Reviewed by: Chris Monroe
Starring: Kate Beckinsale, Scott Speedman, Bill Nighy, Michael Sheen, Shane Brolly | Directed by: Len Wiseman | Produced by: Gary Lucchesi, Tom Rosenberg, Richard S. Wright | Written by: Danny McBride II, Kevin Grevioux, Danny McBride | Distributor: Screen Gems (Sony)
What happens when you mix vampires and werewolves? Can the conflict be good versus evil? Is it evil versus evil? And if two wrongs don’t make a right, can two evils make a good? The outcome of this vampire-werewolf recipe is explored in more ways than one in the sci-fi action film “Underworld”.
Directing his first feature film, Len Wiseman has set “Underworld” in a dark, non-descript European city and fantasizes an antiquated conflict of vampires and werewolves. The battle employs gun shoot-outs, martial arts, fighting with medieval weapons and flesh biting. From beginning to end, the movie is drenched in blood.
Strong, sleek, vampire Selene (Kate Beckinsale) finds out their archenemies, the “Lycan” (werewolves) are hunting a human. Against her leader’s wishes Selene continues to investigate and discovers why. In the process, Selene inadvertently “falls” for the human, Michael (Scott Speedman), who is bitten by a Lycan and will soon transform into a werewolf. Selene continues to assist Michael, claiming it is only to help the vampires, but their relationship provides not only a love story, but the beginning of a new breed of monster.
The focus and attention paid to blood in this movie and the creation of a new kind of man provides some allusions to Christ. In Ephesians 2:13-15, Paul explains that we have been brought near to God by the blood of Christ. Furthermore, Christ “is our peace, who has made the two one and has destroyed the barrier, the dividing wall of hostility, by abolishing in his flesh the law with its commandments and regulations. His purpose was to create one new man out of the two, thus making peace.” These connections don’t seem to be intended, but provoke some thought to things more joyful and hopeful.
The film is very reminiscent of recent blockbuster films such as “The Lord of the Rings” with the introductory female voice-over narration, and “The Matrix” with the lead woman in sleek, black leather fighting her enemy and finding and falling in love with the “one.” The less interesting, slow beginning of the film brings more focus to some overdone performances and the struggle some actors seemed to have with their fake vampire teeth. However, the story does provide some interesting twists and turns throughout and develops its legend, like “Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon” does for martial art films.
The blood and gore can really turn the audience off to this kind of film. Overall, it is a dark and heavy film that seems, at times, to take itself too seriously. Most of the humor at our audience was the shock people had by the outrageous violence.
Violence: Extreme | Profanity: Heavy | Sex/Nudity: MinorYear of Release—2003