Story. Sexy. Badass. Prosthetics. CGI. Romance. Vampires. Lycans. And Cheese, oh my! Underworld offers it all. When movies were getting good at this thing called computer generated effects this little ticker decided to show real effects in full moon. With an original concept, Underworld still remains fresh twenty years on. Combination of werewolves and vampires having a bloody feud for a number of centuries makes for some amazing stuff and epic storytelling (within the original trilogy).
To put something like this on screen now in 2022 is out of the question. Horror has become artsy and unsettling in atmosphere with no deliberate payoff. Action and adventure have become reliant on older projects from various entertainment mediums like video games and comic books to bring ideas and something new to screen. 2003 was in a prime time of movies containing daring stories that combined what we knew into something new. Like Hellboy (2004) or Reign of Fire (2002) for example were fun innovative movies that made us look forward to the movie experience. With Underworld in mind, effects were used properly and confidently. Currently, movies use CGI over prosthetics more by today’s output and I am hopeful when we see a full werewolf transformation on screen or another satisfying successful effect to see people’s hard work paid off for longevity of a film than a scraper that satisfies a paycheck from a mouse click and drag. This is simply me griping of a standard that I wish was sustained from werewolf greats like The Howling (1981) or An American Werewolf in London (1981). CGI helps, but prosthetics age better.
On to the movie, Kate as Selene is a fire fox. As cute as she is off screen, she delivers a total badass on screen. The world that is built is fascinating and hard to sink in upon first view but satisfying. I can’t help but think Len Wiseman, Director, would have been perfect for a Resident Evil adaptation. With that said, those involved who wrote and starred in the movie really out did themselves. Makes me wonder if they were aware what they were setting up, because the world building is truly unique. Sure we have Twighlight but I see Underworld being the stronger and more satisfying world with a Romeo and Juliet storyline. I suppose i gravitate to the moodiness and bloody action-horror sequences.
Every casted role is perfect. The mood is perfect. The setting is cool. I would like to have had more gothic/dark metal music to fit the tone in the movie but perhaps that could have listed Underworld as an MTV flick.
Onto some other plot points that could be mild spoilers: Amelia is the vampire who is currently living her life and is held responsible for the current reign of the vampires before her next slumber. As far as I know, these vampires who are required to reign are highly experienced. However, when her train is ambushed upon arrival by Lycans she gets a couple deep scratches without a fight and calls it a day. Her reign is over without a fight and she’s stuck with clothing from the Victorian era. Personally I think there should have been a fight squeezed in here at least to prove her authority and power. It could have even remained in the extended unrated cut, which the cut ultimately added almost nothing except for clips that threw off the flow of the movie and a boob tease. A train fight scene involving a single vampire elder and a group of Lycans hellbent on assassination would have been cool and benefitted the cut.
I’ve noticed movies released in this timeline after The Matrix (1999) often seem to require a subway station event. Some 90’s flicks had this occur like Jacob’s Ladder (1990), however, subway’s became the hot spot for tiles to be shot off walls thanks to Mr. Anderson post 90’s. Such movies like mentioned above, became a staple for the early decade of the 21st century. Underworld opens with a subway firefight and sticks with the close hallways and darkly lit rooms. It’s epicness relies on the storytelling and the context of how the story is carried out through the likes of vampires and werewolves.
To me, Underworld was an important movie. It introduced a world of dark gothic horror and drama. A story that told romance and adventure. It’s effect has a better impact than we would like to admit since it’s initial release. Nothing has been like it ever since but on the contrary it has inspired and opened a world that was unforeseen before. With a combination of two nasty monsters having a legendary feud in a classic bout in special bold effects and a story that binds them. I grew up watching this since release and loved it ever since. Nothing has replaced the cheesey dialogue or the acting delivery. Underworld is influential and a highly overlooked piece of movie making by today’s standards.