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movie reviewvideo review out of 4 Movie Review: Underworld

Starring: Kate Beckinsale, Scott Speedman
Director: Len Wiseman
Rated: R
RunTime: 121 Minutes
Release Date: September 2003
Genres: Action, Horror, Romance

*Also starring: Shane Brolly, Michael Sheen, Bill Nighy, Erwin Leder, Sophia Myles, Richard Cetrone, Robby Gee, Kevin Grevioux, Ildiko Kovacs, Danny McBride

Review by Susan Granger
2 stars out of 4

Cleverly contrived to evoke fear about viral contamination, this action-horror fantasy revolves around the provocative premise of two ancient rivals vying for domination over the human race.

For centuries, vampires and lycans (werewolves) have evolved. In an unnamed Eastern European city, the arrogant leader (Shane Brolly) of the dominant, blood-drinking vampires believes they've achieved superiority, but black leather-clad Selena (Kate Beckinsale), a vengeful Death Dealer warrior, isn't quite sure. When she spies some feral, snout-nosed lycans stalking a human, Michael Corvin (Scott Speedman), she's suspicious and intervenes. Has the lycan leader (Michael Sheen) discovered something in this mortal that would tip the balance of power in favor of the werewolves. Indeed he has. It seems that the unwitting young medical student is a genetic cross-breed, descended from a family that has both vampire and lycan blood. So it's time to awaken Viktor (Bill Nighy), the hibernating vampire chief, and go to battle once again.

Written by Danny McBride and directed by Len Wiseman from a mysticism-discarding story by McBride, Wiseman and Kevin Grevioux, it reeks with grotesque Gothic atmosphere, courtesy of cinematographer Tony Pierce-Roberts. Kate Beckinsale is the stylishly sleek heroine, evoking a Carrie-Ann Moss/ Lara Flynn Boyle/Angelina Jolie amalgam, while victimized Scott Speedman achieves an amazing visual transformation, courtesy of creature-creator Peter Tatopoulos. After this summer's excessive CGI, it's refreshing to watch prosthetic-enhanced actors perform the wire-work and stunts. On the Granger Movie Gauge of 1 to 10, "Underworld" is a slick, supernatural 5. Let's just say: you can really sink your teeth into this bloody, predatory lore.

Copyright 2003 Susan Granger

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