Cast: Kate Beckinsale, Scott Speedman, Bill Nighy, Michael Sheen
Director: Len Wiseman
Genre: Action / Horror
Rated: M 15+
Running Time: 121 minutes
You know, Underworld really shouldn't be all that bad. A pretty cool concept (a war between Werewolf and Vampire clans), a promising young star in Kate Beckinsale and more high tech weaponry than a 007 flick, will always be enough to attract a respectable box office. Unfortunately, Underworld seems far too content to rest on its film making laurels, relying on the occasional flashy visual and thumping soundtrack to distract you from a story that never really makes a huge deal of sense.
Selene (Beckinsale) is a Death Dealer, a Vampire warrior sworn to hunt down and destroy the last remnants of the Lycans (or Werewolves, to you and I). Amidst a brutal war that has raged for centuries, the Lycan's sudden interest in the seemingly innocent Michael (Speedman), provokes Selene to question the true motives of the rival clans. When Michael is bitten by Lucian (Sheen), the head of the Lycan's, Selene becomes determined to unravel a conspiracy designed to create a creature more powerful than either clan could ever imagine ...
In his debut feature film director Len Wiseman seems happy enough to present a series of cliches in a movie which promised much more. Matrix style costume and lighting meet story elements snatched from Blade rather than legitimately making any attempt at originality. Characters are poorly introduced and developed, huge gaps in logic appear throughout the 121 minutes, and blurry CGI combined with over the top gunplay is used far too repetitively. Underworld does have some admittedly cool moments, but they're just too few and far between.
That said, already far outgrossing it's lowish budget of $23 million, an Underworld sequel and prequel have been given the green light to be made over the next few years. With any luck these subsequent films may be given some additional time dedicated to actually constructing a coherent plot, instead of simply impressive looking anti-monster artillery.
- Paul Jenner