Len Wiseman

  • Underworld (2003)


    UnderworldUnderworld (2003)

    Starring Kate Beckinsale, Scott Speedman, Michael Sheen, Shane Brolly, Erwin Leder, Sophia Myles, Robbie Gee, Wentworth Miller and Lord Sandwich

    Directed by Len Wiseman

    Last night, Laura and I went to see Underworld. Since the Internet is nothing if not a place for the masses to make their opinions known, here’s my review.

    I wanted Underworld to be a vampires ‘n’ werewolves retelling of The Bard’s Romeo & Juliet, I really did. I wanted to see passion and chemistry. I wanted the vampire and the werewolf to be consumed by desire and need for one another. I wanted hot girl-on-lycanthrope action.

    You can’t always get what you want. You don’t always get what you want. I didn’t even get a little bit of what I wanted.

    First off, there’s Selene, played by the (I’ll admit it) very fetching Kate Beckinsale. Two words: black leather. Oh, and another word: brood. Selene wears black leather – a lot of it – and broods. Boy, does she brood. She also kicks a fair amount of were-ass. Unfortunately, what she doesn’t do is fall madly in love with Michael (played by some guy whose name I haven’t the inclination to look up on IMDB.). Well, maybe she does, but how, when and why are beyond me. It just never comes across.

    Then there’s the other half of our star-crossed couple, Michael. His destiny is tied to that of both the vampire vampyre and werewolf lycan clans. To spoil the how would imply that there was real logic in the reason his destiny is so bound. When the explanation of why he’s so important finally arrives, though, it doesn’t really add up. Here’s a one. Here’s another one. Put them together and you should get two. What you actually wind up with is some imaginary number.

    Chemistry is a two-way street. Or maybe chemistry is a door that swings both ways. Regardless of which it is, our Romeo doesn’t really fall in love with Juliet at any point. What he does is stumble around confused and befuddled most of the time. He also writhes quite a bit. He’s a good writher.

    Michael and Selene aren’t the only characters in Underworld. There’s Kraven, the current head of the toothy coven. He’s a snappy dresser, he wants Selene to be his queen, and he’s incredibly boring. Surrounded by British accents, this guy is awkwardly American. By “awkwardly,” I mean that certain words have an almost Irish lilt to them, leading me to wonder if the accent (or what some in the United States might consider the lack of one) is artificial. Kind of like Colin Farrell playing an American, only not nearly as well. Accent aside, Kraven is simply dull. He has no aura of authority, he doesn’t exude any measure of power, and his presence doesn’t demand any respect whatsoever. He’s been left in charge of the coven, yet I couldn’t see a single reason why any self-respecting bloodsucker would listen to the guy.

    The leader of the werewolves turns out to have the most interesting story of any character, but to go into detail about it would give away parts of the backstory that actually make sense.

    Action. There’s a fair amount of it. Mostly second-rate Matrix-style shootouts with werewolves crawling on the ceiling. Yes, the ceiling. I had no idea that werewolves could do that sort of thing. Perhaps they were bitten by a wolf that had been bitten by a radioactive spider.

    In terms of special effects, there’s nothing in Underworld that hasn’t been done before and done better. The werewolf transformations were clunky, and far less interesting than David Naughton’s metamorphosis in An American Werewolf in London. The gunplay was, as I mentioned previously, a poor imitation of The Matrix. The weapons themselves were pretty much ripped right out of Blade.

    As an action movie, Underworld is average at best. As a love story, it completely fails. With regards to the former, it met my expectations. Where the latter is concerned, I was quite disappointed.

    On the bright side, Laura got in free.