Vampires and werewolves get a Matrix-like millennial make-over in this unexpectedly adventurous fantasy flick. Under the streets of Budapest, Lucian (Sheen) is doing his best to drum some sense of decorum into his gang: 'You're behaving like a pack of wild dogs,' he moans. 'Go and put some clothes on.' How are the lycans ever going to compete with their ancient foe, that blood-swilling coven of upper class creeps, the vampires? Lucian's plan hinges on an ignorant American human, Michael (Speedman), but quick-witted vamp Selene (Beckinsale) is already on the case. Less campy than it might sound (though any film with a medieval Bill Nighy in his birthday suit is going to have its moments), Underworld has a surprisingly strong narrative, with a defined theme (hatred), subtext (class division, miscegenation), and a resourceful, complex heroine - in fetish gear and kinky boots (pretty sexy if you don't mind the undead thing - you can spot the baddie by the way he keeps trying to get Selene to change into a posh frock). No quibbles about the movie's desaturated moonlight camerwork either. But first time director Wiseman comes from ads and music videos, and it shows in the variable performances and unmodulated, bombastic tone. Every scene is pitched at the same exhaustingly hyper tempo. It was probably a mistake to compete with mega-budget action movies too. By arming their horror icons with automatic weapons, the makers shoot themselves in the foot: these vampires have no teeth - hell, they don't even fly.
Cast and crew