posted on Aug, 19 2004 @ 12:50 PM
I saw this movie in the theaters. We got there for the first showing, on opening day in our area. The theater in which this movie ran, had exactly
seven people in it; including us. Not a good sign, but in all fairness, it was on a week day (Friday), and during school hours, so tonight may be a
very different story. Since viewing the multiple trailers for this movie, we have looked forward to today with such a great and growing anticipation
that I commented on the way there that there was NO WAY it was going to be good, because of the anticipation I had for it.
I was SO wrong.
This movie lived up to my every expectation, in every way. Let me start this review by saying that, while this work is NOT scary, it was not MEANT to
be scary. This production was classed into the genre of "Horror," strictly due to the "monster" factor. There are "tense" moments, to be sure,
but this is not a "boo!" kind of movie. There is; however, plenty of action, lots of well enacted drama and wonderful realistic effects. Now, I'm
not some drugged up kid who has no idea about life.
I'm 30-something, married and committed to that marriage. Responsibility crept in at some point and that's usually when we begin to lose our
imaginations. But I have not fallen victim to that disease as yet, as this movie really "lit my fire."
I was amazed at the complete and total lack of high-dollar effects, the almost Rice-ian Vampire clans lounging in the well designed lush and lavish
"mansion," the gritty tension held throughout the movie, and the stunningly clever costume designs. But what held me mostly in thrall were the
effects. The effects were so well done, they were believable.
They explain that the older Lycan can change at will, regardless of the moon's cycle ... with that in mind, the way the werewolves' mandible bones
FORCED themselves out and into place was dead ON. Changing at will would BE like that, especially in times of anger or great stress.
Someone (possibly Wiseman?) had heard (and correctly believed) that "less is more," because the effects were done in such a way as to appear REAL
and not...simply more Hollywood "Matrix" flash. These scenes were so well done; so well directed, filmed and portrayed that we could, even if for a
short time, believe the things we were watching...were possible.
The wonderfully unique bullets used by both sides are absolutely brilliant. It reminded me if the horribly campy western/vampire movie made about 10
or 15 years ago entitled, "Sundown," where the vampire hunters used wooden bullets.
I am simply stunned to discover that this is Len Wiseman's first attempt in the field as Director. I eagerly look forward to more brilliance from
this man. (He was also one of the writers of the original literary work.) If this is his first attempt, we may have just been introduced to the next
Spielberg. Personally, I'm hoping he leans more towards being the next Hitchcock.
I would really love to see what he could do with Stephen King's and Peter Straub's "The Talisman." I'd hire him over Mick Garris, ANY day! The
weaponry Selene (Kate Beckinsale) utilized was quite unique and completely interested the small audience in my hometown theater. When she drew her
stars and threw them simultaneously at the Lycan; when the scene slowed to an almost stop just long enough to allow you to SEE the throwing stars as
they CHANGED into much more deadly projectiles, was absolutely excellent. AND was also the ONLY scene in this entire movie which even remotely
reminded me of "The Matrix." The other critics keep droning on and on with comparisons between these two movies, and frankly, I just don't see it.
Also, "Blade" has been used as a source of comparison. The only similarities between "Blade" and "Underworld" are that Viktor, the oldest and
strongest of the Vampiric race of "Pure Bloods," uses a sword. Oh, and there are Vampires. Those were the ONLY common points, as far as I could
This is an original work; not a petty rip-off or a "jumble of other movies." This is a very creative and unique attempt; a successful one, if you
ask me. While guns were used more than I would have liked, the additional weaponry chosen for this endeavor was not your standard action-flick fare.
One of the vampire "Death Dealers" uses a pair of 10' whips quite well. And don't forget about the bullets I mentioned...what an extraordinary
intellectual and creative power. (and NO! they're not wooden! *lol*)
The costumes were kept simple, yet served the purpose of helping to set the mood. Two words...understated elegance. Absolutely brilliant.
Some have said that the story line is hard to follow, or that there is no discernible plot. Let me be frank. This is not a movie for the squeamish,
nor is it a movie for those who like to be able to do other things while watching a movie, and thereby NOT concentrate on the plot. Sure, there is
enough visual eye candy to keep most anyone who is interested in the genre of "monster flix" happy, but there is also a very complicated and
beautifully sinister plot and subplot going on beneath the flying bullets and shots of Kate Beckinsale's butt in latex and leather.
The Shakespearean relationship between Selene and Michael (Scott Speedman) is well written and pleasantly portrayed, in the midst of all that darkness
and drama. A bit of candle-light to shine hope into the darkness of despair, as it were. The story is an upgraded spin on a timeless classic, with
enough additional plot and sub-plot to keep even the most common movie-goer interested.
The war between the Vampires and the Lycan has raged for more than a thousand years. The Lycan, once the serving class to the Vampire, has risen
against their masters and won their freedom. But was that the real story? Was their freedom truly the motivating force which stoked the fires of this
war for this long?
In the center of this war are Selene (Vampire) and Michael (Lycan). Their love of one another is forbidden by the Vampire Covenant, but will that be
enough to stop them from falling in love? As one of the chosen "Death Dealers," an organization within the Vampire Clans trained and equipped to
hunt and kill Lycans, Selene is faced with a decision most dire: sell out and live? or be true to herself and die? Will her loyalty to her ancient
maker keep her from making the right choice? And that is where the sub-plot kicks in and makes you sit back and say, "Oh wow! No sh*t?!" at the
darkling twists in the plot.
I was thoroughly entertained by this work, and could not wait to add the Special Edition Director's Cut DVD to the Vampire section of my horror
Superb acting; rich depth of character; talented, creative directing; and realistic effects put this movie at the top of all other Vampire movies, for
It earns an ambitious 9.2.