Underworld (R / unrated)
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Caution: spoilers (at least of the backstory).
This came out in 2003, but I didn't see it until 2016. (I saw the unrated extended cut, but I don't know how different it is from the R-rated version. I mean, I didn't see anything in it that couldn't be in an R movie.) Anyway, by the time I saw it, there were already four movies in the series, with a fifth scheduled for release in 2017. So, I expect I'd like to see all of them, eventually.
It begins with some narrative exposition by a vampire named Selene (Kate Beckinsale), about a war that's been going on between vampires and Lycans (werewolves) for nearly 1000 years. However, 600 years ago, the vampires scored a big victory when one of them killed Lucian, the leader of the Lycans. Since then, vampires have hunted Lycans nearly to extinction. Once the basic premise of the movie is established, the action quickly begins. I gotta say, it was kind of hard for me to follow everything that happened, at first. Selene and her partner were following a couple of guys who I guess they knew were Lycans, and then... a gun battle starts. Lots and lots and lots of shooting. A human woman gets caught in the crossfire, and a man named Michael Corvin (who is a medical student, or a resident, or something) tries to help her. (I have no idea what happened to the woman after that... maybe we saw her lying in a hospital bed later, or not, I'm not sure. But she's not important.)
Anyway, I guess Selene's partner was killed by a Lycan. She then goes back to the mansion where all the vampires live. (Most of them, apparently, are decadent types who do nothing but sit around... being vampires and looking sexy.) Selene, on the other hand, is one of the warriors, called Death Dealers. She believes there may be a much larger den of Lycans in the city than has been seen for centuries. But the leader of the coven, Kraven, doesn't believe her. (Incidentally, I don't think I've ever heard the word "coven" used for vampires before, just witches.) Selene is also concerned to have discovered that the Lycans have developed a new type of UV bullet to kill vampires. She gives a gun she had taken from the battle to a vampire named Kahn to examine, which inspires him to create silver nitrate bullets, to kill Lycans. (It seems that Lycans can expel ordinary silver bullets from their bodies, if they don't die first. But that trick won't work with the new bullets.) Also, Selene reviews video footage from the battle, and realizes the Lycans had been following Michael Corvin. This also worries her, and she wants to know what's so important about him. But once again, Kraven doesn't take her concerns seriously.
Um... and there's a lot of backstory that gets parceled out throughout the movie. There are three vampire elders: Viktor, Marcus, and Amelia. But only one of them is awake at a time; the other two spend... at least a century in hibernation, I think. Could be two, or even several centuries. Whatever... Amelia is the currently awake elder, and she's traveling from wherever her coven is to wherever Kraven's coven is. I think she's supposed to go into hibernation in a couple of days, when Marcus will be awakened to start his shift. Meanwhile, Kraven wants Selene to be, like, his girlfriend, or whatever. She has no interest in him whatsoever, but there's another vampire, Erika (Sophia Myles), who is very interested in Kraven. But Kraven shows little interest in Erika (for most of the movie). Selene doesn't like the fact that Viktor (who was like a father to her) left Kraven in charge of the coven, when he went into hibernation. But apparently, it was because Kraven was the one who killed Lucian. Anyway, against Kraven's wishes, Selene goes to find Michael and try to learn why the Lycans were interested in him. Michael himself has no idea. All of this is new to him, though he does seem to take the existence of vampires and werewolves pretty much in stride. Eventually, Selene learns what the Lycans are up to, but I won't spoil that. And Michael learns how the war started, but I won't spoil that, either.
And... gosh, lots of stuff happens. It's all rather complicated, and I really don't want to reveal any more of it (though I expect I'll have to, if and when I watch and review the next movie). I will say that apparently the movie was not very well-received by most critics, which I just learned while looking at Wikipedia to write this review. It's kind of surprising to me, because I thought it was a good movie, and I don't recall ever hearing or reading otherwise. But whatevs. At least some critics praised the movie's style, and on that I heartily agree. Very stylish, in a dark, Gothic way. And badass... though the fact that both Lycans and vampires used guns so much made it almost more like a regular action movie than a supernatural one, which I thought was a bit disappointing. Not bad, just... it would have been nice to see more classic vampire vs. werewolf action. (For the most part, I thought the look of the vampires was decent, but minimalist. What little we did see of the Lycans in wolf form was pretty cool, but most of the time they just looked human.) There were probably other things I thought I'd like to mention, while watching the movie, but alas, if so, I've already forgotten them. But anyway, it was a cool movie, and I'm glad I've finally seen it.
Underworld * Evolution * Rise of the Lycans * Endless War * Awakening * Blood Wars