Underworld

2003

Starring: Kate Beckinsale, Scott Speedman, Michael Sheen, Shane Brolly, Bill Nighy

For ages Iíve been waiting to see a film as good as its trailer. Itís finally here. And this, well before some highly anticipated franchises release their wares (LOTR: The Return of the King, Matrix: Revolutions, etc.).

Virtually unbeknownst to humankind, a centuries-old blood feud has been waging just out of sight between the aristocratic Vampires and the less-sophisticated, underground-dwelling Lycans/Werewolves, for reasons known by a pitiful few. Vampire Selene (Beckinsale), a proficient soldier-type called a Death Dealer, stalks a human (Speedman) after witnessing unusual Lycan behavior surrounding him. Selene suspects that the long-dead Lycan leader may not be long-dead, and there is a web of lies, deceit & treachery infesting the Vampire house.

Director Len Wiseman looks to spin the tale of Werewolves and Vampires in a somewhat different light/darkness. Vampires represent a supernatural upper class, dressing in an array of black leather, black plastic, expensive fashions and the like. Werewolves/Lycans are clearly the lower class, sporting more a 90ís Seattle grunge look, as opposed to the Matrix/Blade/Batman goth of the Vampires. Vampires symbolize an immortal beauty with old money, fast cars, and a vast network of power (spanning at least two continents). Lycans/Werewolves, on the other hand, tend to represent the working class, as former servants of their enemies. (At some point you find yourself rooting for them. The subway shootout is one. When they change/morph into werewolves, all the automatic weapons in the Vampiresí arsenal arenít worth a lick).

In one sense it has a comic-book-turned-action-movie feel like the Wachowski Brothers trilogy, and then itís something else. Far from any B-movie horror/slasher, it appeals to a wide array of movie-goers. It also stretches to cross several genreís (action, horror, fantasy, romance, etc.). And then thereís that awesome trailer. Bloody marvelous. There are enough plot twists to keep you interested, and the characters have enough substance to stand between action sequences. Kudos to the supporting actors who did well in their parts, including Sophia Myles, Kevin Grevioux and Robbie Gee.

Beckinsale captures the persona of the immortal-damned-turned-self-righteous-heroine-vampire accurately, and given the revolutionary/turbulent ending her character ultimately brings about, she delivers it with a subtle passion rarely seen. Sheís excellent in this role.

This flick even tries to highlight some powerful social issues, including genetic manipulation and class wars, or better-yet, race wars.

At the least, itís destined to become a cult classic. More than likely it will launch into a trilogy, (because Hollywood is so deathly-afraid of new material and desperate to make a buck, itís become Sequel-Central. Maybe Stallone will produce the next two, who knows).

Stop the presses, we have a winner.

Rating: 5/5

Where:
5/5: Drop everything and go see it today
4/5: Definitely worth seeing in theaters
3/5: Easily worth the price of the matinee
2/5: Last Choice at Blockbuster
1/5: Keep your money, stay home & channel surf

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