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

Their Finest Movie Review

Their Finest Movie Review

Skilfully written, directed and acted, this offbeat British period film tells a story that catches...

Unforgettable Movie Review

Unforgettable Movie Review

With heavy echoes of trashy thrillers like Fatal Attraction, this movie overcomes its painfully simplistic...

The Belko Experiment Movie Review

The Belko Experiment Movie Review

The kill-or-die scenario that this movie hinges on isn't something new; it's been used in...

The Fate of the Furious Movie Review

The Fate of the Furious Movie Review

With the more dumbed-down title Fast & Furious 8 outside of North America, this overcrowded...

A Quiet Passion Movie Review

A Quiet Passion Movie Review

British writer-director Terence Davies (The Deep Blue Sea) is an expert at digging beneath the...

The Sense of an Ending Movie Review

The Sense of an Ending Movie Review

Julian Barnes' Booker Prize-winning novel is adapted into a remarkably intelligent, gently involving film anchored...

The Boss Baby Movie Review

The Boss Baby Movie Review

There isn't a lot of subtlety in this madcap animated comedy, which is more aimed...

Advertisement
City of Tiny Lights Movie Review

City of Tiny Lights Movie Review

After the latest incarnation of Dredd, director Pete Travis shifts gears drastically for this complex...

Going in Style Movie Review

Going in Style Movie Review

This is only technically a remake of the iconic 1979 film starring movie icons George...

Graduation Movie Review

Graduation Movie Review

Romanian filmmaker Cristian Mungiu (4 Months, 3 Weeks and 2 Days) recounts another staggeringly detailed...

Ghost in the Shell Movie Review

Ghost in the Shell Movie Review

This sci-fi thriller is so visually stunning that it deserves to be mentioned in the...

Free Fire Movie Review

Free Fire Movie Review

Basically a 90-minute shoot-out, there isn't a lot to this movie. British filmmaker Ben Wheatley...

Life Movie Review

Life Movie Review

Like a mash-up of Alien and Gravity, this ripping sci-fi horror movie is very effective...

The Lost City of Z Movie Review

The Lost City of Z Movie Review

Based on a true story, it's the historical aspect of these events that holds the...

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.