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

Colossal Movie Review

Colossal Movie Review

It's rare to find a movie that so defiantly refuses to be put into a...

King Arthur: Legend of the Sword Movie Review

King Arthur: Legend of the Sword Movie Review

It's unlikely that Guy Ritchie could make a boring movie if he wanted to. This...

Snatched Movie Review

Snatched Movie Review

It doesn't really matter that the script for this lively action-comedy is paper thin: teaming...

Jawbone Movie Review

Jawbone Movie Review

Boxing movies aren't usually this thoughtful. Sure, there are plenty of punchy moments in the...

Whisky Galore! Movie Review

Whisky Galore! Movie Review

Scottish filmmaker Gillies MacKinnon (Hideous Kinky) remakes the 1949 Ealing comedy classic, although it's difficult...

Alien: Covenant Movie Review

Alien: Covenant Movie Review

Master filmmaker Ridley Scott is back to continue the story 10 years after the events...

The Journey (2017) Movie Review

The Journey (2017) Movie Review

A fictionalised account of real events, this drama is reminiscent of Peter Morgan's work in...

Advertisement
Sleepless Movie Review

Sleepless Movie Review

In remaking the 2011 French thriller Sleepless Night, the filmmakers have dumbed down both the...

Unlocked Movie Review

Unlocked Movie Review

By injecting a steady sense of fun, this slick but mindless action thriller both holds...

Lady Macbeth Movie Review

Lady Macbeth Movie Review

A seriously impressive feature directing debut with a star-making central performance, this period British drama...

Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 Movie Review

Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 Movie Review

It was never going to be easy to match the impact of 2014's Guardians of...

The Promise Movie Review

The Promise Movie Review

The director of Hotel Rwanda, Terry George, turns to another humanitarian horror: the systematic murder...

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...

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.