If Underworld is a box office hit, I hope that the folks who cut the trailers got paid extremely well. They have convinced many including myself that the film appears to be an absolute must-see. In reality, it couldn’t be any farther from the truth. Underworld is a disaster from the get-go.
The premise shows a lot of promise. There is a violent feud between vampires and the Lycans (werewolves). Selene (Kate Beckinsale), a vampire warrior devotes her life to hunting down the Lycans. Her motivation to this way of life is that consistent, tired cliché of having vengeance for the death of her parents. The Lycans are supposedly responsible. During a battle scene, she rescues a human doctor played by Scott Speedman (if you can believe that bit of casting) from the hands of the Lycans. She soon begins to unravel a secret plot that will affect both species.
The film is dependable production-wise. The special effects, set and costume designs are well done. I especially liked the werewolf morphing effect. It’s really cool stuff. The score is big and exciting. I was very impressed by how memorable it is. The soundtrack also rocked. But that is where the praises end.
The screenplay is a mess. The plot is epic but it contains every cliché in the book. There is never one moment in which something remotely original happens. The characters are thin and typical of the genre. The audience knows exactly where the film is going at all times. The dialogue is extremely bad and on many occasions very laughable. On one occasion a major character spews this classic, campy line: “Incompetence is most taxing.” The film is filled with gems like that and they are delivered with a deadpan sincerity. There are no laughs to be found but there are a slew of unintentional ones. The film takes its silly premise very seriously.
The performances are over the top and played very straight. They are all laughably bad. Scott Speedman is miscast in a pivotal role. He is an utter bore. Kate Beckinsale is the film’s only redeemable quality. She is a sexy action hero but also balances it out with a confident grace. You can’t keep your eyes off of her. Sadly the character contains all of the typical character arcs. Kate injects more life into the role than the material deserves. Like Angelina Jolie in Tomb Raider, she is wasted in a dull film. There is also a lazy attempt at a romance but the leads have zero chemistry.
First time director Len Wiseman doesn’t have the ability to make at least an entertaining action flick. There is no sense of fun to be found anywhere. While the film has some gore, the action scenes are extremely lame. The trailers literally contain the only good shots and even then we have seen this all before. I was utterly shocked in how unexciting it all was. Wiseman fails to generate any tension or thrills. They primarily consist of people shooting back at each other repeatedly. It’s all becomes very repetitive and one-note. The hand to hand battles are poorly done as well. There is an air of laziness when witnessing the battle sequences. I’ve seen straight to video fare with far more energy and inventiveness. The director doesn’t handle the film’s story any better. The pace drags on endlessly. I have never witnessed a film with such a cool premise and epic scale end up as such a dull affair. Mr. Wiseman easily wins the award for worst director of the year. This is Ballistic: Ecks vs. Sever kind of bad.
Underworld will go down as the biggest disappointment of 2003. In a year with so many good horror films, this film puts the final nail in the argument that bigger is better. I would rather shell out money to watch ten seconds of any scene from the Blade series than this atrocity. Underworld is a loud but an incredibly empty and dull ride.
That did you guys think of Underworld? Head on over to our Underworld review thread and tell everyone.
Thanks to the Toronto Film Festival.
DVD Review by : Mr. Disgusting
Before I give my thoughts on Sony’s Underworld DVD that hit video shelves last week, I want to give my quick opinion of the film itself, since I do not totally agree with our reviewer Mike’s review, which can be read above.
Personally, I don’t see why everyone despises this movie with such a passion. Don’t get be wrong, it isn’t a superb film, but it is quite enjoyable; I’d give the movie a 2 1/5 out of 5 Skull rating. I thought the acting was very well done, the special effects where incredible, even the wirework looked really good with the Werewolves. I also thought the storyline was well written, and I loved how they set up a sequel, which from the looks of things will be 50X better.
Although I thought it was fun, there were some problems. First, all of the guns, second, only one Vampire bite, third, since when do Vampires have heartbeats, and finally, the movie did feel “flat,” like something was missing. My two cents on this movie – this is a great rent especially if you have surround sound, read on to see why!
Usually the last thing anyone talks about when it comes to DVDs is the sound, since the extra features are usually the biggest bonus. Well, Ive never seen Underworld until I got the DVD, and the first thing I did was watch the flick. My first reaction was that the sound was spectacular and mixed phenomenally well! I think great sound enhances the experience, and I havent heard such a great mix since Top Gun and the The Exorcist: The Version Never Seen. But besides the sound, the video was crisp, clear and looked great, it almost felt like I was in the theater.
Heading into the special features, I took some time to admire the comic book like interactive menus, which were extremely cool. The first thing I did was watch the four “featurettes,” the first one was “The Making of Underworld.” It ran about 13 minutes long and looked like something you would have seen on HBO the week before release. It was pretty much a roundup of the cast and crew talking about their experiences on the set.
The feature that I really got into was the “Creature Effects,” which ran close to 12 minutes. It was awesome seeing how they put together the Werewolves. They built a robotic mask that goes over a humans head, and an entire body suit. The mask can make all sorts of movements from blinking to snarling; the lips even had movements of their own, it was unbelievable! They gave us a taste of the wirework and the production designs that they really could have spent more time on.
The “Stunts” featurette was also pretty neat, running in at about 11 minutes. They spent a lot of the time showing Kate Beckinsale prepping for battle and learning her stunts. They also showed her stunt double shooting the opening jump sequence, where she jumped over 100 feet!
The final featurette, “Sights and Sounds,” was really disappointing though, it was basically 8 minutes of footage from the set, without any talking or information.
After I watched the featurettes, I feasted my eyes upon the video by the band Finch, who by the way kicks major ass! It was definitely a nice addition to the DVD, its too bad there werent any other videos, because the soundtrack was loaded with amazing artists.
Another cool feature that could have been much better was the “Storyboard Comparisons.” They had five different segments that came in at only about a minute each, for a total of six minutes. With such cool stuff they could have supplied, I was very disappointed with the amount given. At least they loaded the DVD with TV Spots and trailer for Underworld and tons of other movies like Resident Evil: Apocalypse.
When it was all said and done I give the DVD a 3 out of 5 skull rating. Sony put together some great stuff and made a great quality flick, but it still came up short of expectations. I still recommend checking it out, or if you have the money, this would definitely be a nice addition to your horror collection.