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Starring Kate Beckinsale, Scott Speedman
Screenplay by Danny McBride
Story by Kevin Grevioux and Len Wiseman & Danny McBride
Directed by Len Wiseman

IN SHORT: Be sure to bring a sixteen year old . . .. [Rated R for strong violence/gore and some language. 120 minutes]

. . . you'll need one to explain all the socio-political background details in the centuries old war between Vampires and Werewolves (aka Lycans) that concludes in the bloody battles shown in Underworld. Falling into our "looks great ... must've been created by an ex-art director" category is a very stylish film with a great special effect topping off the third act. It's obvious that a lot of thought went into the historical background of who and what the beings you see in this story are and why they behave as they do. The problem is, when it comes time to get that reasoning across to the audience, Underworld does so poorly. This is a film that, and we've seen it before, will do killer business on video as all the teenboys pick it apart bit by bit. We know how we were at sixteen. We would've done the same thing.

Underworld avoids all religious cliches and mucks around just a wee bit with the traditional rules and boundaries for the behavior of the supernatural creatures that inhabit it. In this world, the presence of bloodsuckers and flesheaters dates back a mere 1400 years and is attributed to some kind of virus. One group was made subservient to the other, and both have been at war with each other for the last 600 years, minimum. In that time, the werewolves have developed the ability to change form at will. Vampires are still allergic to sunlight. Both have developed bullets that can kill the other -- don't ask about it. The explanation actually works -- but why the vampires have gained the upper hand is a question you can discuss on the way out. Underworld introduces us to a subclass of Vampires, the werewolf hunting "Death Dealers" of whom Kraven (Shane Brolly) is lord and master and the very attractive Selene (Kate Beckinsale) is the focus of this story.

During the hunt that opens Underworld, a human named Michael Corvin (Scott Speedman) gets caught in the middle. Strangely enough, he doesn't totally lose it when this "reality" is revealed and he takes it in stride as Selene becomes his protector. He's got a greater role to play which we won't spill.

What is more important to Selene is that one of the werewolves she battled bore a striking resemblance to the long deceased master of the wolves, Lucian (Michael Sheen). Not trusting the word of Kraven, who allegedly killed Lucian 600 years earlier in a battle which is still looked upon with awe, Selene raises the dead...

Sorry... it's too good a pun not to use. She raises an Elder Lord vampire named Viktor (Bill Nighy), who is none too pleased about the early awakening but who has all the answers as all kinds of plots and betrayals and stuff are revealed. This is about where Underground has gone wrong. The writers establish all sorts of events which are supposed to happen in this world and then fail to explain what they mean to us ticket paying dweebs. Buried in the mix is something called an Ascension which some like minded 16 year old will figure out and explain to his elders. There's also a bit of vampire jealousy involving a hot blonde bloodsucker called Erika (Sophia Myles) and some political stuff involving who will be the Vampire Queen but it's all dumped on the trash heap as the real story surprise is dumped on you towards the end.

The film's design and effects and costuming are all top notch. Just the kind of work that would have carried a younger Cranky back into the theater for a second view to comprehend the deeper meanings of a script which needs one more pass through the word processor to tighten things up.

On average, a first run movie ticket will run you Ten Bucks. Were Cranky able to set his own price to Underworld, he would have paid . . .


Much higher for the teenboys who live and breathe this material. Take a date.

amazon com link Click to buy films by Len Wiseman
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The Cranky Critic® is a Registered Trademark of, and his website is  Copyright © 1995-2009 by, Chuck Schwartz. Articles by Paul Fischer Copyright © 1999 - 2006 Paul Fischer. All images, unless otherwise noted, are property of,©, ®, T their respective studios and are used by permission. All Rights Reserved. Not to be used or copied for any commercial purpose. Academy AwardT(s) and Oscar®(s) are registered trademarks and service marks of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences.

The Cranky Critic website is Copyright © 1995  -  2017  by Chuck Schwartz. Articles by Paul Fischer are Copyright © 1999 - 2006 Paul Fischer. All images, unless otherwise noted, are property of,©, ®, their respective studios and are used by permission. All Rights Reserved. Not to be used or copied for any commercial purpose. Academy Award(s) and Oscar®(s) are registered trademarks and service marks of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences.