Underworld (2003)

DVD Cover (Sony Home Entertainment Unrated Cut)
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Overall Rating 67%
Overall Rating
Ranked #671
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Connections: Underworld

Vampires and werewolves have waged a nocturnal war against each other for centuries. But all bets are off when a female vampire warrior named Selene, who's famous for her strength and werewolf-hunting prowess, becomes smitten with a peace-loving male werewolf, Michael, who wants to end the war. --TMDb
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Review by Crispy
Added: February 6, 2008
Two of the most iconic creatures in horror's illustrious history are the vampire and the werewolf; indeed, the creatures themselves have been the focus of stories going back for centuries. So, it's no surprise that they've been brought together under the same spotlight more than once. In Underworld, vampires and werewolves have been locked in a secret war that's been raging for over a thousand years.

Selene is a vampire, more specifically a Death Dealer, a vampire whose sole purpose is to see to the extermination of the lycans, a breed of werewolves. She is stationed on a ledge high above the city streets, watching two lycans follow a human into the subway. After leaping from her perch, she and her partner follow them, only to get drawn into a shootout. Her fellow Death Dealer dead, Selene is able to draw the two wolves into the tunnels below the tracks where she kills one lycan and forces the other to retreat. Back at the vampire's mansion, Selene tirelessly goes over the evidence and finds that the man the lycans were hunting is a medical intern named Michael Corvin; she immediately sets out for his apartment, defying the direct orders of the coven's steward, Kraven. Meanwhile, at the lycan lair, their scientists are working with the blood of another man named Corvin, and when the results are negative, the head of the lycan pack decides to go after Michael himself. Selene gets there just before the lycans do, and although she is able to escape with him, she received a deep stab wound in her shoulder and, unbeknownst to her, Michael has been bitten. During the escape, she passes out behind the wheel from the blood loss and runs the car into the river. Michael is just able to drag her to shore before passing out from the bite. Realizing he just saved her life, she takes him back to the mansion, where the other vampires find he has been bitten by a lycan. Not knowing what's happening to himself, he runs from he thinks is a hostage situation. Meanwhile, Selene has grown suspicious of Kraven's refusal to look into the reason the lycans want Corvin. Both disgusted with Kraven for his unrequited lust and realizing she's developed a small affection for Michael, she sets out for answers.

The thing about Underworld is that while it does have two creatures associated with horror, it's actually more of an action movie than anything else. Hell, most of the fighting between the two is done with guns rather than fangs and claws (complete with Unlimited Ammo and Stormtrooper Mode both activated). Now, to be honest, the action scenes are relatively far and few between, and since this movie was hyped as a war between vampires and werewolves, this was a serious blow to its reception. The same thing holds true in regards to the romance angle between Selene and Michael. Taglines claimed it to be something of a Romeo & Juliet parallel. Instead, the love story aspect is more of a subplot than anything else. An interesting subplot maybe, what with Selene realizing she is falling for something she has sworn to destroy, but a subplot none the less. Instead the film's real focus is why the lycans are so interested in Michael and the conspiracies within the vampire's coven. Once you know to ignore the hype's emphasis on the subplots, and allow yourself to take the film for its own merits, I think you'll enjoy it a lot more. It's got a great storyline in my opinion, with just enough turns to keep your attention without inducing any eye rolls.

One of the things I loved about this is director Len Wiseman's insistence on using men in costumes for most of the werewolf scenes. In a time where most directors would try and cram as much CGI as possible into a film like this, keeping the lycans 'real' added a lot of weight to their scenes, especially when the fighting did resort to physical hand to claw combat. Another thing is that he has obviously taken a lot of visual influence from one Tim Burton. The only real difference being that instead of using black as the dominant color for his gothic city, Wiseman bathed his world in a steel blue. While I thought this was a nice touch, you don't have to look hard to find people who disagree.

As far as the acting goes, I don't have any serious complaints from any of the major roles. Or any of the minor roles either for that matter. Kate Beckinsale and Scott Speedman were both a bit above average in the roles of Selene and Michael respectively, especially Beckinsale. Shane Brolly (Kraven) and Bill Nighy (Viktor) were both riding dangerously close to that overacting line, but neither of them crossed, and to be fair, a lot of Nighy's problem was the lines that were handed to him. Co-writer Kevin Grevioux also did rather nicely in his role of the lycan lieutenant, Raze. Truly stealing the show, however, was Michael Sheen's role as the lycans' leader. A one-dimensional villain this is certainly not, and I'm extremely happy he'll be returning for the upcoming prequel, Underworld: Rise of the Lycans. Plus, there's a good chance he'll be the main focus of that film, so bonus points there.

I'll admit it, the first time I saw this flick, it didn't do anything for me. But about a year later, I was hanging out with some friends of mine and they put it on, and I loved it. Since then it has become one of my favorite movies and I seem to enjoy it more every time I watch it. I gave it five stars up above, but as a reviewer, I'll go with a 8.
babygirl_d #1: babygirl_d - added December 16, 2004 at 5:59pm
dis movies was filled wit action, graphic effect. all the thing a movies should have.
Bluesummers #2: Bluesummers - added March 7, 2005 at 2:59am
I like vampires. I like werewolves. I like action. And Kate Beckinsale in skintight clothing? What went wrong?

Uh, first of all, for a movie purported to be Romeo and Juliet for the supernatural, where the fuck is the love story? If what we see is true, why would one kiss change this bloodsucking woman's mind? Exactly. Way too thin.

Second of all, there are the characters. Sure, Selene and her boytoy are sort of developed, enough to be believable, but the rest are simply cartoons. I must say a bunch of fine pale chicks are good for me, though.

Third, the action. I do love the action, yes, but it's used too sparingly. This is a "war" we're talking about! And the final confrontation was just too short. And after Freddy Vs. Jason, I'm expecting climactic world-shaking struggles here.

At any rate, this is a middling movie. The best scene involves an APC remix. I felt some power going on there, but other than that...eh. I was hoping for more.
Ginose #3: Ginose - added September 9, 2005 at 5:44pm
God, I hated this movie. FOR PEOPLE WHO ABSOLUTELY LOVE VAMPIRES ONLY! This thing literaly put me to sleep... I refuse to say much else on it's behalf.
bluemeanie #4: bluemeanie - added October 18, 2005 at 9:49pm
Scott Speedman is hot. Kate Beckinsale is not. This film blew. 3/10.
Dametria #5: Dametria - added April 24, 2007 at 11:19am
Has anyone ever played "White Wolf"?? I could literally ahve drawn out their character sheets....
Tristan #6: Tristan - added August 1, 2007 at 4:13pm
This movie really did blow. I hate this Matrix style horror. Just pitiful. 4/10
ThunderStruck5a #7: ThunderStruck5a - added August 24, 2007 at 2:31am
i really dug this movie.

Pros : Kate Beckinsale is so hot in this movie / the plot / most of the acting

Cons : my knowledge on vampire folklore is pretty decent so what was up with kate looking at her reflection.....twice. / she may have well just tried out for the A-Team with all the missed shots she had in the first couple gunfights.

Rik #8: Rik - added September 22, 2007 at 2:34am
Oh yeah... that reflection thing. Never thought of that. hahaha.
effin #9: effin - added November 26, 2007 at 11:32pm
Like a lot of things in hollywood, good idea, bad follow through. I can deficate better character development than this. Lamer than Issah Washington's apology to the homosexual community.
danimigra #10: danimigra - added March 15, 2008 at 6:31pm
i love this one..!
johannesfaust #11: johannesfaust - added February 27, 2009 at 7:49pm
exciting at the beginning, but it turned out boring....lame argument...
Lucid Dreams #12: Lucid Dreams - added February 23, 2010 at 2:49pm
This was ok, but I'll agree with Tristan with the shitty Matrix-like scenes. Story was good, but acting wise it was a bit bleh.
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