Starring Kate Beckinsale, Scott Speedman, Shane Brolly, Michael
Sheen, Bill Nighy, Erwin Leder and Sophia Myles
Directed by Len Wiseman
I remember this past Monday watching Kate Beckinsale on THE LATE, LATE SHOW
WITH CRAIG KILBORN. She was looking absolutely radiant. Her skin was
glistening, and her come hither glances were enough to make me fall out of my
chair. Kate looked like a delicious popsicle that I just wanted to... well
let's just say she looked really good. After seeing that, I was really
hoping that her new movie UNDERWORLD would be as satisfying. But alas,
it was not.
with a leather-clad woman named Selene (Beckinsale) crouching on the edge of a
building in some unnamed European-looking city. She narrates that her job is
to hunt Lycans, or Werewolves, and that the resulting war may be coming to an
end. Selene is one of many Vampires, who live quietly within the city, unless
of course their safety is threatened. The Werewolves are led by a man named
Lucian (Sheen), and though the Vampires have some fancy ways of disposing of
his race, the Lycans may also have a few tricks up their sleeves. Selene
realizes that they're hunting a man named Michael Corvin (Speedman), although
their reasons are not yet known. Her superior Kraven (Brolly) does not approve
of her careless actions, and wants nothing more than for her to serve silently
at his side. While she does not approve of his wishes, another Vampire named
Erika (Myles) would like nothing more that to share Kraven's bed. Apparently
he was the one left in charge when the former leader Viktor (Nighy) went into
hibernation. Things get hectic when Corvin is bitten by Lucian, and Selene
brings him back to the Vampire house. Her fascination with him has become
somewhat romantic, and though he could be a severe risk to her people, she
cannot bear to just let him go. Other situations cause Selene to become
suspicious of those around her, and it isn't long before she decides to wake
Viktor looking for answers. However Selene may not like what she finds.
UNDERWORLD goes out of
it's way to be dark, gothic and moody. The sets are dreary, the costumes are
primarily black and composed of mostly leather. While the settings and people
are appropriately scary, the script is just plain dull. The film was pitched
as a Romeo and Juliet between Vampires and Werewolves. Unfortunately the
romance aspect of the film is so underplayed that the two main characters just
seem reluctantly stuck with one another. Everyone in this film just seems
boring. The fight scenes have no life to them either. Even something as simple
as gun battles is nothing more than people standing around shooting at each
other. The action sequences are severely lacking in action. The trailers
showed slick jumping and fighting, but unfortunately that's just about all the
slick jumping and fighting that was filmed. Considering the plot, there is not
a whole lot of excitement save for a few key scenes. Poor Kate Beckinsale
just isn't convincing as the tough Vampire girl. Her diminutive stature
doesn't help her performance much either.
Scott Speedman has about as
much screen presence as a bag of flour. The chemistry between these two is
non-existent, which ultimately kills this already weak film. Shane Brolly and
Bill Nighy are the only ones that really try with their acting, but it's not
enough to save the lack of performances around them. I realize this is
supposed to be a dark film, but for God's sake it would be nice if I could at
least see what was going on half the time! Oh, and let's talk about effects.
The werewolves look like something out of AMERICAN WEREWOLF IN LONDON
for crying out loud! With the advances in digital effects it's hard to believe
they couldn't come up with some more impressive shots for the Lycan scenes.
Director Len Wiseman (who also co-wrote the film) has failed to impress with
this first time effort, though I guess he got what he wanted out of it, since
he's now engaged to Kate Beckinsale. We on the other hand come away with
nothing. Hard to comprehend something that looked so good could be so bad.
SONY PICTURES 2003.
BIGFANBOY.com score - On a scale of
1 to 10, 10 being the best, I give UNDERWORLD a generous 3.
See our FILM REVIEW ARCHIVE
TAKE ME HOME