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so...underworld.

Demure or something
astonishingly enough, all went as (approximately) planned and we saw Underworld last night. i walked away from the showing with mixed feelings, which seems to be the general consensus among people who didn't charge screaming at the ticket booth post-viewing, demanding their money back and making vivid threats involving "kneecaps" and "malatov cocktails." here then, is my opinion, which you may interpret as pure critical gospel or discard at your leisure.*

The Good
in really real life i know that wearing a suit of vinyl from chin to tarsals is a sure petition for instantaneous heat stroke, but boy does it look cool. that having been said, perhaps i was merely distracted by all the pretty things and therefore my judgement was colored--but from where i was sitting, the storyline wasn't half bad. in some ways it was straightforwardly formulaic (which i have no specific problem with), and therefore it ran toward the predictable; but in other ways it was a genuine attempt to do something new and interesting with the available technology.

The Bad
some damned fool took that perfectly serviceable plotline and unloaded a shotgun into it. to sit here and do a bean-counting of these holes would be dull to me and hyperinformative to you, so i'll spare us all the inconvenience; suffice it to say, there were a dozen places where another line or two of dialogue-provided info could have saved the script. also, the behavior of the primary characters was at best formally stylized, and at worst absolutely baffling. i'm as game for swishy death-dealing doom sequences as the next girl, and those parts were all good--but when it came time for the protagonists to act like believable characters, there was no more pretending that this movie boasted a single writer on its production staff.

it could be argued that these are vampires and they are thereby released of their obligation to behave like realistic people, but i would counter that this is a sad, sad cop-out that does not warrant even five seconds of my contemplation. the only good monster stories are the ones that keep in mind the one constant of the universe: human nature. it never, never, never changes. these vampires were once people, and they clearly still suffer from the neuroses of humanity--therefore i was disappointed with them, and i will not apologize for my reaction.

it's hard for me to illustrate this point effectively without providing elaborate spoilers, so i'll just put my favorite example here, behind this cut tag.

Selene (the vinyl-clad Kate) spends the better part of this movie trying to establish that "Craven" (the unfortunately-named coven leader) is a raving liar with treasonous loyalties. she rebuffs his advances, defies him before the clan, and generally demonstrates with great effectiveness that (a). he lacks all credibility and (b). she would not spit at him if he was on fire. instead she carries an unflickering torch for the slumbering elder (and her sire) Victor, who can do no wrong so far as she is concerned.

when Victor is awakened and joins the story in progress, Craven (in a fit of jealous anger) tells Selene that it was really Victor who killed her family, and not a band of hungry werewolves.

and she INSTANTLY, WITHOUT ANY INITIAL DENIAL, REBUTTAL, OR OBVIOUS INTERNAL CONFLICT, BELIEVES HIM and COMMENCES SOBBING. i flinched--i seriously flinched. two hours into this movie, the intractable Selene with an undying Electra-complex just tosses those centuries of loving pseudo-daughterhood out the window based on a couple of sentences uttered by the man she profoundly distrusts and generally hates with the white-hot intensity of a thousand suns.

side note: Craven is a man who started this flick wearing a sparkly, pointed-collared shirt, which did not do much to bolster his carefully cultivated "bad-assed" reputation. perhaps it was that very shirt that first prompted Selene to question the tales of his valor. this would not be surprising or unreasonable, but if this was the case, then it ought to have been addressed.

The Miscellaneous
* i really enjoyed the music--the soundtrack is worth picking up. i think the selections worked nicely in the film and they sound great on their own; but prepare to be surprised by how mellow most of the tracks are.
* Craven. what the hell? i mean, i get it, but some token effort of subtlety would have been good.
* i liked the running dichotomy (laid on so thick it was very nearly an obvious joke) of the "cats vs. dogs" theme. the vampires are slick, efficient predators who lounge in lazy decadence when not in "hunt" mode; and the werewolves behave like "rabid dogs"--as described by their own leader. this was a nice touch, one that was particularly effective because the vampires are not so decadent that they are weak, and the werewolves are not so wild that they are stupid.

The Conclusion
all in all, i'm glad i saw Underworld and i'm glad that it was made--despite its sometimes glaring flaws.



* choose "gospel." we'll both be happier that way.

Comments

neo_prodigy
Sep. 20th, 2003 05:33 pm (UTC)
Underworld
I saw the flick last night as well and I totally agree with what you said.

The only thing that was fairly clever was the twist about Lucien and his relationship with Victor's daughter Sonya.

They left an opening for a sequel. I wonder if there will be an Underworld 2?
cmpriest
Sep. 20th, 2003 06:05 pm (UTC)
Re: Underworld
i hear that another movie or two is in the works.
i'll catch the next one too, probably.
it really was a pleasant enough way to pass a couple of hours.

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