Underworld
2 out of 5 stars
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Loud and relentless, this vampires-vs-werewolves thriller at least never bores us for a second. Sure, it's sometimes laughably stupid, but for fans of the genre it's also great fun. In a grey Euro-city, creatures of the night fight like cats and dogs (literally) after dark. The sleek, sophisticated Vampires swoop down from the sky, while the tenacious, scrappy Lycans prowl below. Both are armed to the teeth, sparking outlandish shootouts and chases through the streets and tunnels. One night Vampire warrior Seline (Beckinsale) rescues a human (Speedman) being pursued by werewolves for some strange reason known only to their leader Lucian (Sheen). As she digs into the mystery, her leader Kraven (Brolly) gets more than a little upset ... especially when she resurrects the vampire elder Viktor (Nighy) a hundred years too early.

This is action mayhem on a grand scale, with huge amounts of gunplay, outlandish chase sequences and gigantic battles. There's also, of course, lots of moody production design and clever special effects work, most notably the werewolf transformations, which owe a lot to An American Werewolf in London, with a more-rubbery final result. The film looks fantastic, in a dark and shadowy sort of way, with clever touches in both the Vampire mansion and the Lycan den. But the overuse of Matrix-style stunts, bullet storms and slo-mo action is becoming boring now (someone please think of something new!). The characters are fairly simple stereotypes, but at least they're interesting and well-played in a slightly hammy sort of way. Sheen is the standout with easily the most intriguing role; and who knew Nighy could make such a great uber-vamp? The plot is smartly conceived to make the immortal creatures more scientific and less mythical, while its twists and turns are clever and exciting. Sure, it gets very silly and somewhat tedious in its ceaseless gonzo chaos and arch villainy, but for what it is, it isn't half bad at all!

cert 15 themes, language, violence, gore 15.Sep.03

dir Len Wiseman
scr Danny McBride
with Kate Beckinsale, Scott Speedman, Michael Sheen, Shane Brolly, Bill Nighy, Sophia Myles, Erwin Leder, Robby Gee, Scott McElroy, Richard Cetrone, Kevin Grevioux, Danny McBride
release US/UK 19.Sep.03
Screen Gems
03/US-UK 2h01

Creature of the night: Beckinsale waits to pounce.

speedman sheen nighy

See also: UNDERWORLD EVOLUTION (2006)

R E A D E R   R E V I E W S
send your review to Shadows... underworld Morgan, Arizona: 5/5 "The movie is wonderful. After I saw it I ran out and got the extended version and I have watched it countless times says. It is not a love story like most would argue, in fact there is no love in it at all - only a very awkward relationship. The wonderful use of color is ridiculous and the use of the dark reds is beautiful. The city looks wonderful and the vampires are very frightening. The idea of the film brings a realistic spin to the whole idea of vampires and werewolves and also gives the viewers a more intellectual spin at the end. You really get the best of all worlds in this movie, and the characters are wonderful, namely Lucian, Selene and Kraven." (5.Nov.04)
2003 by Rich Cline, Shadows on the Wall

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