figures

Genre: Sci fi/Fantasy

Run time: 121 mins

In Theaters: Friday 19th September 2003

Box Office USA: $51.5M

Box Office Worldwide: $95.7M

Budget: $22M

Distributed by: Sony Screen Gems

Production compaines: Screen Gems, Lakeshore Entertainment, Laurinfilm, Subterranean Productions LLC, Subterranean Productions UK Ltd., Underworld Produktions GmbH

Reviews

Contactmusic.com: 1 / 5

Rotten Tomatoes: 31%
Fresh: 49 Rotten: 110

IMDB: 7.0 / 10

Cast & Crew

Director:

Starring: as Selene, as Michael Corvin, as Lucian, as Kraven, as Viktor, as Singe, as Erika, as Kahn, as Dr. Lockwood, as Raze, Zita Görög as Amelia, Scott McElroy as Soren, Michael Todd Schneider as Trix, as Pierce, Mike Mukatis as Taylor

Contactmusic


Links



Advertisement

New Movies

Star Wars: The Last Jedi Movie Review

Star Wars: The Last Jedi Movie Review

After the thunderous reception for J.J. Abrams' Episode VII: The Force Awakens two years ago,...

Daddy's Home 2 Movie Review

Daddy's Home 2 Movie Review

Like the 2015 original, this comedy plays merrily with cliches to tell a silly story...

The Man Who Invented Christmas Movie Review

The Man Who Invented Christmas Movie Review

There's a somewhat contrived jauntiness to this blending of fact and fiction that may leave...

Ferdinand Movie Review

Ferdinand Movie Review

This animated comedy adventure is based on the beloved children's book, which was published in...

Brigsby Bear Movie Review

Brigsby Bear Movie Review

Director Dave McCary makes a superb feature debut with this offbeat black comedy, which explores...

Battle of the Sexes Movie Review

Battle of the Sexes Movie Review

A dramatisation of the real-life clash between tennis icons Billie Jean King and Bobby Riggs,...

Shot Caller Movie Review

Shot Caller Movie Review

There isn't much subtlety to this prison thriller, but it's edgy enough to hold the...

Advertisement
The Disaster Artist Movie Review

The Disaster Artist Movie Review

A hilariously outrageous story based on real events, this film recounts the making of the...

Stronger Movie Review

Stronger Movie Review

Based on a true story about the 2013 Boston Marathon bombing, this looks like one...

Only the Brave Movie Review

Only the Brave Movie Review

Based on a genuinely moving true story, this film undercuts the realism by pushing its...

Wonder Movie Review

Wonder Movie Review

This film may be based on RJ Palacio's fictional bestseller, but it approaches its story...

Happy End  Movie Review

Happy End Movie Review

Austrian auteur Michael Haneke isn't known for his light touch, but rather for hard-hitting, award-winning...

Patti Cake$ Movie Review

Patti Cake$ Movie Review

Seemingly from out of nowhere, this film generates perhaps the biggest smile of any movie...

The Limehouse Golem Movie Review

The Limehouse Golem Movie Review

A Victorian thriller with rather heavy echoes of Jack the Ripper, this film struggles to...

Advertisement
Artists
Actors
    Filmmakers
      Artists
      Bands
        Musicians
          Artists
          Celebrities
             
              Artists
              Interviews
                musicians & bands in the news
                  actors & filmmakers in the news
                    celebrities in the news

                      Go Back in Time using our News archive to see what happened on a particular day in the past.