Wednesday, 26 September 2012

Film Review: Underworld

Title: Underworld
Release Date: 19th September 2003
Rating: 15
Principal Cast: Kate Beckinsale, Scott Speedman, Bill Nighy, Michael Sheen and Shane Brolly.

  The main theme through Underworld is a brutal war between the Vampires and the Lycans (Werewolves - derived from 'Lycanthropy') and so due to this it is incredibly gory and violent.

  The film contains nearly every cliche in the book with regards to both species, weakness to silver, burning in  sunlight, the need to drink blood and turning at the time of the full moon.  Of course, it wouldn't be considered a true vampire movie without those cliches and to be fair, the film treats them as normal.

  As always in the media, the vampires are portrayed as beautiful and aristocratic while the lycans are instead portrayed as rough and lower-class.  Again, that's expected so all it does is provide a class divide as well as a species divide.

 Set in Budapest, Underworld boasts some gorgeous Gothic architecture and this helps to set the tone of the film although it does raise the question of why the majority of the characters have distinct British accents. (They run from Cockney all the way to RP)  But this really isn't a problem, I'm just mentioning it because there needs to be some negativity in this review.

 Onto the plot: Now I can't say much without giving away some key spoilers but the bare bones of this film are as follows.  Vampire warrior Selene (Kate Beckinsale) uncovers some nasty truths about her sire Viktor (Bill Nighy) while trying to help human doctor Michael (Scott Speedman) who is part of this war whether he likes it or not.  Now that's more of a plot than most films with a supernatural war and there is at least a background to the entire history of both species that sets this particular film apart from others like it.

 It's such an overdone plot and although there are some moments where you'll think 'wow, I wasn't expecting that.' For the majority of the film you'll be able to guess exactly what will happen but that doesn't mean it's not enjoyable.  The execution is what makes this film as good as it is and the acting from Beckinsale and Speedman definitely gives it an edge over most horror-action flicks.  The characters feel real and you will genuinely come to care for them as their pasts are revealed, Selene and Lucian (Michael Sheen) in particular because of the loss they have both suffered.

 Because of the subject matter and the general feeling of doom and gloom in the film, there aren't any intentionally funny moments but nearly every scene with Selene and Kraven (Shane Brolly) has an undercurrent of sarcasm which Beckinsale pulls off without much effort and will draw a few chuckles.

All in all, Underworld is dark, gloomy and very gory but, with a intricate backstory, a conspiracy plot and the romance sub-plot, it really can appeal to a wide audience.


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