Vampires and werewolves are undoubtedly the two most common creatures from the horror genre, and so it seems fitting that these two archetypes should eventually meet up on the big screen. That is exactly what happens in “Underworld,” only they don’t just meet…they wage war. Even more, this war has supposedly been raging on for hundreds of years beneath our civilization.
The film succeeds most often in the visual department due to some amazing special effects, action sequences and environments, and the plot of “Underworld” is surprisingly detailed and fleshed out. The relentless, bullet-ridden action comes in sporadic spurts, but it momentarily takes a backseat in the second half of the movie, giving room for some intriguing storytelling about the reason for the vampire/werewolf feud, as well as the intentions for the future of these two races.
The plot centers around Selene (Kate Beckinsale), a vampire “death dealer” who has been helping her coven fight their beastly rivals for years. In the film’s opening sequence, Selene notices that the werewolves, or lycans as the film usually refers to them, are trailing a human (Scott Speedman) through a subway station. The vampire vixen’s curiosity about this man soon leads to her trying to save him from a treacherous plot by the lycans, while at the same time finding herself entering a forbidden romance with the prospective werewolf.
The growing relationship between Beckinsale and Speedman is essential to the story, but it was curiously more assumed than shown. There is nothing in the movie to prove that the two have more than just a crush on one another, while the film seems to want the audience to believe that a “Romeo and Juliet”-like passion of star-crossed lovers is being portrayed.
“Underworld” is primarily an action thriller. There are horror elements present, but the film never really attempts to be a horror movie. Most of the action comes via gun battles, with ammunition that is even cooler than the guns themselves. Unfortunately, as is the case with a lot of movies, most of the action is glimpsed in the trailer.
I am a huge fan of vampire movies, and so I found the idea of “Underworld” to be very appealing. The pace seemed to plod a little at times when the action took a break, but when I sat back and took in all of the storyline that the movie lays out for the audience, I realized that what “Underworld” sometimes lacks in energy, it makes up for with a much more developed plot than you would probably expect to find in a movie like this. The movie ends with an obvious hint that the filmmakers are planning on a sequel or series of films in the future.
3 out of 4 rams