This is what I call cinematic constipation. This flick has got so much built up and it never lets go even when it tries. Underworld should really be a great movieóor entertaining to say the very least. Itís got tons of characters, subplots and a paradox that should be intriguing, but ultimately falls flat. It doesnít once seem that this movie should be about vamps versus lycanthropes. It doesnít seem to matter if it was just humans against humans. This should be the quintessential Romeo & Juliet vs. the Vampires and Werewolves, but itís not. Itís not even Bonnie and Clyde (as the set-up for the sequel suggests at the end). What it is, is the creatorsí first attempt at a flick and itís all downhill from there.
First, they toy with the vamp and werewolf mythology to a point of total ridiculousness. They try to take the supernatural out of the mythos and give them guns so they can John Woo halfway through the plot. What does this say about vamps? You can jump off of tall-ass buildings because itís cool and fire 500 rounds a minute and canít hit shit when a horde of salivating puppies are coming at ya. The only time anyone gets hit by a mercury or UV bullet is when itís convenient for the plot, so someone can have a pretty little death assisted by CGI.
Believe it or not, this movie has a lot of plot. In fact, so much that it doesnít have time to settle on any one thing. The most important thing in the flick should be the relationship between Michael and Selene (Scott Speedman and Kate Beckinsale). But they arenít attracted to each other (let alone in love) to create the slightest bit of interest in this ďforbidden relationship.Ē Their attraction is based simply on: ďHeís a man. Sheís a woman.Ē Basically, Michael (the puppy) saves a vampire girl, Selene, from drowning; which is odd because I thought the vamps couldnít breathe, but whatever--and sheís so wet for him that she decides to save his life when heís in trouble. Michael spends most of the movie chained to a bed or a slab before Selene rescues him. Add to that all this extra stuff involving back-knifing subplots and characters that will be prevalent in the sequel. Much of the film is in flashbacks and trying to get the audience caught up on the state of affairs which take place in an unknown city in an unknown time. To accommodate all these unfortunate details, the movie runs over two hours.
Underworld wouldíve have been a brilliant TV show or even a longer movie. Regardless of the mis-leading TV trailers, there is no action in the movie. Just a lot of shooting to give the Dolby people something to masturbate to. Thereís no real gore. Everything is blue, blue, blue from start to finish. WARNING: Do not go to a daylight matinee. Your pupils will be dilated when stumbling for your car. Please allow 5 minutes of pupil adjustment before walking outside. This is one movie that should call for some nudity, but it ainít here.
Maybe Iím too hard on the flick. It does have good moments. But right after a good moment, all shit breaks loose. As soon as something interesting happens, the problem is solved. The hero or heroine should always be in peril until the end or else, where is the suspense? Where is the conflict that is supposed drive the story forward? If the character is not involved with the plot directly, than she/he is just surfing along until the end with nothing interesting happening along the way. My advice: Download the trailer from Entertheunderworld.com and watch all the cool and key points of the flick and youíve cut four hours of line-waiting and ticket-buying. Just wait for the DVD. Iím sure thereís gonna be a bunch of bonus stuff on there thatís far cooler than the flick.
Underworld (2 out of Four)
R, 2003, 121 min., Screen Gems/Sony Pictures.
Kate Beckinsale, Scott Speedman, Michael Sheen, Shane Brolly, Erwin Leder, Bill Nighy, Music by Paul Haslinger, Produced by Tom Rosenberg, Gary Lucchesi, Richard Wright, Written by Danny McBride and Directed by Len Wiseman.
Die, Die, My Darling:
Bubba Ho-Tep, Van Helsing, Bloody Mallory, Phantom Rider, Sundowner, Blade, Blade II, Blade III, The Crow, The Crow: City of Angels, The Crow: Salvation, The Crow 4, Buffy the Vampire Slayer, Ghostbusters, Ghostbusters II, Men In Black, Men In Black II, The Mummy, The Mummy Returns, Junk, Big Trouble In Little China, 2002 (Hong Kong), An American Werewolf in Paris, Kindred: The EmbracedÖ