*** out of **** stars
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*** out of **** stars
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.
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.
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.
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.
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 :.