Review: Underworld

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Friday night I went immediately after work to see Underworld, the new hyper-stylized Matrix-wannabe film.

Don’t worry, I knew exactly what I was going into.

See, I liked The Matrix. I liked Bram Stoker’s Dracula. I liked that both had their own interesting visual styles and artistic approaches. So when I saw the previews for Underworld, I was all over it. I mean, how can you pass up something like that? Two great tastes that go great together.

The story is about Selene (played by the almost ridiculously hot Kate Beckinsale), a vampire “death dealer.” She and a group of other gun-toting vampires spearhead the vampire side of the vampire/werewolf battle. (See, they have silver nitrate-filled bullets that they shoot the werewolves with, right? And the werewolves have UV irradiated liquid filled bullets that they shoot the vampires with. That’s how they rationalize the guns. Just accept it and move on.) While Selene is out hunting one day, she sees that the werewolves (or “lycans,” as they are called in the film) are taking a special interest in this particular human. Turns out the human has a special quality to his blood that lets him become both a vampire and a werewolf, and stronger than both. The werewolves think this is great; the vampires, not so much. Battle ensues. Asses get kicked. Much shooting. All becomes well with the world.

In all honesty, I wasn’t disappointed. They did a great job of bringing the whole vampire/werewolf mythos into a contemporary Matrix-esque setting. The visual style was keen, the guns were cool, the chicks were hot. What more could you ask?

Well, there were a few issues I had that would have made the movie just a little better.

First, the visual style, while keen, was a little overdone. Ever notice how everything in The Matrix has a sort of greenish tinge to it? Everything in Underworld was done in twilight blue. There really wasn’t much in the way of color or light, which made it hard to see what was going on at times. Cool? Yes. Hard to see? Also, yes. I mean, blood runs black in twilight. That’s great and all, but it sort of lacks some of the power of seeing the red of blood in battle. Maybe laying off the camera filters just a little would have been helpful.

Second, the guns. I thought it was a really, really cool idea to have fully automatic pistols. Portable death in quantities. I like that. But, you know, pistol clips only hold like 9 or 14 rounds in them. And with these huge .50 caliber bullets (or what looked like something that large, since you have to have a huge bullet to hold all the liquid you’re shooting), you’re only going to get 9 in there. Which means if you hold down the trigger on your fully automatic pistol, you’ve got about a second worth of shooting in it, then you’ve got to reload. Where was the reloading? You can’t take out an army on two clips. They reloaded sometimes, but not nearly enough.

Third, the love interest. Selene gets this vampire/werewolf/human guy and runs him all over town trying to save him (over the course of a couple of days) and somehow, without really having any conversation with the guy, falls in love with him. No, no, no. If Kate Beckinsale drug my ass around town for two days and all I ever did was cause her trouble, she’d only end up hating me. Not so in this movie. I didn’t buy that part.

Finally, the chicks. I won’t see eye-to-eye with some of you on this one, but the folks in my camp will know what I’m saying here. If you’re going to stick Kate Beckinsale in latex (or leather or whatever), and you’re going to parade around a bunch of vampire women in ultra-tight corset-style tops and so on and so forth, and you’re going to the trouble of putting in the obligatory love interest, and you’re going to get your movie rated R for violence and language, then you’d best go all the way and show me some tits. Seriously. Where were the boobs in this film? This is worse than a Washington strip club. Don’t start the launch sequence if you’re not going to fire the missile. Here’s hoping that stuff shows up in the deleted scenes or the director’s cut or something on DVD.

Long story short, I liked this and I’d say it’d be good for a matinee or a rental, but don’t pay full price unless you’re really into the vampire/werewolf thing.