Underworld is an unusual film as the initial trailers and hype suggested a film with some depth and a Romeo/Juliet parallel in the vampire/werewolf world. Can the film live up to the hype? Let’s see.
Selene (Kate Beckinsale) is a Death Dealer - a vampire warrior locked in an ongoing war with their arch enemies, werewolves. The war has been raging for centuries and the years have taken their toil on both sides.
After an incursion with some werewolves at a subway shootout, Selene sees something that makes her realise that certain things are happening in the lycan world. It seems that a werewolf lord, Lucian (Michael Sheen) who was supposed to have been slain hundreds of years ago might not have been quite as dead as first thought.
Selene tries to take the information to the vampire leader Kraven (Shane Brolly) who dismisses the information as unreliable. Kraven seems to believe that the vampire nation is in no real danger from the werewolves and besides he was the one who killed Lucian in the first place.
Selene decides to ignore protocol and set off to investigate the matter further. The werewolves seem to be a little too interested in a human, Michael (Scott Speedman) and spend their time trying to capture him. Selene manages to prevent Michael being taken by the werewolves and in a strange twist of fate he manages to save her from the lycans.
With Kraven openly against Selene’s investigation, she seeks solace and guidance with a Viktor (Bill Nighy) an age old vampire lord who she resurrects through a forbidden ritual.
With only Viktor’s presence protecting her from Kraven and the werewolves becoming more aggressive, Selene starts to worry that there might be more to Michael than meets the eye.
Underworld is a film that is like a really good body kit on a Vauxhall Nova – it might look impressive but underneath it all it’s just a Nova – all gloss and no substance. The plot is wafer-thin and barely holds the action scenes together. It’s a series of wire-fu, CGI enhanced action scenes with tight leather outfits and slow-motion gun fighting, which tries to convince the audience that there is really some depth to it all – trust me its shallower than the foot wash at a midgets swimming pool.
Performances are nothing special – everyone has to either look sullen towards the camera or growl menacing. Kate Beckinsale might look good in leathers but she doesn’t convince anyone that she could take on a group of massive werewolves single-handedly. Scott Speedman does little all apart from looking confused and dazed. Shane Brolly plays Kraven with over-the-top brooding and at least three different scowls. Michael Sheen is the only one who seems to realise that this is a silly affair and as a result he’s the only one who doesn’t take things seriously – and comes across well.
The biggest problem with Underworld is that it deviates from the lore of both vampires and werewolves. It seems that all vampires are gothic beautiful, sitting around in expensive mansions and being the wealthy supernatural class. Werewolves are bad mannered and stupid brutish creatures with no cool weapons. There are also no female werewolves at all which is strange and the fact that the whole supernatural beings thing is lost in an attempt to explain away both sets of creatures as some sort of blood infection. The biggest rule when making a time-honoured genre – never deviate too far from the source material.
This coupled with a very weak and inconclusive ending makes for a poor film – if anyone works out where Kraven disappears to please let me know!
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