[box cover]

Underworld: Unrated Extended Cut

For a thousand years, a war has been raging between the vampires and lycans (aka, werewolves) because the vampires feel themselves superior and wish to wipe the wolves off the face of the earth. A blow was struck by Kraven (Shane Brolly) when he killed lead lycan Lucian (Michael Sheen), but all is not what it seems for "death dealer" (aka, lycan-hunter) Selene (Kate Beckinsale) — she finds that the wolves are on the hunt for a human, which has never been a part of their modus operandi. This human is Michael Corvin (Scott Speedman), whose bloodline goes back to the first immortal, and who gets bitten by the supposedly dead Lucian. In response to her confusion, Selene awakes Viktor (Bill Nighy) the immortal who trained her, and whom she hopes to get some answers from. But it seems everyone has secrets — especially Selene's beloved Viktor. Underworld (2003) has an interesting premise that's a great hook for a movie (werewolves vs. vampires), and perhaps another film will make use of it someday, since this one never really exploits it. Actually, only the werewolves have real supernatural powers as they turn back and forth, while the vampires can see themselves in mirrors, and can't fly — however they can jump from tall buildings and land without hurting themselves. Only the sunlight seems to be an obstacle for them, which is why the story takes place totally at night, allowing for the film's creepy gothic look. As a mystery, Underworld seems too busy trying to get the goth look right (which admittedly, it does) to ever make the plot involving. In fact, there seems to be some sense that a romance is to develop between Michael and Selene (which is twinned in a flashback to why the war started), but the two never generate an ounce of attraction for each other; their involvement seems nothing more than an overdone plot-point. The film does look neat with its blue-gray color schema, and some of the action sequences make good use of the tricks learned from The Matrix series, but too much effort is spent trying to figure out the mechanics of why everybody's doing what they're doing — which holds all the interest of listening to people argue over which 20-sided die to use. Beckinsale looks fetching in leather and cuts a steely, ass-kicking figure, but the script doesn't do her any favors by trying so hard to be hard-boiled and evocative — everything she (and pretty much everyone else) says sounds overly belabored. As the film closes it sets up a sequel, and if it does come to pass, hopefully everyone involved will learn from the mistakes they made on the first. A double-dip, Columbia TriStar presents their two-disc Underworld: Unrated Extended Cut in anamorphic widescreen (2.35:1) and Dolby Digital 5.1 audio, in a version that's distinct by 23 minutes (running 132 minutes, it's 13 minutes longer than the theatrical version). This edition solves some of the movie's logic problems, but doesn't make the film that much more entertaining. The initial dip included two audio commentaries not included here, so fans may wish to keep both, while this one includes a fairly entertaining yack-track with director Len Wiseman, and stars Scott Speedman and Kate Beckinsale. Disc One offers the documentary "Fangs vs. Fiction," (47 min.) which loosely ties modern myth research into the film proper. Also on the first disc are outtakes (4 min.) and TV spots and trailers for this and other genre features. On Disc Two are seven featurettes, which thankfully have a "play all" option: "The Making of Underworld," (13 min.) "The Visual Effects of Underworld," (10 min.) "Creature Effects,"(13 min.) "Stunts," (12 min.) "Designing Underworld," (11 min.) "The Look of Underworld," (19 min.) and "Sights and Sounds" (9 min.). Rounding out Disc Two is a storyboard comparison (7 min.) and a music video. And with the discs comes a comic book and a production sketch booklet. Dual-DVD slimline keep-case with plastic slipcase.
—DSH



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