Ever wonder what it would be like if the prom queen from your high school went goth? You know, she's cute as a button one day, and the next she shows up with jet-black hair, and clad in enough leather to be a model for Wilsons: The Leather Experts. After seeing Kate Beckinsale in this year's Laurel Canyon where she's all cute and innocent-looking, the prom-queen-gone-goth theme is pretty much what it felt like watching her in Underworld, a decent flick about an ongoing war between vampires and lycans (a fancy term for a werewolf).
You won't find a Hades or the river Styx in Underworld, which is a crappy title, because this isn't the mythological Underworld, but it's apparently somewhere in England, although we are never told exactly where. The movie starts out nicely with Selene (Beckinsale) perched atop a building, Catwoman style, stalking the lycans, who in turn are stalking a mere mortal, Michael (Speedman) who apparently carries with him the key to unlock a mysterious secret. Of course, he doesn't know he's carrying this proverbial key and is none the wiser about said war between the bloodsuckers and wolf-morphers. This movie feels like a mix of Blade (for the vampires and a scene at the end blatantly copped from Blade II), Dark City (for the unsuspecting human being dragged into a secretive world), The Matrix (for the ungodly amount of leather and similar fight scenes) and Romeo and Juliet. What, you didn't think the vampire and human would fall in love? You best think again. I really had a problem with the ending of this movie. The storyline is very solid and well-developed, with a nice, slow building plot that adds suspense and intrigue. But when we get to the end, it seems as if it was written by a committee who all had a different take on how it should end. It goes in too many directions at once and it's fairly annoying. The ending also kind of doesn't give you anyone to root for anymore. The whole movie we're led to believe that the vampire's are the good guys and the werewolves all must die, and stuff. But when we know what we know after the end, we don't really care if they all die, because the reasoning behind this war is just inane. And it also irks me when a movie makes a blatant shove for a sequel at the end, which they do here.
The acting here is pretty good from Beckinsale and Speedman. I never would have dreamed of Beckinsale in this role, given the lighter roles she's taken in the past. But this girl has range, ladies and gentleman, and she pulls off this role wonderfully as the dark warrior who angers at how docile her coven has become under their new leader, Kraven (Shane Brolly). Speedman, who had a breakthrough role in this year's terrific Dark Blue, gives another solid performance as Michael, the human who knows too much, although he doesn't know that he knows too much. Michael Sheen delivers a pretty good performance as Lucian, the leader of the lycans, although he looks like Steve Buscemi's long-haired brother on crack. And if you're a fan of Snatch as I am, look for a small-yet-good performance from Robbie Gee, who played Vinny in the wonderful Guy Ritchie film.
The supporting performances weren't up to snuff, however. Shane Brolly is too forced and contrived as Kraven, Bill Nighy is pretty bland as Viktor, Sophia Myles is just annoying as Erika