1 November 2005 | aimless-46
Features on the 2 Disc DVD Make It the Way to Go
The "Underworld" sequel will soon be out so now is a good time to revisit the original. Personally I enjoyed this film more than any high budget "mainstream movie" I have seen in years years. But I can see many of the problems others have pointed out. Although the small action scenes work very well, the more elaborate scenes are disjointed, confused, and somewhat silly. If you compare the opening subway sequence to the train station sequence in "The Untouchables", you see an illustration of why less is better; and "Underworld" expends more ammo for less effect than anything this side of a "Godzilla" film.
Along with too much aggressive confusion is the silliest head-splitting in cinema history. Similar to the way Tarentino dispatched Lucy Lie in "Kill Bill Vol.1" (i.e. a delay in the actual detachment-I don't know which film did it first but Tarentine did it way better), the effects editor overlooked the need to show a slice in the head before it topples off. Surely this was just simple incompetence and not deliberate, because there are ways to show this (i.e. a line) that would still make it a relatively shocking scene.
The story itself breaks too many horror genre conventions and fails to generate much real suspense (although the climax is somewhat surprising). But ultimately these problems did not interfere with my enjoyment of the movie.
This was because it is first and foremost a Kate Beckensale's vehicle, as emphasized by recent trailer for the sequel. It is likely that your feeling about the film will depend on your impression of Beckensale. She has never looked better and I'm just talking about her face which I could watch in closeup for two hours without the slightest complaint. She is increasingly an absolute ringer for a 1940-ish Loretta Young. An earlier comment noted that: "This 30 year old has the figure and face of a magazine model, with the bored flat expression to match. Pour this tight little body into a rubber suit with especially reflective pants and you have something to anchor your movie". All this is very true but add intelligence, subtlety and nuance not seen since Diana Rigg was playing Mrs. Peel. The film does not demonstrate her range (you have to watch "Alice Through the Looking Glass" for the best evidence of that) but it is one of those rare cases where you can't imagine anyone but her in the role.
The production design, lighting, and cinematography are all excellent and the DVD has some great features explaining these aspects of the production.
The film has a nice consistent look that fits very well with the story. I don't understand the comments that are negative overall, or what films these people are unfavorably comparing it to, can't be the garbage films that have been coming to mainstream theaters over the past few years. Bottom line, if you like the genre, appreciate stylish production design, and think highly of Ms. Beckensale you should make it a point to see this movie.