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Underworld
Written: Danny McBride
Directed: Len Wiseman
Starring: Kate Beckinsale, Scott Speedman, Michael Sheen, Bill Nighy, Shane Brolly
Opens September 19th

Which Side Are You On? Who Really Cares?

Just to let you know the state I was in while watching Underworld, I'm sitting there getting ready for the movie to start when my friend Jon leans over and whispers to me. "So I've decided. When I die, I want to be buried two feet down rather than six. I think its better that way. Closer to the action, you know?"

To start with, what's going on with this whole Vs. thing? It all started with Godzilla Vs. that host of gigantic prehistoric / robotic monsters. Furthermore we've been hearing for years and years about the impending cinematic monolith of Alien Vs. Predator that never seems to happen. And just recently we had Freddy Vs. Jason. And now it's Vampires Vs. Werewolves? What gives? I think we need to have one epic free-for-all that will finally quench our thirst for these 'evil vs. evil' movies. Jason vs. Werewolves vs. Predator vs. Vampires vs. Freddy vs. Alien.... vs. Mothra. And it can be like one giant tag-team cage match. My main issue with these kinds of flicks is that the ego of the two combatants is far too great for one of them to actually win, so you always get some kind of kindergarten teacher style cop out: "Come on you two! Stop fighting. You're both Winners in my book!!!!!" Which is so wholly unsatisfying that you find yourself throwing boots and things at the screen and the projectionist and the ushers (those poor, underpaid, acne riddled, friend-less heroes of our modern age).

Free Williamsburg
Film Archive

2003

Underworld
Cabin Fever
American Splendor
Don't Tempt Me
Magdalene Sisters
Garage Days
Dirty Pretty Things
Buffalo Soldiers
The Sea Is Watching
Garmento
Capturing the Friedmans
The Eye
28 Days Later
Spellbound
Cowboy Bebop

Washington Heights
Better Luck Tomorrow
Confidence
View From the Top

Laurel Canyon

Spider
Spun
Ordinary Sinner
Dark Blue
Chaos
The Quiet American
XX/YY

2002

Intacto
Empire
Max
Hell House
Good Housekeeping
Roger Dodger
Spirited Away
Punch-Drunk Love
Bowling For Columbine
Scarlet Diva
Full Frontal
Sex and Lucia
The Powerpuff Girls Movie
Read My Lips (Sur Mes Levres)
The Dangerous Lives of Altar Boys
Barleby
Star Wars Episode II: Attack of the Clones
Human Nature
Shot in the Heart
Jim Brown: All American
Stolen Summer
Curve
Ram Dass: Fierce Grace
Storytelling


While being a Vs. flick, Underworld isn't as maddening as you'd expect. Not by a long shot. Actually I quite liked it, a lot. Jon, however, hated it. Normally with stupid movies those roles are reversed. Armageddon, for example, is one of Jon's favorites, it's what he watches when he's sick or depressed -- it's a cure-all for Jon. Usually I'm all uppity and analytical and shit. But for Christ's sake, it's Vampires Vs. Werewolves -- what is there to be uppity about.

But, just so everything's fair, here are some of Jon's gripes:
1) The Acting and the Characters. There really aren't any. Between the cast of a dozen or so there is maybe one or two actually expressed emotions. The rest of the time it's a party of stoics and their boring even-keeled friends. The Acting is therefore equally as bland and absent. But it's not supposed to be about the acting, is it? It's supposed to be about how sexy Kate Beckinsale looks in a tight leather suit, and dreamily how hot Scott Speedman is naked and covered in blue paint.
2) The Action. Apparently while they have lived for centuries and centuries, no one bothered to figure out how to aim their guns. Especially Selene (Beckinsale); when she fires the pair of guns she's always wandering around with it looks more like she's shaking maraca's than trying to kill anything.
3) The Story. Not sure why Jon hated this so much, I thought it was pretty cool. I think the way he put it was "Well, that's certainly not the movie that I would have made." Kind of like, this isn't the review that he would have written, and he doesn't really think Andy Roddick is as good as all that. "He just doesn't have that… thing, you know? I bet if I were his age I could kick his ass in tennis."

Now here are some of the things that I found redeeming.
1) It's Not Romeo and Juliet. Thankfully, despite the billing, Underworld has almost nothing in common with the most famous (and boring) love story ever told. I mean for god's sake who wants something like werewolves vs. vampires tainted with smooching and nose nuzzling and the making of whoopee.
2) It's Not Ann Rice. Seriously guys, someone needs to kill her. Or at least stop her from writing any more books.
3) It's Not Freddy Vs. Jason. It's deeper, darker and way better. Although it's no masterpiece, Underworld is for the most part entertaining, and generally cool.


The Ratings

Three tomes of back-story

They really put a lot of made up history in this thing. There's dozens of flashbacks and expository explanation of who did what to whom back in the day. I don't know if you like a lot of explanation to temper the action but personally I'm just impressed they came up with so much stuff.

One really bad death scene

This thing started in Japanese anime and it was pretty sweet back then. But now they're using it in live action movies and it's possibly the worst thing to happen to action since Steven Segal. It's those scenes where someone takes a sword and slices their valiant foe in half so quickly that no one realizes they've been cut until their torso or head slowly slides apart at a sharp angle. It is so tacky and simply unforgivable. I'm officially instigating a ban on any movie using such a death scene from here on out.

Two and a half hipsters

Given the drivel that has been pouring into theatres this summer, this is a welcome change. It's not trying to impress you, just entertain you. So don't expect too much, but think of it this way: when's the next time you're gonna be able to see Vampires fighting werewolves



--B.C. Edwards
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[email protected] | September 2003 | Issue 42
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