Underworld (2004)

I’m honestly embarassed that I hadn’t seen this movie until now. I’m a huge fan of urban fantasy. I’ve read dozens of books and seen lots of movies and television series. When I was a kid, I always used to imagine something just beyond the veil. It was so close to our world that one wrong turn could put me in contact with something that goes bump in the night. Vampires and werewolves are probably the two biggest creepy crawlies around. Both deal with possibly losing one’s humanity to a beast inside. Of course, the movie doesn’t really deal with that aspect but that’s alright.

So how is the movie? Surprisingly good. I was expecting “Goth Matrix” but I got a far more subtle movie than I thought I would. I was expecting a popcorn flick and while I got one, it was not nearly as dumb as I thought it was. I don’t expect much from big budget movies between 1998 and 2005. This was a period where Godzilla (1998), The Matrix (1999) and Swordfish (2001) where blockbusters were enjoyable but not really substantive. I love all three of those movies but they were kind of half-assing it in the writing department. I would put Underworld on the angel side of good writing but it’s not too far from that line.

The movie is basically torn from the pages of White Wolf Publishing, a company that produces a lot of cool tabletop RPGs about werewolves, vampires, faeries and so on. There was even a lawsuit settled out of court by the makers of Underworld if you don’t believe me. There’s a war between vampires and werewolves that has gone on for centuries and supposedly werewolves are on the brink of extinction. Normally you would expect the hero to be a werewolf but we’re given vampire heroine Selene (Kate Beckinsale). She is tasked with figuring out a centuries old secret conspiracy that will change the war forever while she tries to protect her Dude in Distress. (By the way this was a refreshing reversal that was actually done right)

The acting was surprisingly good. I thought at first that Kate Beckinsale was wooden but I felt that she was instead reserved as you might expect an old vampire to be. There were moments where that resolve slipped and you could see splashes of raw emotion shine through. There were some good character actors throughout. Her Dude in Distress was not so great but served his purpose. However, Bill Nighy did an excellent job as an elder vampire and although he was corny in some places, he was very convincing in others. I also want to give a shout out to Michael Sheen and Shane Brolly who did a great job as the movie’s villains. Shane Brolly in particular was very easy to hate.

The art direction and cinematography was pretty awesome as the movie was very pretty but also very dark. It seemed to take place in what looked like eternal night or the same world that the first 5 minutes of XXX took place in. Len Wiseman directed this one and it seems he pretty much created the franchise. It makes sense that it would be pretty good as he is responsible for the Sleepy Hollow tv show and the underrated fourth Die Hard movie. I kind of wish he had toned down some of the exposition but, as a world-building fan, I have to respect what he created. I don’t think I’ll be watching the prequel anytime soon though. I feel like I’ve already seen it from the stories the characters told.

Overall, it was a pretty good movie. I would suggest seeing it.

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2 Responses to “Underworld (2004)”

  1. Liz Brownlee Says:

    Have to catch this one… i’m not a great movie-goer, but it does sound good…~Liz http://www.lizbrownleepoet.com


  2. David M. Brown Says:

    I haven’t seen this one. May have to check it out after hearing your thoughts.

    Thank you for sharing and good luck with the rest of the challenge :)


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