Underworld (2003)

Vinyl Vampire Vixens
Film review by: Witney Seibold

Underworld 2003
When you’re a 10-to-15-year-old nerd (like I was), a lot of your conversations begin with “who would win in a fight?” You then begin insane pairings like Indiana Jones vs. James Bond, Capt. Kirk vs. Han Solo, Shaft vs. Batman, a zombie vs. The Boogeyman, Brisco County, Jr. vs. Nicodemus Legend (o.k., maybe that last one was just me). And, of course, a vampire vs. a werewolf. With “Freddy vs. Jason” in the bag, we now have Len Wiseman’s film “Underworld,” a gloomy adolescent fantasy that pits vampire against werewolf (called “lycans”) in an ancient feud on the streets of (possibly) Budapest.

The comely Kate Beckinsale plays Selene, a vinyl-clad vampire on the front lines of most battles against werewolf clans; in this universe, vampires and werewolves have been at odds for centuries. Her outfit could have been bought at a fetishware outlet, but that’s just a digression. Selene discovers that the presumed-dead werewolf leader Kraven (Shane Brolly) is not only alive, but has taken an unnatural interest in a certain human (Scott Speedman). It seems that the werewolves are trying to use him in some sort of werewolf breeding experiment. Selene manages to track him down, and falls for him for some reason. There are lots of fights, and a lot of biting (I like that the film points out how unsanitary all this monster biting is). Also involved are jealous vampire lovers, the resurrection of an ancient vampire leader (Bill Nighy), and guns that can shoot bullets made of sunlight. You read that right. Also, Kate Beckinsale wears a vinyl catsuit throughout. I must mention that again.

I am wary of bringing politics into a film review, but I have to mention that I was on the side of the werewolves. Vampires are often seen as bored rich folk, laying about in taffeta gowns, as if they’re at one of Oscar Wilde’s parties, but zonked on valium. Werewolves live in conditions that make the basement in “Fight Club” look like health spa. So I root for the underdogs (underwolves?). This film, while dark and murky, and quite violent, was perfectly effective in tapping the little-boy comic-book fantasies of the teenage audience (indeed, when the vampire-werewolf being appears, it look more than a little bit like Nightcrawler from “X-Men 2”). And, it’s better than I though it would be. It actually has a certain level of panache and style that make it feel like more than, well, the goofy monster flick it is. Since the audience for the film is limited pretty much to teenage boys, the film will be perfect for them.

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Published in: on August 10, 2009 at 2:51 pm  Comments (1)  

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  1. 2 little corrections for ya article.. the werewolf leader’s name is Lucian.. Kraven was part of the vampire clan consorting with Lucian. Not to fault what would seem no doubt a flawless commentary on your part.. 🙂


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