$2.50 Reviews: Underworld (2003)

$2.50 Reviews:

Underworld

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Underworld is a 2003 action film directed by Len Wiseman. Billed by some as "Romeo and Juliet with Vampires and Werewolves", Underworld almost fits the bill. The basic plot format does play similarly to Shakespeare's classic, but is lacking far too much in the development of its characters to stay on par. Kate Beckinsale plays Selene, a death dealer who hunts down and kills "Lycans", a different name for "werewolves". She plays the action role well, but has no real characterization apart from her desire to hunt down every last Lycan so that she can avenge her family. Eventually, she gets caught in the middle of a tale of betrayal, deceit and broken trust.

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Victor, the head vampire

If this really was a Romeo and Juliet interpretation, one would think that a male would also be required. Enter Scott Speedman, who plays Michael Corvin. Speedman is the character who is supposed to have real emotions, and for the most part actually is. His character is a human, and not just any human either. His blood is rumored to carry the dormant Corvinus Strain, something that is supposed to be able to fuse the two species into one hybrid. The Lycans begin the film as the only species that knows about him, but soon Selene finds out as well. The war between the two soon picks up, and the film actually goes into great detail regarding the origins of the war, as well as the mythos surrounding the vampires and Lycans.

This back-story, as well as the entire plot of the film, is actually fairly in-depth. At least, it is in terms of action movies. The origin of the Lycan/vampire blood war is touched upon, as is Selene's personal hatred of the Lycans. I was really impressed by the depth that the plot had, especially due to the fact that action movies typically do not spend the time or energy on this element. Most of the time, characters are given simple motivation, with as little explained as possible, so as to not take away time from the action sequences. Underworld manages to accomplish both. It has good story, as well as some interesting action scenes.

In fact, the film's quality actually dips a slight bit during the action sequences. That's not to say that they aren't good, but they just become slightly less interesting. The main reason for this is that you never really get to see monsters fight other monsters. For the most part, it looks like regular people with guns fighting werewolves, or regular people with guns fighting other regular people with guns. These scenes are still well made, and ultimately exciting to watch, but the lost opportunity of not really having monster vs. monster warfare is certainly disappointing.

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Beckinsale really owns this role

Although, if the vampires had transformed like the Lycans do, things might have gotten laughable. When the transformation from human to Lycan occurs, the movie does begin to feel dated. The CGI used in the transformations looks downright silly in comparison to some of the ones we have nowadays. They look clumsy, and were not handled well at all. Thankfully, Underworld avoids showing these directly, for the most part at least. Most of the transformations are done off-screen, leaving more time for the fully transformed werewolves. After transformation, the Lycans don't actually look all that bad. They look menacing and not all that fake. The same thing goes for the vampires. While the only real difference between them and humans is the fangs, they still look very good. They appear rather cocky and cold, something that is fully represented by the main character.

Kate Beckinsale plays a really cold character in Underworld. Selene is an old vampire now, and after nearly hunting the Lycans to extinction, she seems to no longer feel any need to be afraid. The rest of the vampire clan is similar to her, at least in terms of attitude. In fact, one of the main conflicts within the film is caused by the other vampires being so self-assured, that they don't listen to her. This leads to them not being prepared for the impending Lycan attack. They act far more rationally, especially given their current circumstance. This applies to their leader, Lucian, as well. In fact, I need to mention Michael Sheen, who played Lucian, as he was by far the best actor in the film. He plays the villian well, and ended up becoming a favourite character of mine.

If what you want out of a film is solid action complimented with a well thought out back-story and decent acting, then Underworld is a film you will likely enjoy. The Lycan and vampire feud has been going on for hundreds of years, and this is brought across well through the dialogue. The plot isn't going to make you think all that hard, but it will keep you engaged better than a lot of action films. The action scenes will also keep you entertained, but if you are going in expecting transformed monsters fighting one another, you'll likely leave disappointed. That may actually be for the best, as the transformations that did occur look clunky and dated. Once the Lycan do transform though, they don't do a bad job. They look like a real threat, and actually manage to hold up fairly well. Underworld is a fun film that will keep you engaged, give it a watch.

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Cool review bro! I've actually seen this movie so I thought I'd take a look. It does hold up pretty well.

I can think of much worse Vampire movies...

*shines Sparkle badge*

Marter:

Although, if the vampires had transformed like the Lycans do, things might have gotten downright silly. When the transformation from human to Lycan occurs, the movie does begin to feel dated. The CGI used in the transformations looks downright silly in comparison to some of the ones we have nowadays.

Might want to tweak that a bit :P

Also, mentioning Kate Beckinsale so late in the review seems a bit strange. I feel it would have flowed more if you had mentioned her more during the section in which you discuss the story, as story and characters go fairly hand-in-hand. Apart from that, twas a good review as always.

Great action movie series they are. And do you need any excuse to want too see Kate Beckinsale in tight latex catsuits? ;)

Best character of this movie though is easily Victor.

Redlin5:
I can think of much worse Vampire movies...

*shines Sparkle badge*

Have you actually seen any of those, or are you hating just because? Genuinely curious here.

Marter:

Redlin5:
I can think of much worse Vampire movies...

*shines Sparkle badge*

Have you actually seen any of those, or are you hating just because? Genuinely curious here.

Watched the first one. It became very obvious to me that it wasn't a movie targeted at my generation or gender. I also found some of the lines awkwardly delivered. Then, of course, there is the whole "sparkling vampire" thing. I enjoyed "Have you heard about the Morgans?" better. Although that movie I watched not because it was good but because it was on an airplane and I was trying to guess just how stupider the story could get.

I gave the series its one chance to defy the popular opinion.

Redlin5:
Watched the first one. It became very obvious to me that it wasn't a movie targeted at my generation or gender. I also found some of the lines awkwardly delivered. Then, of course, there is the whole "sparkling vampire" thing.

Okay, good. As long as you did give it a chance before hating it.

I don't really like it when people hate things without giving them any kind of chance. (Yes, even Twilight).

Marter:

Redlin5:
Watched the first one. It became very obvious to me that it wasn't a movie targeted at my generation or gender. I also found some of the lines awkwardly delivered. Then, of course, there is the whole "sparkling vampire" thing.

Okay, good. As long as you did give it a chance before hating it.

I don't really like it when people hate things without giving them any kind of chance. (Yes, even Twilight).

Me too. Give something a chance to prove itself before declaring it terrible.

Captions need to be humourous D:

But the review itself was good.

Redlin5:
Me too. Give something a chance to prove itself before declaring it terrible.

And as such, when I find them, (and manage to completely disguise my identity), I will review the Twilight movies. Not for a long time though.

teh_pwning_dude:
Captions need to be humourous D:

Do they? I feel that if they re-enforce points I made in the review, or give additional information, they don't have to be funny.

Marter:
Do they? I feel that if they re-enforce points I made in the review, or give additional information, they don't have to be funny.

Well, no, but I do like funny captions :3

But I don't really see how they're that helpful in current form... still, if I'm the only one who says it, I probably just read too many magazines :)

teh_pwning_dude:
Well, no, but I do like funny captions :3

But I don't really see how they're that helpful in current form... still, if I'm the only one who says it, I probably just read too many magazines :)

Well, the first one lets me say a certain character is in the film, without a direct mention, and the second one reinforces the fact that Beckinsale did a good job in her role.

Captions are a bonus. Otherwise, it would be a wall of text. Better than nothing, right?

Kenko:
And do you need any excuse to want too see Kate Beckinsale in tight latex catsuits? ;)

Absolutely not.

Best character of this movie though is easily Victor.

Really? I liked Lucian the best. :)

This reminds of a little Underworld marathon my friend and I had a while back. It was worth it.

Marter:

teh_pwning_dude:
Captions need to be humourous D:

Do they? I feel that if they re-enforce points I made in the review, or give additional information, they don't have to be funny.

Well, it could be possible to re-enforce those points and be humorous at the same time without feeling forced. But, your style is what you make it, not what anyone else makes it.

FargoDog:
Also, mentioning Kate Beckinsale so late in the review seems a bit strange. I feel it would have flowed more if you had mentioned her more during the section in which you discuss the story, as story and characters go fairly hand-in-hand. Apart from that, twas a good review as always.

I mentioned her in the first paragraph, actually. I just didn't delve into what her character was until later.

Marter:

Kenko:
And do you need any excuse to want too see Kate Beckinsale in tight latex catsuits? ;)

Absolutely not.

Best character of this movie though is easily Victor.

Really? I liked Lucian the best. :)

Bah! Lucian was naught but a dog who didnt know its place! And Selene was a hybrid loving traitor that shouldve been executed! ;)

FargoDog:
Also, mentioning Kate Beckinsale so late in the review seems a bit strange. I feel it would have flowed more if you had mentioned her more during the section in which you discuss the story, as story and characters go fairly hand-in-hand. Apart from that, twas a good review as always.

I noticed that Michael Sheen is only mentioned at the end of the last paragraph before the summary. I felt he played quite the role within the film, on top of doing a great job, so I expected him to be mentioned at the same time as the other lead roles.

Still, I enjoyed the mention of characterization and character development, I think that can ultimately make or break most films, even an in-depth action vampire/lycan movie.

Otherwise, another solid review Marter. I've come to expect no less.

zombiesinc:
I noticed that Michael Sheen is only mentioned at the end of the last paragraph before the summary. I felt he played quite the role within the film, on top of doing a great job, so I expected him to be mentioned at the same time as the other lead roles.

Still, I enjoyed the mention of characterization and character development, I think that can ultimately make or break most films, even an in-depth action vampire/lycan movie.

Otherwise, another solid review Marter. I've come to expect no less.

What I tried to do was morph the review to fit the movie. Characters didn't get much time, because they weren't really all that important, in my eyes anyway.

For example, neither Selene's or Lucian's name is really revealed until fairly late. Selene's is only after about 30 minutes, and I can't remember how long it took for Lucian's.

Also...there are expectations now? Uh-oh! O_O

Pretty good review, Marter.

In all honesty, this review is one that I saw with the most grammatical errors and didn't really seem to flow as well as your other ones.

Still, I thank you for reviewing one that I asked for ^-^

Marter:
What I tried to do was morph the review to fit the movie. Characters didn't get much time, because they weren't really all that important, in my eyes anyway.

For example, neither Selene's or Lucian's name is really revealed until fairly late. Selene's is only after about 30 minutes, and I can't remember how long it took for Lucian's.

That is a fair point, but I felt that Michael Sheen's last minute shout-out didn't do his character (or performance) any justice. It also could lead a reader who hasn't seen the movie to feel a bit confused.

Also...there are expectations now? Uh-oh! O_O

Yes! And naturally, some ego boosting as well. :)

 

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