Underworld (2003) (mini-review++)

(If you’re curious, my review process. It’s also pasted at the end of this post. I don’t believe in Rotten Tomatoes. I just believe in me.)

(***all-purpose SPOILER ALERT*** there may be some in this review)

acting 4

directing 3

effects 5

editing 4

writing 3

SW SCORE: 19

1.5 out of 5 🐙

++

The premise is gold. Vampires versus Werewolves. Two ancient monster clans duking it out. Underworld joins the battle as the Wolves are on the ropes. The plot is simple. The aristocratic Vampires have hunted the heavy metal Wolves to near extinction. But the furry fiends have hatched a plan to change the monster world dramatically.

What’s right with the ‘World? Kate Beckinsale in leather. The prospect of out and out fights between vampires and werewolves. The reasonable 30 million dollar budget. . The movie has a dark, depressing look. All the action takes place at night. As it should since filming vampires sleeping in coffins during the day would not be thrilling. Beckinsale’s no-nonsense performance is acceptable. Len Wiseman’s direction is at least consistent. Consistently derivative.

Now, what’s wrong with the ‘World?

(1) It’s a rip. The costumes are Matrix rip-offs. The stop-motion action scenes are Matrix rip-offs. The colors are muted just like in…are you getting the picture? It’s one thing to be accidentally derivative. But it’s another to blatantly steal an entire style. The producers of Underworld are currently being sued for copyright infringement by a gaming company that claims over 60 similarities between the film and their product. The filmmakers better not let the judge view the film because he would have to find for the plaintiffs immediately.

(2) Beckinsale and her supposed love interest, Scott Speedman, have no chemistry. None. Zero. Their first kiss is awkward and surprising. Probably because no one other than the actors and the director could possibly know they were interested in each other. It’s as if the director ordered a love interest at the last second and they ran out of film or the screenwriters were on vacation.

(3) The werewolves. Too big. Hairless. Slow. They looked like fucking bears. Werewolves have a certain defining characteristic: FUCKING HAIR. They are HAIRY. Not in need of minoxidil! Secondly, they are supposed to be fast and agile. Like WOLVES. Instead, they all of a sudden have a gait more reminiscent of a wounded bulldog. Oh, and they can suddenly walk on walls like Spiderman. What the fuck? To paraphrase the Comic Book
Guy on The Simpsons: Worst Werewolves Ever.

(4) The fights. As in the crappy Phantom Menace, it seems that Hollywood in the early aughts decided that every fantasy element in movies needs to be explained by some
bullshit scientific explanations. The force wasn’t some mystical gift. It was because little whiny Anakin had some bullshit magical cholesterol count in his bloodstream. Now, Werewolves and Vampires don’t need to rely on their superhuman agility and raw bloodlust to kill each other. Now they have special bullets. So what could be an amazing on-screen fight between two legendary monster acrobats has transformed into a standard shoot out. If I wanted to see that, I could have rented Cradle 2 The Grave.

(5) A ridiculous amount of double crosses. It got to the point that I didn’t care who was on whose side anymore as long as the movie ended.

(6) The dialogue is loaded with exposition. Every other line seems to be an explanation. And the story is convoluted. It’s not easy to follow and it’s not shouldn’t be. It’s an action movie. 

If you love Vampires and Werewolves, you will be mildly entertained by this movie. But if you really love Vampires and Werewolves AND ORIGINALITY, you will be more than mildly disgusted.

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(1) Shark Wrighter (SW) Score: Based on a sum of 5 sub-scores (acting, directing, writing/story, effects: cinematography &/or animation &/or effects, editing) with 1 being terrible and 10 being terrific.

(2) Octopuses (0-5 🐙, with 5 being fantastic and 0 being feces)

(3) Octopuses are my unquantifiable feeling…not that SW score is scientific…but this one is even less so

(4) ++ This optional section includes any incredibly *brilliant observations that don’t fit into simple quantitative slices like the scores and octopuses *(they are likely NOT brilliant)

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