Movie Review


When the battle begins, which side will you choose?
Underworld Movie Poster

US Release Date: 09-19-2003

Directed by: Len Wiseman


  • Kate Beckinsale
  • Selene
  • Scott Speedman
  • Michael Corvin
  • Shane Brolly
  • Kraven
  • Michael Sheen
  • Lucian
  • Bill Nighy
  • Viktor
  • Sophia Myles
  • Erika
  • Kevin Grevioux
  • Raze
Average Stars:
Reviewed on: September 20th, 2003
Kate Beckinsale in Underworld.

Kate Beckinsale in Underworld.

From Nosferatu to Blade, vampires have been popular movie characters, while werewolves have been less so. There have been a few attempts (Wolfen, An American Werewolf in London, Wolf), but they haven't had the lasting impact of vampires. Underworld combines these two horror sub-genres into one visually stunning movie that owes more to The Matrix for its look than to any previous horror film.

In an unnamed city (although the movie was filmed in Budapest), the cold war that has existed between vampires and werewolves has suddenly become hot. Selene (Beckinsale), a vampire Death Dealer, witnesses two werewolves in human form following a mortal into a subway station. She follows with a fellow vampire and a gun battle ensues. (The vampires use silver bullets while the werewolves use a new special 'ultra-violet bullet' that acts like concentrated sunlight). After the battle, which leaves both the other vampire and one of the werewolves dead, Selene is left to ponder just why the werewolves were following the mortal.

The look of this opening scene, with its washed out blue lighting, gothic buildings, and characters draped in flowing leather jackets, sets the look for the rest of the movie. Sure, it bears more than a passing resemblance to the look of The Matrix, and Selene could be Trinity's younger, vampiric sister, but it doesn't matter. The look of the movie is beautiful, consistent, and it works. The stylistic eye candy is the best thing the movie has going for it.

As the plot progresses, Selene learns that the mortal named Michael (Speedman), that the werewolves were following, is carrying a secret that could affect the future of the vampires and the werewolves. Selene, who finds she is falling in love with him, must protect Michael from the werewolves who are hunting him. The matter is complicated by some political double-dealing amongst the rulers of vampire society, some of who may or may not be working with the werewolves.

It is Beckinsale who holds this movie together. As Selene, she is both beautiful and convincingly lethal. Although the special effects and stunt work add greatly to her character, it is Beckinsale who keeps her 'human'. And while the supporting cast all play their stock characters well enough, Speedman, as Michael, has little to do except act confused and ask 'What's happening?' a lot. Not since Dr. Who's rotating assistants has there been such a thankless part, but to be fair, he 'fits the suit' well enough.

And in the end, it is the look of the movie that is the real star. From the beautiful clothes, to the intricate wolf costumes, to the carefully choreographed fight scenes, this movie is a treat to watch. I was not surprised to learn after watching it, that its director, Len Wiseman, got his start by filming music videos.

The movie builds to its final clash between the two clans. Along the way, we learn some of the history of the two races as well as the original cause of the war, and one or two other secrets. And while the ending is final, it clearly leaves room for a sequel. Selene's voice over after the final battle practically comes right out and says, 'To be continued.'

While the romance may be tepid, and the dialogue kept to a minimum, Underworld manages to entertain, if not everyone, than at least fans of the vampire genre.

Reviewed on: January 30th, 2004
Kate Beckinsale in Underworld.

Kate Beckinsale in Underworld.

What bugged me most about this movie was that the vampires do nothing vampire like. The werewolves all get to change and slaughter vampires. The bloodsuckers don't suck anyone's blood. They kill with bullets. It is almost moot that Selene is even a vampire. None of the vampires fly, turn into bats or mist. In one scene, Selene even sees her reflection. Didn't the writer read any vampire lore before putting this plot together?

As Scott mentions many times, the look and direction is done well enough. Since there is little characterization, the style of the movie only goes so far. Beckinsale looks good in leather, but it is not enough to keep the movie together.

The biggest thing missing from this horror/action movie is the fear. The movie has zero scary scenes. The gore, however, is plentiful. The final death is gruesomely over the top. Still, this film remains all style and no substance.

Reviewed on: April 6th, 2005
Kate Beckinsale in Underworld.

Kate Beckinsale in Underworld.

My first two thoughts after seeing this movie were, “Sunlight in a bullet?" followed immediately by, “Why is there always a Lucian?"

Yes, it's stylish and Kate Beckinsale is good, she looks the part beautifully. Still the constant muted shades of green and blue got on my nerves after a while. About the only other color you see is red whenever someone is killed or wounded.

I suppose Scott is right that fans of vampire movies will enjoy this one but frankly I was bored to distraction. And I agree with Eric that the vampires, other than having fangs, didn't really act like the movie breed we're used to seeing. The final gruesome death that Eric mentioned was cool however. The best special effect of the entire movie. Seeing someone get their head sliced in two almost made the two hours I spent watching Underworld worthwhile. But not quite.

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