14 of 15 people found the following review helpful
This review is from: Underworld (Special Edition) [DVD] (DVD)
Directed by Len Wiseman, starring Kate Beckinsdale and Scott Speedman and largely filmed in Budapest, "Underworld" hit the big screen in 2003. It's a very stylish `monster' movie, though - a little unusually - humans are neither the heroes nor the victims. (The film doesn't stop for 'lunch').
Beckinsdale plays Selene, our 'heroine' and the 'good' vampire. She's a Death Dealer - a vampire soldier - in a war against werewolves that has lasted for around a thousand years. As time has passed, the weapons used by both races have been updated - there are no stakes or crossbows in sight, while the traditional silver bullet has been modified. The current battles are being waged with throwing stars, guns and grenades - all enhanced to target the specific weaknesses of the intended victim. However, tradition hasn't been entirely sacrificed - vampires are still stylish and pale, while the vampire clan still lives in an old-fashioned, classy mansion. (Like the weapons, however, it does incorporate some 'modern' aspects). Selene very much looks to Viktor for guidance - Viktor is one of the vampires' three elders and something of a father figure to Selene. However, as the film opens, he is in hibernation and the day-to-day running of the vampires' affairs are in Kraven's hands. Kraven, somewhat power-hungry, also has designs on Selene - however, she ins't even remotely interested - she regularly disobeys his instructions and doesn't believe a great deal of what he has to say.
Werewolves have officially been on the defensive for around 600 years, since Kraven killed their greatest leader, Lucien. However, they have never been fully defeated and, from early in the film, it seems the vampires have been lulled into a false sense of security. As well as the updated weapons, werewolves - or lycans, as they're known throughout the film - can now transform at will and no longer have to wait on the full moon. They appear to be in full control of their actions and can also heal more quickly while in wolf form. Where the vampires are pale and stylish, the werewolves are more animal-like and live underground. However, this hasn't stopped them performing 'medical research', with a particular interest in a family called Corvin. As the film opens, a couple of werewolves are stalking Speedman's character, a doctor called Michael Corvin. Selene, who's been on patrol and sees what's happening, is puzzled by this - it's clear the werewolves aren't just hunting for food. Her interest develops much further as the film progresses to the point of romance. This brings her a great deal of trouble when it becomes apparent the werewolves have 'turned' Michael. (It's also brought the comparisons with 'Romeo and Juliet' - a romance between two warring houses). As a result of the romance, she learns a great deal more about the origins of war and the night she was sired by Viktor.
This is a very enjoyable and stylish film, with some very impressive special effects. Although technically, I suppose, it's a 'supernatural' movie, there's a strong thriller element to it, with plenty of gunfights, political intruige, treachery, twists and turns...and if that's not enough, it's also got Kate Beckinsdale !! Absolutely recommended for those who love vampire movies. However, despite the comparisons with 'Romeo and Juliet', I can't really see it convincing your Shakespeare-loving aunt to start watching the Hammer films.