Imagine West Side Story with vampires and lycans (wolfmen) instead of Sharks and Jets and guns, blades, and teeth piercing necks instead of musical numbers, then dress them all in Matrix-inspired goth-bondage attire and you’ll have “Underworld,” a pulpy, punk-ish story filled with runes and ruins.
This is the kind of movie where characters with names like Craven say things like “But what about the Covenant?” and the exposition explanation begins in the 5th century, dust is blown from the cover of weighty medieval tomes, and huge heavy chains hang down for no particular reason.
The action begins before we know which side we’re on, with a stylish subway shoot-out. It turns out that there has been a centuries-long war between the vampires and the lycan. Now the lycan are very interested in a human doctor named Michael (Scott Speedman) and the vampires want to know why.
Michael is rescued by Selene (Kate Beckinsale), and he rescues her in return. She is ordered to kill him. But he did save her life. And he is kind of cute. And you can tell they are meant for each other because while everyone else in the movie has slicked-back hair, Michael’s and Selene’s hair falls adorably over their eyes.
If this movie doesn’t quite rise to the category of silly fun, it is a tolerable comic book-style time-waster with some stylistic flair and some energetic action sequences.
Parents should know that the movie has extensive and graphic violence. There is a reference to “misegenation” and adulteration of bloodlines. Characters drink and smoke and use strong language.
Families who see this movie should talk about how centuries-old conflicts can be resolved in a way that feels fair to all sides.
Families who enjoy this movie will also enjoy The Matrix and Blade.