September 24, 2003  
Volume 97, Issue 15  

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Gothic love in the Underworld

By Darren Glowacki
Gazette Staff


Starring: Kate Beckinsale, Scott Speedman, Shane Brolly
Directed by: Len Wiseman

Screen Gems and Lakeshore Entertainment/2003
EVEN VAMPIRES GET THE BLUES. Kate Beckinsale plays Selene in Underworld and gets ready to kick some werewolf ass - or, she'll just pump 'em full of bullets.

Vampire movies are quite common these days - a fresh new crop arrives every few years or so to fight for their own originality. We had the Blade series and Dracula 2000 all in the past couple of years, just to name a couple.

One wonders why filmmakers keep choosing to shoot the same old idea. It is because the idea is still one of North America's favourite ghost tales. However, filmmakers need to innovate the vampire fable and hope it will become a box office hit.

Underworld does contain that spark to become the next vampire hit, as it loosely falls into the vampire category. It's all about the supernatural, focusing on a war that has been raging for nearly 1,000 years between the Lycans (werewolves) and the vampires. The time frame is present day, although the old gothic cars and mansions may deter you from believing so.

An extremely unique movie, Underworld relies more on story and character development than on typical gore and slaughter. The film has a feel and texture similar to Interview with a Vampire - old Victorian homes along with elegant dresses and suits bear quite a resemblance to Anne Rice's classic.

The twist to this movie, of course, is the Lycan. Lycans are beautifully rendered beasts that stand a good seven feet tall and resemble a cross between a wolf and a human. There is a scene when two werewolves are fighting in an underground subway - it brings back traces of a Fight Club scrap. It is definitely interesting to see two werewolves boxing for fun, proving humans aren't the only species built to destroy each other.

Beckinsale (Pearl Harbour) plays the beautiful vampiress Selene, clad in black leather, who is out to avenge the death of her family. Told that her family was savagely killed and eaten by a pack of Lycans, Selene will never cease to hunt until every last werewolf is dead. Throughout the movie Corvin (Speedman), a mysterious and ambitious intern, is being chased and hunted by both vampires and Lycans. To explain why would spoil the entire movie.

If the movie were to be compared to another film, then Underworld is reminiscent of Blade I and II. This is mainly due to the similarity in costume and artillery. Blade borrows from The Matrix. Blade had an all-black leather suit, as does Selene, while the twin hand-guns in slo-mo are in both films; it just seems like overkill nowadays. What is really gothic is the lair in the vampire's beautiful old mansion, which resembles something built in the 19th century. The house is very eerie; it has vampires and dogs patrolling the perimeter and a cryptic vault containing a millennium-old sleeping vampire.

If you are a fan of the horror genre, this is a definite must-see, even if you don't especially like tales of vampires and werewolves. And it isn't corny like your average horror flick; Underworld is a dark and gothic movie with a great plot and enough subplots to keep you guessing. If you are expecting straight action and gore with no story, then this is not the movie for you. If you want to go see a good film with some action and a strange love twist, then Underworld would be perfect.

Oh yeah - and for the guys, it might be a good idea to bring a date, because she'll get scared.



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