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As soon as I saw the preview to this film I wrote it off as a silly Matrix
rip-off trying to attack a subject that is so tired (vampires/werewolves).
I really never had any intention of seeing Underworld until my girlfriend,
who saw it in theaters, repeatedly suggested I watch it. After watching the
DVD just now I must say that I enjoyed it a lot. I was completely into the
story, which is surprisingly rich and engaging. One would have to be a bit
naïve not to admit that Underworld does indeed borrow from a variety of
action films, most notably The Matrix. It should be obvious to any
free-thinking person that none of the ideas present in Underworld are
original, but what this film does well is take ideas that were established
in the past and build on them more. This is by no means a carbon copy of
any of the films from which it borrows from. Slow motion gun battles didn't
originate with the Matrix films. The most refreshing aspect of this movie
is the story, which surprisingly has many layers and puts a totally fresh
new spin on the vampire/werewolf stories. This aspect, along with the
excellent visual effects makes Underworld an enjoyable experience. A sequel
for this is inevitable, and I must say that I'm really looking forward to
it. Underworld was a very pleasant surprise.
*** out of **** stars
I knew I was in trouble when I saw the previews for this film, I loved
I know I would love this film. I knew that I would take much flack for loving this film. I know that I would not care. I did, I did and I don't. People who complain about films like this should spend more time at the library and less time at the cinema, and even less time telling everyone else how smart they are and how silly films like this are beneath them. Cut it out. Film is an art form about light, the lack of light and the bending of light, I thought the light was marvelous. What do you want from a film about a war between vampires and werewolves?, I know what I wanted and this film delivered. It was stylish, amusing and well paced. This film was a testament to people who know priorities, no big money star vehicles, just fine actors, young and old, wonderfully silly duologue, played straight, appropriate screeching metal music and lots of shooting and many scenes of Kate Beckensale doing her thing, marvelous. I adore Ms. Beckansale and this film almost allowed me to forgive her for "Brokedown Palace"....almost. I can't wait for the sequel, I will be there when it opens, to blazes with all the snobby nae-Sayers who are unable to appreciate the genius of lines like "You are acting like a pack of rabid dogs" delivered, straight faced, by the disgusted head of the Lycon community and for the Amazing Ms Beckansale who managed to be every bit as sexy as she was in "Haunted" without removing any of her clothing...any of it, a true movie star if there ever was one.
I can understand why some people were unwilling to give this movie a
chance. I started out thinking, OK, so Anna Valerious from Van Helsing
is now a female Blade! I was wrong! I also went in thinking it was
going to be a push button movie with no real twists.
Again I was wrong.
I didn't really see the twist coming at the end (surprising, since I figured out who Kaiser Sosay was!) I liked this move for a lot of reasons. The darkness in the movie wasn't oppressive. The acting was good, and the story strong.
I give it a 7 out of 10.
Everything you've heard from the critics, everything you know about vampires and werewolves, everything that is standard in most fantasy/action films. Then you'll enjoy this film. I, unlike a lot of fans, will not claim that this is a move masterpiece, I will not claim that this will change movie making history. I, however, will go against the critics and say that this is a good film. Not getting a chance to see this in the cinema, when it came out on video I rented it out immediately. Now, at first, I could see what the critics meant it wasn't how the trailers depicted it and the script and acting in places was a bit rusty. I put it back and gave no more thought to it. However I soon found myself thinking about the film and the bits I'd enjoyed. I soon realised that this was good because it wasn't conventional and I couldn't stop thinking about it. There had been so many plot twists, so much to take in that I knew I had to see it a second time. This time I bought it, on DVD, and I found myself watching it again and again. This film gives you wonderful villains and just when you start to hate them something nastier comes along or they give you a motive which makes you confused. In one film the world which you are presented with at the beginning, Lycans (Werewolves) vrs. Vampires, is thrown into doubt. There are no longer good and evil, it is no longer this side versus this side and our hero Selene is stuck in the middle. The thing is every villain in this film seems to be fully justifiable in their actions yet completely nasty. I was trying, after falling in love with this film, to work out where it went wrong. I realised there was too much. You are thrown into this world and you have to keep up, there is no chance to sit down and work things out. That comes after seeing the film, this world explains itself through the characters actions. It is as if this world is real and we are meant to know about it already. Their is a history, their is a false history, their are legendary characters and not all of it is gone into in particular detail. Pieces of the world's history are just thrown in by the characters, as they would be in real life, with no long detailed explanation. That mixed with the cliff hanger ending, the promise of more characters from the past. MEans that even if you weren't sure about this film, the sequel Underworld: Evolution looks like it will be amazing.
The "Underworld" sequel will soon be out so now is a good time to
revisit the original. Personally I enjoyed this film more than any high
budget "mainstream movie" I have seen in years years. But I can see
many of the problems others have pointed out. Although the small action
scenes work very well, the more elaborate scenes are disjointed,
confused, and somewhat silly. If you compare the opening subway
sequence to the train station sequence in "The Untouchables", you see
an illustration of why less is better; and "Underworld" expends more
ammo for less effect than anything this side of a "Godzilla" film.
Along with too much aggressive confusion is the silliest head-splitting in cinema history. Similar to the way Tarentino dispatched Lucy Lie in "Kill Bill Vol.1" (i.e. a delay in the actual detachment-I don't know which film did it first but Tarentine did it way better), the effects editor overlooked the need to show a slice in the head before it topples off. Surely this was just simple incompetence and not deliberate, because there are ways to show this (i.e. a line) that would still make it a relatively shocking scene.
The story itself breaks too many horror genre conventions and fails to generate much real suspense (although the climax is somewhat surprising). But ultimately these problems did not interfere with my enjoyment of the movie.
This was because it is first and foremost a Kate Beckensale's vehicle, as emphasized by recent trailer for the sequel. It is likely that your feeling about the film will depend on your impression of Beckensale. She has never looked better and I'm just talking about her face which I could watch in closeup for two hours without the slightest complaint. She is increasingly an absolute ringer for a 1940-ish Loretta Young. An earlier comment noted that: "This 30 year old has the figure and face of a magazine model, with the bored flat expression to match. Pour this tight little body into a rubber suit with especially reflective pants and you have something to anchor your movie". All this is very true but add intelligence, subtlety and nuance not seen since Diana Rigg was playing Mrs. Peel. The film does not demonstrate her range (you have to watch "Alice Through the Looking Glass" for the best evidence of that) but it is one of those rare cases where you can't imagine anyone but her in the role.
The production design, lighting, and cinematography are all excellent and the DVD has some great features explaining these aspects of the production.
The film has a nice consistent look that fits very well with the story. I don't understand the comments that are negative overall, or what films these people are unfavorably comparing it to, can't be the garbage films that have been coming to mainstream theaters over the past few years. Bottom line, if you like the genre, appreciate stylish production design, and think highly of Ms. Beckensale you should make it a point to see this movie.
I have just watched Underworld for the second time, and I was gratified
to discover that it was every bit as good as I remembered - if not more
so. No two ways about it; this is one terrific movie.
The action scenes and some of the special effects could be better, but the movie has utterly superb style, mood, plot and acting! The story itself is probably the best vampire-slash-werewolf story I've encountered (though admittedly I don't know many, as I'm not really a horror fan), and the ending is just fabulous.
I also just love the thing about the chief vampires sleeping for predetermined periods of time, and are then revived - this is incredibly cool.
And the whole thing is borne aloft by the great skill of the British lead actors - particularly hard-hitting cutie Kate Beckinsale, wild-eyed Michael Sheen and that late bloomer of a genuine acting icon, Bill Nighy, who gives an unflinching performance.
It won't be long now till Underworld: Evolution comes out - and I'm just thrilled at the prospect of seeing more of this stylish world! If they can fulfill my expectations of the sequel, I will be making an upward correction of my rating of this movie from 8 to 9, because then we'll have a larger universe which makes sense in a larger context. That's how a good movie franchise should function.
"Underworld" is no ordinary horror movie. It tells the tale of a secret war between vampires and werewolves (or as they're called here, lycans). Kate Beckinsale stars as Selene, a lethal assassin on the vampire side. Scott Speedman plays Michael Corvin, a man who finds himself wrapped up in this brutal war. This movie is rather well done, despite all the blood and graphic violence. The look of the movie is dark, Gothic and brooding, which fits very well with the story. The script is interesting, using science to bring the vampire and werewolf legends into the modern age (such as saying the lycans are allergic to silver). The story of the bitter rivalry between to two mythic characters would make a fascinating prequel, and the sequel should follow "Underworld" with real impact as well.
When Underworld was release in the theaters I didn't bother seeing it, because of the bad reviews. I recently rented it because the video store didn't have anything better to offer, that I had not already seen, and I must say that I was very much surprised. It was far better than expected. I especially liked the acting of Bill Nighy as the vampire lord Viktor, and Micheal Sheen as the werewolf leader Lucian. I think that the plot is quite strong, and it does not ruin the vampire or werewolf legend. What i didn't like as much was the werewolf costumes. I didn't find the convincing. But apart from that, it was very entertaining, and I am looking forward to see the sequel i the theaters.
I loved Underworld. But I love most decent Vampire or Werewolf films, so that's a bit biased, eh? Basing the two species on a genetic, scientific idea makes them work exceedingly well, and removes all those problems that mysticism brings to a film, like reflections or holy items. This Vamp-Werewolf model make explanations easy, rather than requiring long prologues or in-depth discussions. The whole 'virus' idea is logical, and easy to follow. It's slick, modern, fast-paced action combined with classic, Gothic Vampire & Werewolf ideas, like the Vamp's high-tech weapons being kept in a massive, stately manor. I'm a real fan of the whole colour scheme, with few colours used in any one shot, and blues used for almost everything, keeping it looking cool, and sleek. I am also a Kate Beckinsale fan, and I love Action films that don't use women like an extra person to shout 'watch out!' or hit someone over the head. K.Beckinsale's character is great for this, it's someone who could easily be a guy. (Although, I'm thinking the outfit'd need a bit of enlarging if it were)
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
Let me start this review by saying that, while this work is NOT scary,
it was not MEANT to be scary. This production was classed into the
genre of "Horror," strictly due to the "monster" factor. There are
"tense" moments, to be sure, but this is not a "boo!" kind of movie.
There is; however, plenty of action, lots of well enacted drama and
wonderful realistic effects. I was actually amazed with the apparent
lack of high-dollar effects, the almost Rice-ian Vampire clans lounging
in the well designed lush and lavish "mansion," the gritty tension held
throughout the movie, and the stunningly clever costume designs. But
what held me mostly in thrall were the effects.
The effects were so well done, they were believable. They explain that the older Lycan can change at will, regardless of the moon's cycle...with that in mind, the way the werewolves' mandible bones FORCED themselves out and into place was dead ON. Changing at will would BE like that, especially in times of anger or great stress. Someone (possibly Wiseman?) had heard (and correctly believed) that "less is more," because the effects were done in such a way as to appear REAL and not...simply more Hollywood "Matrix" flash.
These scenes were so well done; so well directed, filmed and portrayed that we could, even if for a short time, believe the things we were watching...were possible. The wonderfully unique bullets used by both sides are absolutely brilliant. It reminded me if the horribly campy western/vampire movie made about 10 or 15 years ago entitled, "Sundown," where the vampire hunters used wooden bullets.
I am simply stunned to discover that this is Len Wiseman's first attempt in the field as Director. I eagerly look forward to more brilliance from this man. (He was also one of the writers of the original literary work.) If this is his first attempt, we may have just been introduced to the next Spielberg. Personally, I'm hoping he leans more towards being the next Hitchcock.
The weaponry Selene (Kate Beckinsale) utilized was quite unique and completely interested the small audience in my hometown theater. When she drew her stars and threw them simultaneously at the Lycan; when the scene slowed to an almost stop just long enough to allow you to SEE the throwing stars as they CHANGED into much more deadly projectiles, was absolutely excellent. AND was also the ONLY scene in this entire movie which even remotely reminded me of "The Matrix." The other critics keep droning on and on with comparisons between these two movies, and frankly, I just don't see it.
Also, "Blade" has been used as a source of comparison. The only similarities between "Blade" and "Underworld" are that Viktor, the oldest and strongest of the Vampiric race of "Pure Bloods," uses a sword. Oh, and there are Vampires. Those were the ONLY common points, as far as I could tell. This is an original work; not a petty rip-off or a "jumble of other movies." This is a very creative and unique attempt; a successful one, if you ask me.
While guns were used more than I would have liked, the additional weaponry chosen for this endeavor was not your standard action-flick fare. One of the vampire "Death Dealers" uses a pair of 10' whips quite well. And don't forget about the bullets I mentioned...what an extraordinary intellectual and creative power.
The costumes were kept simple, yet served the purpose of helping to set the mood. Two words...understated elegance. Absolutely brilliant. Some have said that the story line is hard to follow, or that there is no discernible plot. Let me be frank. This is not a movie for the squeamish, nor is it a movie for those who like to be able to NOT concentrate on the plot. Sure, there is enough visual eye candy to keep most casual fans of the genre entertained, but there is also a very complicated and beautifully sinister plot and subplots going on beneath the flying bullets and shots of Kate Beckinsale's butt in latex and leather.
The Shakespearean relationship between Selene and Michael (Scott Speedman) is well written and pleasantly portrayed, in the midst of all that darkness and drama. A bit of candle-light to shine hope into the darkness of despair, as it were. The story is an upgraded spin on a timeless classic, with enough additional plot and sub-plot to keep even the most common movie-goer interested. The war between the Vampires and the Lycan has raged for more than a thousand years. The Lycan, once the serving class to the Vampire, had risen against their masters and won their freedom. But was that the real story? Was their freedom truly the motivating force which stoked the fires of this war for this long? In the center of this war are Selene (Vampire) and Michael (Lycan). Their love of one another is forbidden by every Vampire Covenant written, but will that be enough to stop them from falling in love?
As one of the chosen "Death Dealers," an organization within the Vampire Clans trained and equipped to hunt and kill Lycans, Selene is faced with a decision most dire: sell out and live? or be true to herself and die? Will her loyalty to her ancient maker keep her from making the right choice?
And that is where the sub-plot kicks into overdrive and makes you sit back and say, "Oh wow! No kidding?!" at the darkling twists in the plot. I was thoroughly entertained by this work, and cannot wait to add the DVD to the Vampire section of my horror collection. Superb acting; rich depth of character; talented, creative directing; and realistic effects put this movie at the top of all other Vampyre movies, for me.
It earns an ambitious 9.7/10 from...
the Fiend :.
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