Babes and badasses: Underworld (2003) Review
According to Roger Ebert: "This is a movie so paltry in its characters and shallow in its story that the war seems to exist primarily to provide graphic visuals."
Film critic Roger Ebert. He could star in the sequel to Zero Wing.
If you consider director Len Wiseman's commentary on the bonus features of the DVD, this is exactly what they had in mind. Wiseman, who also co-wrote Underworld with Kevin Grevioux and Danny McBride, wanted to create a film that resembled an action-packed graphic novel. The war does intentionally exist primarily to provide graphic visuals.
Paltry in its characters? Well, the characters are already werewolves and vampires. They are already half-man, half-beast. How can you possibly have any of them go through a catharsis that compares to turning into a beast? There's nothing paltry about being undead, unless of course you find survival paltry.
Shallow in its story? It took three writers to write this script. The story is so complex that there were lawsuits with no clear outcome over the exact origins of the story. Again, it's an action film about vampires and werewolves.
Plus there are babes in tight pvc. Babes in tight pvc, badasses who can turn into vampires or werewolves with badass guns. Paltry my ass.
Selene (Beckinsale) is a vampire and a death dealer. Death dealers hunt werewolves, or lycans. She and her partner follow some werewolves into a subway. They manage to kill most of the werewolves, but they realise something is awry.
Werewolves usually hunt humans for food. These werewolves seemed to want a particular human alive. This human, Michael Corvin (Speedman), gets kidnapped by Selene after a werewolf bit him. She takes him back to the the vampire mansion just in time for an entree of cucumber sandwiches and a Cabernet Sanguino.
Michael meets the fetching (very fetching) Erika (Sophia Myles) and escapes. The vampires are upset that Selene brought a werewolf into their mansion. Bloody peasants. The people are revolting, etc.
Selene gets banished for mixing with the peasants (bloody peasants) and uncovers a secret plot. The werewolves are trying to create a vampire-lycan hybrid to use as a secret weapon in their fight against the vampires. But they had some inside help...
Let's see, we have:
- babes in pvc
- badasses with badass guns
- a vampire-lycan hybrid
It would be very difficult to ruin this combination. One guaranteed way would be to introduce the soft and sensitive side of one of the characters ala Spiderman 3. Now now, there'll be none of that.
Some great touches are that all the werewolves seem to have facial hair, while the vampires don't. All the vampires speak in posh English accents. I was waiting for one of them to say: "Fetch me some orange shurburt!".
The only downside to me is the performance of Scott Speedman. Yes, it is necessary to have a geeky, whimpy Peter Parker lookalike. It is not necessary to be a Men's Health model. I can see why they cast him in the role of Michael Corvin, but when his character turns badass it's not nearly convincing enough.
By contrast, Shane Brolly is superbly cast as the worm-like Kraven. Roger Ebert is correct, this film is entirely comprised of paltry characters in a shallow story that exist merely for great graphic visuals, but it is not a bad thing at all. It is well-written, well-presented and you get to see fetching babes in pvc.
Kate Beckinsale. In tight pvc. Somebody call me a doctor.
Sophia Myles. Fetching, very fetching.
Kevin Grevioux. This guy is just seriously badass. He also co-wrote Underworld.
Michael Sheen. Hands down, paws down the best actor in the Underworld series.
Kate Beckinsale, Kevin Grevioux, Sophia Myles, Michael Sheen, Scott Speedman.