Underworld (2003)

Let's start with the good. This is a rather aesthetically pleasing movie. Visually, it's verging on stunning: creepy blue lighting, pretty girls, cool monsters, lavish settings, and, lest we forget, bullet time effects on numerous occasions. If I'd played the movie muted, I might've liked it.

The basic premise is that there is a hidden "underworld" of vampires and werewolves -- Lycans, if you will; "lichens", if, like me, you won't -- and the two races are at war with each other. They have been for centuries, but now, the vampires are apparently on the brink of winning. They've become decadent, hanging around having dinner parties in luxurious mansions and developing technologically insane weaponry. The Lycans, however, are animalistic, divided, disorganised. Or are they?

Over the course of the movie, it emerges that one of the vampire Elders, Kraven (Shane Brolly) is a treacherous little pussy and, far from murdering the Lycan leader, Lucian (Michael Sheen), six centuries ago, is actually in the process of arranging a peace treaty with him -- in which he gets to reign as lord and master over both races, of course. The Lycans have been working on tracing descendents of the original immortals with a view to reuniting the vampire and Lycan bloodlines to create a hybrid race.

It's a nice idea, and the Anne Rice and White Wolf rip-offs can even be ignored. Somehow, somewhere, it all went wrong and what could've been a wonderful movie turns into a big pile of bullshit. Why are all the vampires such wimps? If I'd muted the movie, I could well have believed the vampires were humans. The only supernatural skill the vampires ever exhibited was the ability to turn their eyes blue. The technology is ridiculous, the characters unsympathetic, and almost every single scene required some extra suspension of disbelief, not just at the fantasy level, but at some common sense, even movie-logic level. The major flaw in the premise seems to be that the vampires could never have come this close to "winning" when even Elders go swanning about without the slightest ability to protect themselves. Guns do not a vampire make. Without completely ruining the entire movie, the final battle sequence made me attempt to sink into my seat to avoid seeing it in all its retarded glory.

To borrow a phrase from the movie itself, this is an "abomination." Bizarrely, Bill Nighy came off as far more menacing in Shaun of the Dead, and, if, as so many people seem to want to claim, your only desire is to see Kate Beckinsale in tight leather, there's always Van Helsing. Or letting rats eat your eyeballs. Trust me, it's better than putting yourself through this.

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