I’ll cut right to the chase with this one, Underworld is stylish yet forgettable Hollywood filler.
It features a name actor for audience recognition, particularly among the target demo of males 18 – 30 (Kate Beckinsale – really a target for males full stop!), an ‘actor’s actor’ slumming it for fun (Bill Nighy), a young pretty boy faceless enough so that every guy in the audience can imagine themselves in his place when Beckinsale whispers into his ear (Scott Speedman – Tug’s brother) and a couple of famous monster species going at it.
Sounds OK right? Well let me address my primary concern: the opening scenes introduce both Vampires and Lycans (werewolves), explain a bit of backstory (fight’s been going on for centuries) and shows Beckinsale in skintight plastic (nice). Then the scene culminates in a fight between the two warring factions in full view of hundreds in the subway system.
Again no probs… until I mention it is a gunfight!
Wikipedia tells me that:
“Vampires are mythological or folkloric beings who subsist by feeding on the life essence (generally in the form of blood) of living creatures, regardless of whether they are undead or a living person.”
And searching “werewolf” immediately opened this pic:
Ahhh but Vampires feed on the blood of the living right? Surely that goes on?
Once… and only once, and for full disclosure it must be said that a few werewolves actually do get stuck in and wrap their laughing gear around the enemy – but nowhere near enough to say “how about those werewolves eh?”.
So what we have is another Matrix rip off with a couple of decent action scenes, a pretentious backstory and a mixed bag of performances. In the main the characters a re good, but the guy who plays the Vampire leader of the day – they favour a revolving captaincy system – Kraven is absolutely lamentable and had me chuckling at all the wrong times for all the wrong reasons.
The Lycan transformations are OK but still not in the same league as An American Werewolf in London, the politics that embroil the middle part of the film annoying and unnecessary and Bill Nighy raises his upper lip a couple times as if to say “I’m acting!”, then goes back to sleepwalking through his hammy role.
I dunno really, this to me is the brethren of Resident Evil, a companion piece of inept monster related franchises. In theory I want to like both, I mean zombies, vampires and werewolves mean that the filmmakers must have the right tools surely? But alas no, for both franchises the high points mean average films, while the many lows plumb the depths of lazy commercial filmmaking.
Unfortunately this film marks the high point of the series, but I can’t even say that it’s worth checking out. Even Kate Beckinsale – the hottest woman in the world for many – is under-utilised in the film. For some reason they choose to try to make her a 5 foot 50 kg hard-ass instead of taking a few seconds to dwell upon her… other assets.
Final Rating – 6.5 / 10. Another example of how Hollywood can get all the right ingredients and still end up making a horrible mess that leaves a bland taste in your mouth. Underworld is not so much terrible, but it sure isn’t much good either.