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I am in the habit of compartmentalizing interests and friendships both; with one particular friend we only seem to watch vampire-themed movies. Now, not to say I am particularly enamored with that style, but it does give me an insight into what makes a fine example of that particular genre.
Underworld, the first movie in the trilogy of the same name, fits comfortably into the vampire revival genre. Anti-traditionalist would seemingly be a fitting name to call director Len Wiseman's methodology. There are no castles, no evaporating flesh at the first touch of sunlight, no forks of lightning illuminating pale faces with fangs extended. The long opening monologue is the first hint that Wiseman may not be completely renovating the genre. This is confirmed with an extended action sequence straight out of The Matrix - that is to say, we don't know who anyone is, what side they are on, and does anyone really care? Well... I didn't. It soon emerges that there are two distinct factions within fair, erm, Neo-America-Britain, where our story is set: the ancient pre-natural clans of vampire and lycan. These two sides are caught in relentless battle for power that has been going off for centuries, right under humanity's collective noses. To what end? I don't know. I guess there is more to immortality than playing chess against your computer...
So far, so Twilight. Kate Beckinsale plays the part of our lead character, vampire Selene, with no absolutely attributes outside of having a British accent and frolicking around in bondage gear. Selene, as the newest member of the vampire coven, is not only our insight into the vampire world, but also to the lycan side of the tracks. Michael Sheen plays Lucian, the leader of the lycans, who can change his shape at will. As he can only change into a wolf, that's kind of like saying I can take my pyjamas off at will - it's not as impressive as it seems. Humanity is not totally forgotten in Underworld. The advocate for humanity is Michael, a trauma surgeon at the local hospital, who through a series of incredulous coincidences, becomes embroiled in the secret war. Michael is not just a bit-player, in fact, he could just possibly be the key to ending the war between vampire and lycan - but do either side even want the bloodshed to end?
There is also Kraven, resident Mr. Antagonist, a vampire on the higher rungs of the coven's hierarchy who has tasted power and now has the hunger for more. Selene is easily the most likable character, simply because she has the most screen-time. When asked why the two species are locked in a war of attrition, the question seems to trouble her, before answering, "because we always have been."
The plot of Underworld unfolds in an oppressively dark city-scape lit only by the flashes of gunfire and the gleam of rain on the pavements. Underworld seems conflicted between this dystopian urban aesthetic and the more traditional gothic horror shtick. As such, most of the action takes place in the unlit streets and eerie sewers - but vampire headquarters is situated in an almost regal British residency, where much of the back-story is revealed. This is an almost cloying mix of old and new, and I don't think it particularly works well or adds anything to the movie. This is echoed in where exactly the story is set (presumably America, as the majority of characters are American, as is the movie itself) but nearly all of the vampires are approximately British. Is this some cutting quip on blood-sucking colonialism? No, Underworld is not that intelligent. Likely it is simply that vampires = historical = Britain as visual shorthand in many Hollywood execs' minds...
The plot itself suffers from a suffocating amount of back-story. Of course, in any movie where war is a central theme, there will be a lot of prior history to get through. Underworld foregoes those oh-so-helpful expository conversations, however, a decision I could appreciate as the pace of a movie can easily become bogged-down when everyone is stopping to discuss whatever they're doing in excruciating detail every five minutes. What I didn't appreciate so much was just how little the movie actually told us. Why did that vaguely Dr. Mengele character keep drawing blood from tortured "POW" vampires and testing it until it changed colour? I doubt it was a pregnancy test, but it may as well have been. Scenes like these were wedged into the movie in an incongruous manner to serve the needs of the plot later on, and it just felt annoying instead of intriguing, like getting jabbed in the eye. Despite this, I liked that the vampire coven had a sense of history, especially how it linked into the back-story of both clans in such a seemingly abstract way before the reveal.
Perhaps unsurprising with such a convoluted plot, several logical fallacies appear. One that really stuck out to my friend (irritating him) was when Selene attempted to wake Viktor in his chamber, and was 'trapped' by an inquisitive Kraven; later we see her exiting and entering the hidden backdoor in the chamber like it ain't no thang. Handcuffs are shot off or survive bullet hits seemingly randomly. Did Wiseman just forget to explain that one away in ancient lore, or is this just a ploy to raise the tension?
If you can get over these inconsistencies, the acting is actually of a decent standard. Viktor, the de-facto leader of the vampire coven, played by Bill Nighy, alternates between fatherly devotion and cold murderous rage in an incredibly convincing way. Scott Speedman, who plays the human Michael, admirably grit his teeth against being ducked in water, tied up and being bitten "by a man", despite his character's lack of personality or development. I appreciate his suffering. Michael Sheen was in usual fine form, even though I would not have cast his pasty waif self as the leader of a lycan clan, he wore the fake fur well. Kate Beckinsale was the perfect living photograph (in someone's gothic-themed deviantART gallery) and managed to contrive a subtle emotive pull both on the audience and on Michael. Sadly, Sophia Myles, who played Erika, another vampire, was simply boob material in a gratuitous sex scene that not only didn't add to the plot, but got in the way of it...
The movie wasn't a total waste of time. Though plot-wise it bears too many similarities to the movies that came after it, this can only be thought of as complimentary and a nod to Underworld's influence. There are some pretty impressive weapons devised here, and equally breath-taking choreography in some of the action scenes; not to mention the surprising twists in the story. However, with a run-time of 121 minutes, Underworld just takes too long to get there. It's a case of too little, too late.
Director: Len Wiseman
Price: £3.76 (Amazon)
In the not so recent rise of vampire movies and programs, I had a spate of nostalgia and decided to dig out a vampire movie that did not involve anything sparkly and with werewolves that weren't really man-hunks, or fluffy dogs! The movie is Underworld, starring Kate Beckinsale, usually clad in a leathery outfit. The name may seem familiar as the fourth instalment was in cinemas fairly recently and is due on DVD any day - but no fear, I am returning to the original because, in my opinion, it is the best (of the Underworld movies anyway!)
Kate Beckinsale stars as Selene, a vampire death-dealer, whose job it is to hunt down and kill any remaining Lycans (werewolves to you and me). It is all she has done for 600 years - and she's pretty good at it! But one day, whilst chasing Lycans, she finds that they seem to have prey of their own; a human named Michael. Against the wishes of the temporary leader of their coven, Kraven (who by merry coincidence wants Selene and she's just not interested), Selene sets out to investigate and protect Michael from the Lycans and their mysterious ringleader - and discover what they want with him.
I bet you can almost guess what happens! To be honest, there are some very good twists and turns - and I'm going to be very careful not to give it away. Now that I've seen the film dozens of times the whole plot seems very obvious, but I think that that is to do with familiarity rather than the plot itself. The film itself holds a balance of ancient rivalries, infatuation, boy meets girl, betrayal, plots, and a fair bit of bloodshed. Pretty much what you would expect from a Vampire vs. Werewolf movie? I can't really say too much why I enjoy the film so much without giving the entire plot away but I'll give it a go! I love the twists and turns that are included in the story, making it a little more involved than it first seems. It also has a fairly well-grounded back story, which I absolutely love as this makes the whole story more fascinating and more believable, as though there is a history to it. There's a sprinkling of romance, but not too much. This plot focuses more on the rivalry between the two immortal clans, and how far they'll go to outlast the other - and become the dominant immortal.
Starring alongside Kate Beckinsale is: Scott Speedman as Michael, Bill Nighy as Viktor (another vampire) and Michael Sheen as Lucien the Lycan (who coincidentally was Kate's partner until this film!). I haven't really seen or heard of Scott Speedman too much, and he isn't what I would consider to be pretty, but this definitely isn't a film for pretty characters - other than the lovely Kate! I wouldn't say he is very memorable, but he does have a nice gentle voice and does the job well; I didn't cringe at his acting, so there must be some smidge of talent there! Bill Nighy is brilliant as Viktor, the ruler of the vampires and Selene's father figure - I think he actually suits the cool, calm, even coldblooded role of the leader of the vampire clan; or the role suits his personality. Michael Sheen is a bit like Viktor in character; he is cool and calm, but there's a little more passion there - he's a bit more of a friendly werewolf, but nowhere near as friendly as those in Twilight! There is still some cold-bloodedness there; indeed, his motives throughout the film are to find a way of becoming the dominant species and wiping out Vampires such as Viktor forever. There are some other familiar faces in the minor characters, but these four definitely stand out for me - and in a good way for once! Kate Beckinsale herself is excellent as the coldblooded Selene (I need to find another word other than that it seems!); she is ruthless when facing Lycans and seemingly fearless when coming up against even the most unexpected scenarios. And she looks rather good in all the leather she wears!
The film is quite dark - usually because it is set at night so the Vampires can survive (yes, we have proper Vampires ladies and gentlemen), and everyone seems to wear black and dark colours, and a fair smattering of leather. It all fits in with the perception of Vampires (and to some extent Lycans) to be quite gothic - although the Lycans are more grungy, sewer dwellers rather than living in a gothic mansion like the vampires. So if you have a small TV screen (like me) you may have to squint occasionally to see what is going on. Also, a lot of the actors have quite quiet voices, so you may need to pop the volume up - and then right back down when there is dramatic music or an action scene, but it's not too bad for that, I think I just have my TV quite quiet a lot of the time anyway!
One thing I would say is that Underworld can be quite graphic in areas - hence the 15 rating. The transformations of the Lycans from human to werewolf used to creep me out when I was younger as it is accompanied by lovely bone crunching sounds! There is a lot of blood and gore; at one point a head gets sliced in half for the audience to delight in, but I think that is the worst of it. The second film is a lot more graphic - this indeed seems tame compared to it. I think though that the film doesn't go too overboard with graphic details, but does feature a fair bit of blood splatter!
Also, I can't work out where the film was set! It seems to be modern day - as evidenced by the Nokia phone and UV bullets. But the actual location seems to be unidentifiable; there are American accents, British accents - but as most of the main cast are British it would almost make sense for the film to be set in Britain but I can't work it out. I almost hope that this is supposed to be the case; that this war could be going on anywhere right now, rather than a specific city at a specific time - it adds to the realism of it, and the anonymity of the 'war that has been raging for centuries'. I love this idea, and I will stick to it until someone points out that Underworld is very clearly set in such and such a place - hopefully that won't happen because my impression will be right!
Overall, I find Underworld rather enjoyable - especially now that I am older and scare less easily! It is not the sort of Vampire film that teenagers nowadays will expect, but that is a good thing! This is how Vampires & werewolves should be I feel, stealthily waging war against each other and leaving humans relatively well enough alone. The cast is excellent - a surprising mix but they work really well together, with good chemistry between them all. The story is cleverly done, but not too complex and I don't find myself willing it to end; usually I'm a little gutted it seems over so quickly, but it tells the story it set out to, and keeps my interest the entire time. I'd say that it is perhaps a little too graphic at first, but the more I watch it the less it bothers me, but it's definitely something to watch out for when you first watch it. I'd definitely recommend it - and it is a refreshing change from the Vampire films around nowadays!
*Film only review*
A war between vampires and lycans has been raging for years; the vampires have the upper hand but the lycans are plotting to become the dominant force. Selene (Kate Beckinsale) is a vampire who hunts lycans; she discovers that they are very interested in a human, Michael Corvin (Scott Speedman). Selene must work out why he is so important to keep the lycans from becoming more powerful.
Directed by Len Wiseman (Die Hard 4.0); written by Kevin Grevioux, Len Wiseman and Danny McBride.
Underworld is a gothic action movie that definitely gives you a lot of bang for your buck. It turns out vampires are very trigger happy when it comes to guns. I've seen a few Len Wiseman films now and his direction leaves quite a bit to be desired. There is nothing original about the way he shoots a movie. Underworld is seen by many as a rip off of The Matrix and I can see why, having said that, any movie now that uses slow-motion cameras when filming a scene involving a gun will probably be called a rip off of The Matrix.
I like the concept of the movie, vampires vs. werewolves, but the plot gets extremely complicated as there is a lot of back story to get through. The 3rd movie in the series, the prequel to Underworld, actually helps straighten out some of history (though there are a few inconsistencies...). I see why the history is important but at the same time I think it could have been told in a more linear fashion to make it a little easier to digest. Having a simpler back story might have cut down on the run time as well, which at 2 hours long drags in places.
The action scenes are impressive at times but also quite sloppy at others. There are a lot of scenes showing vampires firing rounds and rounds of bullets and lycans running along walls, it gets a little too repetitive. Also, for all the bullets fired by vampires, they really aren't that successful at killing anything. The special effects again are hit and miss, Underworld had a relatively small budget ($22m) and they clearly pushed it to the max.
The cast is quite impressive and is one of the main reasons for returning to the series. Kate Beckinsale (The Aviator) heads the film as Selene, the Death Dealer vampire. Much of the success of the Underworld series is seen to be down to Beckinsale and her pvc outfit. Pretty obvious why. I've always been a fan of Beckinsale and think she puts in another solid performance here. She portrays Selene as a killer but also gives her a softness that makes you care what happens to her as the movie progresses.
Scott Speedman (Felicity) is Michael Corvin, a pivotal player in the war and love interest to Selene. He was in my opinion a poor choice, most of the time he comes across like a wet blanket. Given the screen dominating performances from Beckinsale, Sheen and Nighy, Speedman gets a little lost in the background. This wouldn't be a problem if he was merely there to play the boyfriend but he plays an important role. Early on we see Michael bitten by Lucian (Michael Sheen) so a lot of the movie builds up to his transformation into a werewolf. Really quite disappointing. I was expecting something special but he ends up looking kind of like a Smurf, without the big hat obviously.
Lucian, leader of the lycans, is played by the excellent Michael Sheen (Frost/Nixon). Sheen is always good; he makes you believe that this character really could exist. Would have been nice for some of the other lycans to be given more lines and developed a bit more, having said that the acting was often rather poor from the lycan community, so maybe not.
Bill Nighy (Love Actually) is totally over the top as vampire elder Viktor. He clearly enjoyed hamming this role up to the max. Where Sheen made it kind of serious for a fantastical movie, Nighy brings it right back to B movie status. He definitely commands your attention as a viewer but I'm not really fond of what he brought to the table in Underworld.
Shane Brolley (Spread) and Sophia Myles (Thunderbirds) provide good support in the vampire coven. As I said earlier, I do wish there were better supporting characters for the lycans. Although the vampires are the main focus, the lycans were given enough screen time to have better actors and better writing. The movie is essentially all about Selene though so I guess the writers weren't too fussed.
I did enjoy Underworld and I have seen it quite a few times now, but I can't help but think it could have been so much better. Beckinsale and Sheen were great but the screenplay was flawed and the quality of the action scenes was inconsistent. An enjoyable action movie if you just go along for the ride.
DVD extras (2 disc edition):
Director and writer commentary
Sights and sounds of Underworld
The making of Underworld
Finch 'Worms Of The Earth'
Kate Beckinsale - Selene
Scott Speedman - Michael Corvin
Michael Sheen - Lucian
Shane Brolly - Kraven
Bill Nighy - Viktor
Erwin Leder - Singe
Sophia Myles - Erika
Runtime: 121 mins
Also posted on ciao under the username shabbating.
I watched this film last night. I have had the dvd for quite a long time and had never got round to watching it before but I recorded the third one in the series the other night off sky so thought it best to watch the first two first.
Underworld is a story about the battle between the Vampires and the Lycan (Werewolves) which has been going on for centuries. This chapter is about Selene who is a vampire who hunts down Lycans to kill them. She discoveres that the Lycans are hunting a human called Michael which is very unlike them as they only usually hunt humans for food but this time they want his alive and she wants to find out why. She develops a relationship with this Michael and the story continues.
The film is quite dark as you would expect from a gothic inspired film. Kate Beckinsale is good in the role of Selene the vampire. I didnt think much of Bill Nighy's role as the Vampire leader Victor though. I thought he played the part like a baddy in a pantomine and he wasnt at all scary like he should have been for someone with that amount of power. I thought the bit where he was walking about with the tubes hanging out of him was laughable. Up to this point in the film I had been quite enjoying it but it seemed to go down hill fast after this.
I have to say I was quite disappointed with this film, the story wasnt too bad but the characters were not very believeable (as far as you can believe characters of this kind). I will still like to watch the second in the series though to see if it is a better effort than the first.
Others in the film were Michael Sheen as Lucian the leader of the Lycan, Shane Brolly as Kraven, another vampire and Scott Speedman as Michael Corvin.
The film was rated a 15 in the UK and it lasts for 121 minutes. It was directed by Len Wiseman.
Underworld, directed by Len Wiseman, is a slick 2003 vampire vs werewolf film, but it is curiously devoid of any real depth of intrigue, meaning it's not really up to much more than some of the staunchly staid horror films that have been inundating our screens for the last decade or so. It may have style and impressive visuals, as well as some decent performances (such as an early, long-haired turn from Frost/Nixon star Michael Sheen), but it's devoid of soul, and just too serious and believing in its own smug hype to really resonate. This is a film that sorely needs a jibe or a chuckle in between all of the blood sucking and fighting.
Underworld deals with the secret history of Vampires and a type of werewolf known as Lycans. Selene (Kate Beckinsale), a vampire, is a "death dealer", imaginatively enough meaning that she hunts and kills Lycans, werewolf-esque entities that, of course, can't stand the vampires either. Selene finds herself taking a shine to a human named Michael (Scott Speedman), who is being hunted by the Lycans, and when he's bitten by a Lycan and thus turned into one of them, she is left with a debate - either save him from being hunted down and leave her clan, or let him go to his death. Naturally, you can guess what she chooses, and so the film then unfolds with the pretension of moral complexity, when the smart choice has been obvious from the very opening.
Cynical as I am about the film's almos smug style, it IS a very good looking film, and well directed without a doubt. The action scenes are dynamic and unique, but the film just hasn't got a soul, and I couldn't find any reason to like or connect with any of the characters - things unfold with the cold precision of a surgeon.
Underworld features slick direction and decent performances, yet is marred by an uninvolving, mostly unoriginal plot, and an overly self-serious tone that means it's not much fun.
*Minor spoilers contained*
- Background Information -
For a huge fan of all things supernatural 'Underworld' seems to be right up my street. First given its theatrical release in 2003, the movie is the first in a trilogy of films [so far] and was one of the cinema events of the year.
The film deciphers a centuries old war, being fought without human knowledge between vampires and werewolves [who in this film are known as Lycans]. Set in modern times a lot of the mythology is laid out in the movie itself and this film focuses more on the main protagonist Selene [played by Kate Beckinsale], a vampire who spends her immortal existence destroying as many of the Lycans as she possibly can. In 'Underworld' she unwittingly stumbles upon a secret plot being developed by the Lycans that could have huge repercussions for both species as they're planning to use the latest in a line of a common ancestor shared by the two species to create an indestructible monster that would have the strengths of both races and neither of their weaknesses.
The human in question is one Michael Corvin [Scott Speedman], who Selene finds herself developing romantic feelings for and she struggles with the notion of doing her duty and killing him or defying her coven and letting him live.
- Opinion -
For a film that is so firmly rooted in supernatural and mythological creatures, 'Underworld' reads more like an 'action-horror' film than just plain horror. This is demonstrated in the often far fetched fight scenes between the two races most notably at the start of the film in a subway. There's a lot of bloody and extreme violence often as the result of guns. Why would supposedly powerful creatures use guns you ask? Well, perhaps they're just getting lazy...
Beckinsale plays a believable part as heroine Selene. She oozes a street-wise, sexy feel but also is able to express her vulnerability on several occasions. Her feelings and turmoil over doing the right thing really grab you as a viewer. I didn't really think much of Speedman on the other hand. The chemistry between the two wasn't right and he just seemed out of place in the movie.
Other notable characters include Michael Sheen as the Lycan ruler, Lucian who is every bit the convincing villain even if he does need a bit of a wash. The scene in the elevator in which he bites Michael is just terrifying to watch and probably for me one of the creepiest moments in the film. Shane Brolly, portrays Kraven, the second in command of the vampire coven and whom is working in league with Lucian, this is until Selene awakens one of the elders - her sire and mentor Viktor who is shockingly played by Bill Nighy. It shouldn't really work but Nighy has a great presence and looks every bit the terrifying monster in all his vampire make up as his features are more distorted than the rest who resemble humans.
The plot moves quite slowly at first as the film introduces all the characters and sets up the story though this could be quite boring and lifeless there are a handful of superb action scenes scattered around them that relaxes the film and stops you losing interest. The final showdown is immensely gripping, bringing all the major characters together with some shock twists and some of the most gruesome moments in the film. Whilst this film has some consistences with lore with regards to both species, it does invent some of its own such as the fact that the vampires seem to have a reflection for instance.
Writing wise, the script is pretty well done with an equally talented cast who slide into their roles with ease. Special effects on the other hand are more of a mixed bag with the werewolf morphing being exceptionally cool and chilling at the same time, whilst other action scenes in the film seem to be poorly executed and not that believable.
- Special Features -
There is a two disc deluxe version of the movie available that offers a larger insight into this mythical world of darkness with virtually every aspect picked apart such as a featurette on the making of the film, creature effects, stunts and also a music video of Finch's track 'Worms of The Earth'. If you buy the standard edition, you can still be treated to a director and writers commentary of the movie.
- Conclusion -
'Underworld' is rated 15 for a reason as there are some particularly violent and blood spilling scenes on offer. The film is very intense and dark and in a time where the likes of 'Twilight' amongst others seem to be glorifying vampires as heroes, 'Underworld' makes both of its main species as haunting and as deadly as possible. With great acting, a flawless script and some half washed special effects, its easy to see why the film was such a hit. Though it does rely too heavily on the action side of things for my liking, it was still a very enjoyable watch.
Underworld is essentially about vamipers, one clan in particular, and their extermination of werewolves. It comes across as an eternal battle of good vs evil. When one female vampire suddenly starts to unearth that they are being lied to, the film centres around this inner conflict inside her between trusting her family and doing what is right. This internal battle gains a face when she meets a human being hunted by werewolves and takes a keen interest to find out why. The man is then bitten by a werewolve and all hell lets loose for her. She falls in love with the now werewolve and decides to protect him for the vampire clan hunting him down and the werewolves who appear to be doing the same. It's revealed that the werewolves have a leader who was previously thought dead and great ambitions for the mixing of vampire and werewolve blood to create a hybrid. But I wont give away the end result, don't want to spoil it for you. lol
~ An Immortal Battle for Supremacy ~
I first saw the film when I rented it from the local video shop and thought it was brilliant. The eerie pictures and captivating cover instantly drew me toward it. I had seen adverts and trailers when it arrived at the cinema and waited until it was released as everyone knows the price of cinema tickets are quite steep so I don't tend to go much unless I really want to see something. The plot sounded good and I love vampire movies so thought id give it a go. I have properly seen the film about four more times after renting it that first time and found I enjoyed it every time. I didn't know any of the actors included and Len Wiseman was a new director to me. As the film as been played on television a number of times now I try to avoid seeing it too many times as it would properly get really annoying.
~ INFO ~
Director- Len Wiseman
Writers- Kevin Grevioux and Len Wiseman
Distributed- Screen Gems (Sony)
Release date- 19 September 2003 (UK)
Runtime- 121 Mins
~ PLOT ~
There is an ongoing secret war between vampires and a werewolf creature known as the Lycans. Selene is a powerful, sassy vampire who is a Lycan hunter and is known for her brutal and ruthless killings for the hated species.
After a usual night on the streets hunting the werewolves she comes across a human who is being attacked called Michael which she finds instantly attracted too. She helps him recover form his injuries but discovers he has a future ahead of him that she should not be apart of and she has to choose what to do. Secrets about her kind are revelled and Selene has important choices to make.
~ MAIN CHARACTERS ~
Selene- Kate Beckinsale
Selene is a young, powerful vampire who is indeed one of the best fighters. She likes to hunt alone and has a pure hatred for the Lycans. She is independent, strong and intelligent and most vampires are wary of her.
Selene makes a great protagonist and attracts both the females for liking her power and skill and the men for her sassy and sexy look. Kate Beckinsale has played many parts in several successful films including Vacancy (2007) and a lead role in Pearl harbour (2001).
Michael Corvin- Scott Speedman
Michael plays a human who is dramatically introduced to the life of vampires and Lycans. He is saved by a vampire Selene who he finds a bond with and gains trust from her. He is lost in a dangerous world and needs all the help he can get. When finding his way Michael is pretty strong and is shown to be an excellent fighter. Scott Speedman has mainly been in televison which is why I hadn't heard of him before but has appeared in several films after his role in this.
Lucian- Michael Sheen
Lucian is a Lycan Overlord who was thought to have been dead. He is dangerous, merciless and wants his revenge on the vampire species. He has had a terrible past which is to be paid for when he gets hold of the vampire lord. Michael Sheen although has done more television than films has appeared in Blood Diamond and the other Underworld films where his part grows.
Viktor- Bill Nighly
Viktor is the Lord of the vampires who is raised by Selene to help win this war. After being woken early and not being impressed with her behaviour he seeks to rule the vampires into victory. He is a strong minded leader who is hard-heartened but seems to have a soft spot for Selene. Bill Nighly is a well known actor and I didn't know he was in it until I saw him. He has starred in films such as- Pirates of the Caribbean, Hot Fuzz and Love Actually.
~ OTHER CHARACTERS ~
Kraven- Shane Brolly
Singe- Erwin Leder
Erika- Sophia Myles
Raze- Kevin Grevioux
Dr Adam - Wentworth Miller
~ OPINIONS ~
MISE EN SCENE
I loved the look and atmosphere in the film throughout. It is very gloomy and has a Blanc Noir affect like films such as Sin City. The dark images and dim lighting really gives it a revulsion look about it. The settings of the dark alleys and leather clothing make it a definite success in finding the right tension for the film. Everything adds to this feeling, the dark clothing, narrative, settings and the choices of dim lighting. The cast choice of Kate Beckinsale was a great choice and she adds to the dark and sinister mood. Having the film set always at night obviously as vampires can't go out in the day created a symbolic horror film. The film has a very vivid look about it and I think Wiseman achieved the target atmosphere.
EDITING, CAMERA SHOTS and SP/FX
I loved the different shots that were evident in the film as it made it a lot more interesting and gave the action scenes a fast pace to keep the audience excited.
Even though I think the special effects could have been a little better they were believable and not over the top. The fight scenes were interesting and had a lot to them. Each scene I think was shot well and it all fitted well to give it a fast, action film. The use of close ups were good especially to show the bond between Michael and Selene. The emotions are seen and you really feel for them. Also there were many establishing shots which really helped the movement of the narrative. The long shots of each scene showed where the character was without having to say it and having a lot of different locations this was easily the right way to show this. It gave nice shots of the surrounding country of Hungary. The effects of the werewolves were standard but a lot better than in other movies. They did look pretty decent and I was happy with the way they portrayed them.
I really enjoyed the film and thought it was a brilliant vampire film with a difference. Having a female protagonist was good especially being a strong, vampire warrior it reminded me of Blade but having a female lead. Selene's character is great; she is sexy, sarcastic and can over power many other males.
Her outfit is stunning (properly more for the male gaze) and really gives her a gothic, sassy look. Although this is a great element, I think the film's success had a lot to do with Kate's look and performance. This attracts both male and females to watch the film. All of the actors were well suited and did a good performance. Although I did think the character developments could have progressed a little more.
The narrative is pretty good quality. It is interesting and can potentially have a lot come out of it and it does contain a few twists which are good. It also had some interesting views on vampires and werewolves which I liked as most films include the same factors when it comes to what vampires and werewolves are and do. There are new ideas being unfolded and there are new rules and weapons like ultraviolet bullets which I thought were fab. I liked the love story between the two rival creatures like a different version of Romeo and Juliet. As well as this I liked how we found out about the history of some characters including Viktor and Lucian. Even though we know there is a war going on it is good to know the rival between certain characters and why they have such hatred toward one another. The thing I found abit confusing is with both sides being creatures of the night it was hard to see who was actually right or if you like which side was good and which was evil as you sympathise with a few characters from each side.
The action scenes were not spectacular but very well done. The gunfights were really good to watch and when they got up close and personal the martial art combat is shown slightly. The violence in the film was in proportion to the action and seeing how savage these creatures are there has to be gory deaths included or it wouldn't be right.
Underworld was received more negatively than good when it was released and I think it is a very under rated film. There are many that say the film is too much like The Matrix and Blade which I don't think is true. Even though having the same elements of dark settings and eerie mood the movies are totally different. The narrative of underworld is one that hasn't been done by a successful movie and the way it is filmed gives it a unique factor. I am a huge fan of both Blade and The Matrix and think all three films have their own brilliant ways about them. The film was given a rotten tomato rating of just 29% which is quite low as many said there should have been more special effects and the narrative was bad. Another criticism is that it is unrealistic which is funny seeing as the film is about vampires and werewolves which aren't real anyways.
~ EXTRAS ~
Can be brought from play.com for £4.99. 2 disc special edition.
* Director and writer commentary
* Technical effects
* Creature features
* Stunts featurette
* Sights and sounds of Underworld
* The making of Underworld
* Finch 'Worms Of The Earth'
* Storyboard comparison
* TV spots
* Interactive menus
* Scene selection
~ RECOMMEND ~
I would defiantly recommend underworld to anyone who likes these kinds of films, if you like Blade and the matrix you will like this film. It has great action, brilliant scenery and good characters to like. For a copy at £4.99 I think this is really good quality and it is worth buying a copy.
~ Thanks for reading Blackmagicstar4 ~ FEB 09~ published on Ciao and Dooyoo~
During hundreds of years, two supernatural and mortally enemy races are stopping secrettlya bloody war in a gotic city, one underworld hidden of the humanity. These beings are the aristocratic vampires, that live in a sophisticated society, having as their current leader the arrogant Kraven, substituting the asleep supreme head Viktor temporarily, and as main warrior, Selene, and lycans (the werewolfs), fierce creatures who live in lesser number in the underground, led for Lucian and having as the one of his brutal and aggressive members Raze giant. In a nocturnal patrol, vampire Selene discovers the existence of a great amount of lycans living in the underground of the city, being that they believed that they were almost terminated. However, in contrast, werewolfs are still more strong and organizing for one planned attack, being able to changed itself independent of the appearance of the full moon, beyond using modern weapons as projectiles formed of ultraviolet, mortal rays to the vampires. And these in turn, are beings that do not fear religious things and symbols, do not have aversion to the garlic and possess consequences in the mirrors in contrast, of what normally we know on these creatures, and between their powerful weapons they are loaded projectiles with nitrate of silver, fatal against werewolfs. The special effects of this movie is very impressive and the actors are alsoo amazing. watch this movie.
This movie Rocks. It is extremely exciting and suspenseful and the supernatural aspects of this movie are played very well. The special effects are amazing, the acting of Kate Beckinsale is wonderful, she plays a vampire to perfection. I love to find good movies about vampires because there are so many out there that are just awful. This is one of the good ones, believe me. The fight scenes are choregraphed beautifully and look extremely realistic. If you like supernatural films this one is a MUST SEE.
This movies revolves around the world of Vampires and Lycans (Werewolves) who have been at war with each other for centuries. The movie starts out with the Lycan clan searching for a particular human with particular blood coursing through his veins. This specific human is believed to be an ancestor of the very first vampire of all time. Micahel Corvin, played well by Scott Speedman, is a medical student who has pledged his life to helping others, and just happens to be the specific human the Lycans are after. However, the vampires will do anything they can to stop the vampires from acquiring Michael.
Kate Beckinsale plays the vampire Selene, who is not very good at following the rules. She goes behind her covens back and kidnaps Michael to keep him away from the Lycans, even after he has been bitten by one and will most likely turn when the full moon rises.
This story is intense and will have you sitting at the edge of your seat. The love story that erupts between Michael and Selene is a heartwarming tale you don't want to miss.
The 2003 film Underworld combines fast paced action with dark and moody horror. The two genres combine with good effect.
For centuries, the Vampires and Lycans (werewolves) have fought for control of the Underworld. Selene, a female vampire, uncovers a plot to kidnap a doctor, Michael Corvin, and use him to awaken a new species of creature, one that combines both species of werewolf and vampire, and will swing power to the werewolves.
The Cast and Performances
Kate Beckinsale plays Selene, and does so very sexily. Her performance in the action sequences is very impressive, particularly when combined with the sinister acting talents of Scott Speedman and Michael Corvin, who gives a good performance as the doctor supposedly caught in the middle. Support comes very strongly from Michael Sheen, Shane Brolly and in particular Bill Nighy, and there is a strong part from Wentworth Miller, better known for headlining the hit show Prison Break.
Director Len Wiseman has created a brilliant mood in this film. Shot mostly in darkness and within four walls, the performances, scenery and clothing all lend themselves to this, what is essentially a very good vampire/werewolf movie. Granted, there are weaknesses, and at times things do not flow as well as perhaps they could, but I enjoyed this from start to finish and have no complaints.
The special effects with the vampires and werewolves is very cleverly done. Many of the characters appear in a semi-transformative state, and have to do so for a while, and the eeriness and suspense created throughout is of top quality.
Overall, I found this immensely enjoyable, and it helps that Kate Beckinsale oozes sexual confidence the entire way through.
A very well made film, good performances and directing.
I rate this film at 4 stars out of 5.
The DVD is available from amazon.co.uk for £7.48.
This review may also be posted on ciao.co.uk.
Thanks for reading.
This film is a gothic action thriller from 2003. It is classed as horror but there is none unless you are scared of wolfmen and women. Personally this doesn't scare me. Looking at myself if I don't shave for few days I look like these characters in couple of days.
Essentially this film is about vampires and wolverines, one sucks blood the other kills for blood and flesh.
Selene is an assassin for one of the groups. She is assigned duties to kill the other clan's warriors. At certain point in the movie she develops doubts regarding sincerity of her group leader. Eventually this leads to a conspiracy and the fall out carries over to the next movie.
One thing that amazes me here is the sexiness of Kate Beckinsale. I mean in real life she is a pretty woman but here in this film leather transforms her into sexy high kicking super fit diva. Imagine having sex with her it could go on for weeks, perish the thought.
Anyway the film is great action flick. It is quite enjoyable and the actions scenes remind me little bit of matrix.
A word of caution guys. The film is shot in the dark and sometime you don't see everything.
Underworld is a 2003 action-'horror' film about the secret history of vampire and werewolf clans. The latter are referred to as "Lycan" throughout the film.
It is the first film in the Underworld series, that also features Underworld: Evolution and Underworld: Rise of the Lycans is also planned for 2009.
The main plot revolves around Selene (Kate Beckinsale), a vampire "Death Dealer", or one who hunts Lycans, a job she is extremely good at due to her hatred for the whole species, whom she believes to have killed her entire family. She finds herself attracted to a medical intern, Michael Corvin (Scott Speedman), after saving him from the Lycan master Lucian (who bit Michael and infected him with the Lycan virus), and must decide whether to do her "duty" and kill him or to risk her life to save him. The movie has many parallels as a dark Romeo and Juliet tale; with star crossed lovers that fall for each other but cannot be together due to the feuding that occurs between the 2 sets of families/clans.
The film is classed as an action-horror but i would really call it a horror film as it isn't particularly scary. It has lots of action and blood in it and you have to wait until the very end for the best murder of the film...it is definitely worth the wait though! The acting is what you would expect from an action film with it not being particularly breath taking but it is less wooden than your normal soap. However some of the fight scenes could have been from them. You can actually see the punches missing each other.
Furthermore, during the course of the film numerous bullets and weapons are fired at each other. With no one seemingly dieing. This is very annoying through out the film as I am constantly thinking why will you not die.
The film is completely set in the dark, we are dealing with vampires here folks! But this dark film helps create the Gothic film that occurs throughout. The costumes are a bit strange but original. Not many films can say they included a vampire in a PVC suite that Posh Spice would have been proud with back during the Spice years.
The story line seems to jump about quite a lot and it feels like the writers have been making the story up as they go along. Also the story can be quite confusing and you have to pay particular attention to the story, especially when back story is being revealed. However the story is original and provides a new spin by film makers in the world of vampires.
This was the first film in the series I watched and i think i would have been probably lost if I had watched the second first! Therefore i would recommend watching this one first!
If you enjoy films such as Blade, The Matrix Trilogy and Kill Bill you will probably enjoy this film. However if you are more of a Calender Girls and Miss Potter person then I would tell you to stay clear of this film. The film is just under 2hours in length and I would watch it when there is definitely nothing else on television that is worth watching as you may feel it wasn't worth the sacrifice!
Rent out from blockbusters or for cheapest price visit www.amazon.co.uk
Not the greatest film but it wasn't the worst.
Running time:1 hr 56 min
I do love the idea of Vampires and Were-wolves, in fact I'm just a sucker for the whole dark Gothic fantasy horror type genre be it film or book form. So of course Underworld and Underworld Evolution found their way from eBay to my house pretty easily on my last DVD hunt.
Upon arrival I eagerly awaited little boy's bedtime so I could watch my "oh... silly monster films" in relative peace.
Well "AN IMMORTAL BATTLE FOR SUPREMECY" I am promised by the box. Yes, it is that.
Disc 1 : The Film (also features Director and writers commentary
plus Technical commentary)
It's all about Vampires and Werewolves (Lycan) who have been at war fighting it out for centuries, albeit unnoticed by us mere humans. Basically the Vampires are 'winning' for want of a better term or so they think, they do not consider the Lycan any real threat to their by comparison 'organized' and 'civilized' Vampire society, more as a troublesome pack of feral beasts to be exterminated. They seem somewhat 'smug' in their own little world and don't seem to credit the Lycan with much (if any) intelligence - Mistake.
Anyhow after a lady in black leather brings you up to speed with what's going on, the film plunges you straight in at the deep end with an all-action....who the hell is who (or what in this case)... gun filled clash of the 2 clans on the underground. You get to figure out who's what and follow Selene the lady from the beginning who brought you up to speed to the wonderful world of the Vampire Clan. Not forgetting some great scenes of the Were-wolves.
Michael on the other hand is a human, a happy enough chap going about his business like the rest of us, until he comes to the attention of both the Vampires and the Lycan. The war rages once more for the ownership of his body and soul, oh and and blood... As the film goes on a lot of Vampire politics, power trips and double crossing come to light (or should that be dark?) The origin of both species it seems is bound together...
That's your lot for the plot really as if you haven't seen it I'll only go and ruin it.
Disc 2 : The Making of Underworld
This includes: Creature Effects, Stunts, Sights and Sounds, Storyboard Comparison, Music Video- Finch's "Worms Of The Earth, TV Spots...loads of stuff !!
Features interviews with some of the actors and some 'behind the scences' looks at how they pulled off the stunts and special effects. They show you the training and effort it takes to pull off the stunts and the organising of those impressive fight scenes. The Sights and sound is a collection of more 'behind the scences' clips, some are pretty funny.
The creature effects is actually pretty interesting showing the hard work that went into creating the Were-wolf costumes and such, basically a look at how they brought the characters to life.
The storyboard shows the original ideas - the drawings of how the scene was meant to be and what the scene looks like in the film.
You also get the music video Finch's "Worms Of The Earth' single part of the all rock film soundtrack. TV spots is just Trailers for the film.
Well lot of work and dare I say a bit of research has gone into putting this tale together, though they don't play by 'classical' rules of Vampires and Were-wolves. It's not the best of films but it's good.
As a film of this 'type' I could name many I like not one being perfect. It does have loads of action, plenty of shoot-ups, and a surprisingly good plot.. The acting is good, Special effects are pretty cool too. The Rock, Heavy Rock...and well yes - more Rock - soundtrack is my thing too - and it does fit well with the mood of the film.
If you liked the whole 'Blade' thing then it's you'll probably like this too. It's got similar vibe to it with a whole war going on without human society noticing, plenty of style with all that leather (but with those oh-so-cool matrix-style long black sweeping coats..) It's also got the specialized Vampire / Were-wolf technology too, kick-ass weapons with special bullets and suchlike.
If your like me and a sucker for Dark Gothic atmosphere and a Fantasy film that has a plot then go for it !
Thanks for reading, also on ciao under same user-name.
The war had all but ground to a halt in the blink of an eye. Lucian, the most feared and ruthless leader ever to rule the Lycan clan, had finally been killed. The Lycan horde scattered to the wind in a single evening of flame and retribution. Victory, it seemed, was in our grasp, the very birthright of the vampires. Nearly six centuries had passed since that night, yet the ancient feud proved unwilling to follow Lucian to the grave. Though Lycans were fewer in number, the war itself had become more perilous, for the moon no longer held her sway. Older, more powerful Lycans, were now able to change at will. The weapons had evolved, but our orders remained the same: Hunt them down and kill them off, one by one. A most successful campaign. Perhaps too successful. For those like me, a Death Dealer, this signaled the end of an era. Like the weapons of the previous century, we, too, would become obsolete. Pity, because I lived for it.
And so we are introduced to the setting for 2003's dark fantasy horror, Underworld. An ancient feud has been ongoing for millenia, the Vampire Clans on one side with their decadant lifestyle constantly locked in immortal combat with the Lycans, shapechanging werewolves, who are becoming braver and more powerful, and all of this taking place in the shadows and back streets of the modern world. The film opens in dramatic fashion as the one time underground struggle spills into the world of humans and a fast and action packed gun battle between the Death Dealers, Vampire hunter-assassins and a group of predatory Lycans ensues. It is here that we meet the main character, Selene, the alabaster skined, leather clad beauty, the narrator of the opening introduction and instant death to any Lycan she meets. Only she seems aware of the growing threat to their Clan as the Lycans grow stronger. Her leader Kraven believes her ways are out moded and the threat from their old adverseries is in her mind, but there is more to Kravens outlook on the situation than first meets the eye. It is this division in the ranks that Selene believes will be the downfall of their existance.
The Lycans are regarded by the Vampires as a pack of brutes, ignorant dogs who poses no threat to them, but they have come a long way. They have developed new powers and embraced modern military technology, but their greatest secret is that they are conducting genetic testing and are about to make a serious breakthrough. It is believed that in the distant past, before the war began, Lycans and Vampires had a common ancestry, many believe this to be a myth but the Lycans know better, and if they can find the descendant of this genetic origin they will be able use the blood to give them self the powers inherent in both races and become the dominant beings, and they have found their man.
Michael is a human, a simple medical intern, un aware of the secret carried in his blood stream and the war between the races becomes a war for the ownership of his body and soul, his very life force. In the struggle between Selene and the Lycan leader, Lucius, Michael is bitten and begins his transformation into Lycanthropic status. Selene must stop him falling into Lycan hands but along the way it becomes apparent that she is falling in love with him. Two lovers from mutually exclusive worlds, sounds familiar.."Wherfore art thou Romeo..."
As the story unfolds double dealing, backstabbing and political power games all become interwoven, and it is this depth to the story that raises it above the usual vampire flick. It is a film that will appeal to fans of Blade and the Matrix as it combines that dark essence from the former with the high tech of the latter.The characters themselves are also dressed in a very Matrix type fashion, a mix of skin tight leather, biker chic and Victoriana. If you want the more traditional take on the whole Vampire genre then Interview with the Vampire is the place to be, this is very much high octane, bullets-a-plenty futuristic, science fiction based horror. The filming and visuals are as you would expect from such a setting, dark rain soaked back streets, moonwashed crumbling tenement blocks balanced against the opulent surroundings of the Vampire Clans, all velvet and soft furnishings.
The actors make the best of what are fairly predictable characterisations, but Kate Beckinsale is visually right for the part of Selene, Bill Nighy makes a great looking undead Vampire master and Michael Sheen as Lucian also looks like he has walked the earth since the Middle Ages. The script is adequete but nothing memorable, what sells this movie is the look and atmosphere of the overall film.
If horror is your thing, especially Vampires then this is one to own, for the rest of you rent it and make your own mind up, its not the best horror film ever made but its tried its best and done a reasonable job.