Newest Review: ... 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,... more
Nightime, Leather, No Sparkles - It must be a real vampire movie! (Film-only)
Member Name: tinkerbell18
Advantages: Good plot, excellent cast
Disadvantages: Bit gorey in places
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!
Summary: A classic movie for classic vampires