I have to admit, exiting the theater after first seeing Underworld, I thought it was a desperate cash-in on the Matrix generation. It wasnt until the DVD hit that I grew a real appreciation for the film. At first glance, many of the action and FX sequences look like they are entirely CG, which turned me off entirely at first. As the behind the scenes featurettes will prove, however, the film actually employs a great deal of physical FX and wire work, effects that are ironically so convincing it is easy to suspect them of cheating. Underworld finds two rival clans of vampires and werewolves pitted against each other in an epic battle, and follows a vampiress as she unravels the werewolves plot to end the feud by fusing the two bloodlines together in a human host. No one can deny the hotness of the sleek and sexy Kate Bekinsale, but she along with each of the other actors (minus Shane Broly) contribute commanding roles, giving this considerably small film a greatly expanded feel. The biggest inhibitor is the short run-time (even at 2hrs), as the plot and mythology behind the clans certainly offers enough back story alone to fill an entire hour and a half, let alone the events that take place during the film. I would have liked to have seen more of Amelia and Viktor, since their roles had to be cut down significantly, but they were successfully shortened to hurry along the tight pacing. Though not my favorite, the werewolf costumes are pretty intimidating, and even the vamps look pretty cool and relevant to the times. The sophisticated weaponry and gadgets of the vamps being contrasted with the primal fury of the werewolves is also a perfect contrast for the action sequences, but more importantly there is never a point where either side ever has an obvious advantage. In the end, Underworld manages to create a thrilling, spectacular, and stunning viewing experience, and despite its relatively simple plot, it establishes the series as a complete and unique world that deserved to be revisited in future films.
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