Somewhere in the deepest mists of Eastern Europe lies an urban hell shrouded in shadowy azure, where darkly enchanted, black-leather-clad denizens leap about to thudding techno, blurting outrageously melodramatic proclamations in randomly accented English. Erupting anew is a centuries-old blood-feud between the Vampires (superbly solemn Kate Beckinsale, Trent Reznor-like clown boy Shane Brolly) and the wolfy, non-lichen Lycans (Michael Sheen, co-conceptualist Kevin Grevioux). It's The Crow meets The Matrix, gothcore tricked out with wire stunts, and visually it's wild fun, since fledgling feature director Len Wiseman started off in production design, and creature designer Patrick Tatopoulos's diverse credits span from Godzilla to Stuart Little. Yet with Underworld's guilty pleasures come copious clinkers, from its nuts-and-bolts narrative foundation (scientifically explaining vampirism and lycanthropy) to Wiseman's inability to direct actors beyond cartoonish interaction. It's a project made for genre fans, by genre fans, engendering more comradeship than awe. But the Budapest-built project is tight enough, with an impressively oppressive look, boasting a construction crew consisting of four Laszlos and a Zoltán.
Director: Len Wiseman
Writer: Kevin Grevioux and Danny McBride
Producer: Gary Lucchesi, Tom Rosenberg and Richard S. Wright
Cast: Kate Beckinsale, Scott Speedman, Shane Brolly, Michael Sheen and Bill Nighy