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Judy Thorburn's Movie Reviews

Underworld

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Judy Thorburn

Underworld

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Flick Chicks Chick-O-Meter The Flick Chicks, film, video, movie reviews, critics, Judy Thorburn, Victoria Alexander, Polly Peluso, Shannon Onstot, Jacqueline Monahan, Tasha ChemplavilFlick Chicks Chick-O-Meter The Flick Chicks, film, video, movie reviews, critics, Judy Thorburn, Victoria Alexander, Polly Peluso, Shannon Onstot, Jacqueline Monahan, Tasha ChemplavilFlick Chicks Chick-O-Meter The Flick Chicks, film, video, movie reviews, critics, Judy Thorburn, Victoria Alexander, Polly Peluso, Shannon Onstot, Jacqueline Monahan, Tasha ChemplavilFlick Chicks Chick-O-Meter The Flick Chicks, film, video, movie reviews, critics, Judy Thorburn, Victoria Alexander, Polly Peluso, Shannon Onstot, Jacqueline Monahan, Tasha ChemplavilFlick Chicks Chick-O-Meter The Flick Chicks, film, video, movie reviews, critics, Judy Thorburn, Victoria Alexander, Polly Peluso, Shannon Onstot, Jacqueline Monahan, Tasha Chemplavil

BECKINSALE VAMPS IT UP IN STYLISH “UNDERWORLD”

Underworld is the latest fantasy horror movie to focus on those nasty creatures of the night. You know, the kind of film that has a werewolf or vampire as the featured monster.  Since the beginning of cinema, these characters have been played out over and over again in dozens of movies. But, to have them both as central characters in one film is a double treat for fans of this genre. What’s neat is this script gives us a whole new insight, a different angle that delves into the history of these two warring species with plenty of twists and surprises. I’m glad to say it actually lives up to the expectations of the preview trailers, if you ignore some minor flaws.

Underworld unfolds with a narration by Kate Beckinsale who stars as Selene, a  beautiful warrior vampire, or ”death dealer” for her clan of the undead.. Standing  on a building ledge overlooking a dark and dreary metropolis, somewhere in eastern Europe, she tells about the war that has been raging on for centuries. Not a war among humans, but the war, or blood feud, between her kind, the aristocratic mansion dwelling vampires, and Lycans,  gangs of werewolves who survive in the underbelly of the city.

Selene is the central figure, driven to avenge the death of her family, and devoted to the cause of hunting down and killing any Lycan in order to bring an end to their race.  What slowly unravels is a complex, but compelling story about secret alliances and hidden truths that once revealed would change the fate of both tribes forever.  The key to all this appears to be Michael Corvin, a human doctor that Selene gets close to after discovering he is being hunted down by her enemy.  Selene’s connection to Michael and the ensuing power struggle between various tribe leaders is what keeps the plot moving. Forget the Romeo and Juliet-like forbidden love being promoted as part of the advertising hype. It is there, but more from a DIFFERENT pair of lovers, a couple with significant historical value in this war of vengeance.

First time big screen director Len Wiseman comes from a background in art direction, and it shows. He delivers a visually stylish and blue tinged gothic atmosphere that reflects the dark world of the undead.  Granted,  Blade and the Matrix will come to mind as a few movies whose look this film was borrowed from. But, similarities aside, Underworld focuses on an original and new take on the literary and screen legends.  Although, the werewolves and vampires don’t get to do much of what they are known for (biting, blood sucking, and the sexual allure) there is plenty of other cool, exciting action sequences and new weapons to keep fans of this genre happy.  For example, the Lycans are wasted by guns that fire silver nitrate and vampires are killed with bullets that emit ultra violet rays. That’s something different! And the CGI creature transformations are neat, although I wanted to see more.

Beckinsale makes a hot vamp (pun intended) in her black leather jumpsuit and coat, looking like a female version of the Matrix’s Neo.  This role is a far cry from the romantic interests she has played in a light comedy like Serendipity or the WW II epic drama  Pearl Harbor.  But, she does a great job, creating a strong, serious and introspective heroine who can kick butt. Unfortunately, most of the other actors don’t rate as high. Michael Sheen is fine as Lucien, the Lycan leader, as is Bill Nighy as Viktor, the oldest and strongest vampire, who is mad as hell at being awakened prematurely by Selene, who seeks his guidance. And, Sophia Myles, as vampiress Erika, has the best scene. Her “off the wall” catlike hissing reaction to Michael, after she senses he has been bitten by a werewolf, is a highlight. But, Shane Brody overacts as Kraven,  who is temporary clan leader, until new top honcho, Marcus (spoken of, but never seen) awakens from hibernation. My biggest disappointment is in the casting of Scott Speedman for the role of Michael, an integral part of the scenario. Bland, bland, bland! Let me also add this guy has zero screen charisma and failed to deliver any chemistry or sexual attraction with Kate.  Someone high up is pushing this guy. I fail to see his appeal, on the acting or hunk scale.

What it comes down to is the overall appeal of Underworld. It’s not a great movie, but it is definitely entertaining.  Uneven acting aside, what comes to light is a strong social and political commentary about blending of the races and caste systems. Left with an open ended conclusion,  we can expect a sequel in the near future. Hope it’s another satisfying bite from the Underworld!