Underworld (2003)

So hey, it’s been forever, but guess what! Halloween month is upon us and this year is the year of the vampire!!! So, here we have our first vampire movie!

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Underworld (2003)
 Dir. Len Wiseman
 Writ. Kevin Grevioux, Len Wiseman
 Stars: Kate Beckinsale, Scott Speedman, Bill Nighy, Michael Sheen
 Rated R
 121 mins.
 Action, Supernatural
 IMDB 7.0

This was my first vampire movie of Halloween 2016: Year of the Vampire because… it’s one of two vampire movies that my family owns on DVD. (The other is Twilight, the reason that vampires haven’t been cool for far too long, so NO, lol) Honestly, I always hear this described as a ‘really bad’ movie, but I love it. Always have.

As a child, I loved Halloween insane amounts and nothing was better than vampires. I don’t even remember watching vampire movies as a child BEFORE I got super into vampires, because they were mostly R-Rated movies and I’m talking like at 6 years old I was SUPER into vampires. For 12 years in my childhood, I was a vampire for Halloween, that’s how into vampires I was. The only other years were… an angel, Pocahontas, and a witch. The rest were all vampires.

Because of the time this movie came out and my vampire obsession, this was actually one of the first vampire movies I ever saw, I’m pretty sure. I mean, The Little Vampire, sure, but that was a children’s movie. I thought that, maybe, the reason I loved it and everybody else didn’t is because I watched it as a child, and I haven’t seen it since I was about 15, so when I stuck it in tonight, I was really expecting to have my childhood ruined. INSTEAD, I just had it confirmed that I really like this movie!

Underworld is about the war between vampires and lycans (werewolves) that has lasted for centuries coming to a head at a time of great transition for the vampires as it is time for the current Elder Vampire to go into hibernation and a new leader to awaken. Selene (Kate Beckinsale), our warrior protagonist, a Death Bringer who finds and kills lycans in the war against their species, finds a large number of lycans targeting a human (Scott Speedman) and wants to discover why. In her journey to find the truth, she also discovers the truth about why the vampires and lycans are at war.

There are a number of reasons why this is actually a really good movie, some of them actual narrative reasons, and some just things I like personally, and they are as follows:

1. It isn’t told like a horror movie, it is more like a spy movie but instead of ‘good spys’ vs ‘bad spies’ it’s vampires vs werewolves. Humans play such a small part in this movie, so it’s not ‘ooh, aaah scary monsters’, it’s basically just a war movie with supernaturals. In fact, the only humans that even have speaking parts in this movie are Michael the Main Dude and his doctor friend who I only realized this time watching was a young Wentworth Miller (I’m on a Wentworth Miller obsession kick since I’ve been watching Prison Break, so that was a fun ‘oh hey!’ moment)

2. This movie is the only time I’ve seen vampire lore in which vampires seem to be living beings. The main reasons I think the vampires are ALIVE here is that Selene almost drowns, meaning vampires have to breathe in order to live (something most vampires don’t have to do, since their heart doesn’t beat), and these vampires reproduce. You learn about one of them having had a daughter and I’m pretty sure I’ve never seen another movie where vampires can sexually reproduce. It’s REALLY unique!

3. In the same vein as the last cool point, werewolves are immortal! Lucian has been alive for centuries! In most lore, werewolves live normal human lifespans (or thereabouts) but these werewolves clearly are immortal much like the vampires. That one is very interesting as well. It makes the whole ‘hunt lycans to extinction’ thing far more interesting.

4. KATE BECKINSALE ISN’T WEARING HEELS! PRAISE THE LORD HALLELUJAH! Anybody that knows me knows I absolutely ABHOR the stupid way that in movies and on television, the women are fighting in FREAKING HEELS! In almost any movie or any TV show, the warrior women are dressed for battle and that includes heeled boots, because OBVIOUSLY, a warrior is going to CHOOSE to fight fashionably. Even the ‘not a girly girl’ fighters have heels if nothing else than to make them taller on the screen. It’s the worst thing ever. I hate it. I hate it so much. It’s so impractical and narratively makes zero sense. It’s such a stupid, sexist, ridiculous thing to do. In this movie, Selene’s ENTIRE fighting outfit is absolutely impractical, but she’s wearing combat-style-heeled boots so I don’t even care that her suit is made of like bondage-PVC and a corset, or that a floor-length leather jacket that cannot be practical to fight in. Because SHE IS NOT WEARING HEELS!

5. Bill Nighy is just so. freaking. scary in this movie. Like, he’s so creepy. He doesn’t even do all that much, he’s just amazingly creepy and I love it. He’s soooo good for it to be an ‘average’ supernatural action film. I mean… it’s Bill Nighy! (Also, without spoilers for those who haven’t seen it, how SICK is that thing at the end that happens??? Omg it’s so gross but in a cool way!)

Basically, I just really like this movie.

Yes, it has some really weird things going on, such as how the city is ‘Generic European City #4’ and there is no common accent amongst any of the characters, you’ve got American’s, Brits, Vaguely Eastern European But Nothing Specific, some that sound like a mixture of British and American, and from the postal code in one of the scenes, it is apparently in Stockholm, Sweden. And yes, Selene and Michael being into each other is kinda weird and has no basis, but to be fair, he is pretty hot, so why wouldn’t she be like ‘mmmm, I want me some of that!’ and she’s super hot and wearing a weird goth fetish outfit, so why wouldn’t he want some of that, too? And the fact nobody has noticed any of this is HELLA weird, so it’s not that logical, but whatever. It’s still cool.

My Rating: 7/10

 

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About J. Chelsea Williford

Student at Middle Georgia State University, writer, pop culture lover.
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