Underworld (2003)

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6.5 Overall Score
Story: 6/10
Visuals: 7/10
Acting: 7/10

Some nice visuals, Kate Beckinsale

Overly complex story, bad editing, bad looking werewolves

 
Movie Info

Movie Name:  Underworld

Studio: Lakeshore Entertainment

Genre(s): Sci-Fi/Fantasy/Action/Adventure

Release Date(s): September 19, 2003

MPAA Rating: R

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Come with me if you want to live!

The war between the vampires and the lycon is escalating.  When a vampire Death Dealer named Selene (Kate Beckinsale) notices that the lycon seem to be targeting a human named Michael Corvin (Scott Speedman), she suspects that her master Kraven (Shane Brolly) is working with the believed to be dead lycon leader Lucian (Michael Sheen).  Awakening Viktor (Bill Nighy) before his time, Selene starts a chain of events that could destroy both races and expose the source of the war once and for all.

Directed by Len Wiseman, Underworld blended the genres of action-adventure and gothic horror to tell a werewolf/vampire story.  The film was the subject of controversy in that both Vampire:  The Masquerade and Werewolf:  The Apocalypse thought that the film stole from their ideas and White Wolfe, Inc. and Nancy A. Collins settled out of court in the case.  The movie was generally panned by critics but still was a big moneymaker.

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Wow, that’s a bad werewolf costume, buddy…

Underworld is a sad case of a movie.  There is a lot in the movie I want to like.  I like gothic imagery and vampire and werewolf tales were always a favorite of mine as I grew up…unfortunately, the meeting of these elements ends up being a mess.

The story of Underworld is very convoluted.  I give the writer Danny McBride credit for trying to create something that wasn’t simply “vampire versus werewolves”, but the attempt to make you feel like you have been thrust into an age old war just leads to more confusion than anything.  I feel that it was attempting to be something like the first Star Wars where you feel there is more backstory than you know…but the reveal of the backstory is clunky and a movie that should be an hour and a half is stretched too long.

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It’s not easy being bluish-black, Selene

The acting in the film does work in many aspects.  Kate Beckinsale’s cool and icy demeanor in the film matches her leather outfit and her cold eyes.  Along with the other actors however, the movie is way over-the-top, and though it works for her, everyone else takes it too far.  It surpasses being stylized and ends up being rather cheesy…combined with the pompous speeches of the script, it isn’t a good thing.

Visually is where Underworld really sinks.  If you took stills from this movie it would be stunning…like a Tim Burton style Batman look.  However, the editing is confusing and the movie switches unnecessarily to slo-mo all the time…a la Peter Jackson…but at least Peter Jackson has better control over the images and story.  The movie’s backstory is told through these hard to watch flashback memories absorbed by the characters and this just adds to the confusion.  Plus, those werewolves are not very good.

I wanted to like Underworld when I went to see it, but I instead found the movie dull.  With the easy “give-me” nature of the movie, it was able to find a real audience and start a franchise.  Underworld was followed by Underworld:  Evolution (2006) which continues the story, but a third film Underworld:  Rise of the Lycans (2009) is a prequel to this film.

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Related Links:

Underworld:  Evolution (2006)

Underworld:  Rise of the Lycans (2009)

Underworld:  Awakening (2012)

Author: JPRoscoe View all posts by
Follow me on Twitter @JPRoscoe76! Loves all things pop-culture especially if it has a bit of a counter-culture twist. Plays video games (basically from the start when a neighbor brought home an Atari 2600), comic loving (for almost 30 years), and a true critic of movies. Enjoys the art house but also isn't afraid to let in one or two popular movies at the same time.

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