Underworld (2003 film)

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Underworld
Underworld poster.jpg
Teaser poster
Directed by Len Wiseman
Produced by Tom Rosenberg
Gary Lucchesi
Richard Wright
Screenplay by Danny McBride
Story by Kevin Grevioux
Len Wiseman
Danny McBride
Starring Kate Beckinsale
Scott Speedman
Michael Sheen
Shane Brolly
Erwin Leder
Bill Nighy
Music by Paul Haslinger
Cinematography Tony Pierce-Roberts
Editing by Martin Hunter
Studio Lakeshore Entertainment
Distributed by Screen Gems
Release dates
  • September 19, 2003 (2003-09-19)
Running time 121 minutes
Country United Kingdom
Germany
Hungary
United States
Language English
Budget $22,000,000
Box office $95,708,457

Underworld is a 2003 action horror film directed by Len Wiseman about the secret history of Vampires and Lycans (an abbreviated form of lycanthrope). It is the first (chronologically, the second) installment in the Underworld series. The main plot revolves around Selene (Kate Beckinsale), a vampire who is a Death Dealer hunting Lycans. She finds herself attracted to a human, Michael Corvin (Scott Speedman), who is being targeted by the Lycans. After Michael is bitten by a Lycan, Selene must decide whether to do her duty and kill him or go against her clan and save him.

While reviewers generally received the film negatively, criticizing the overacting and lack of character development, a smaller number of reviewers praised elements such as the film's stylish Gothic visuals, the "icy English composure" in Kate Beckinsale's performance, and the extensively worked-out vampire–werewolf mythology that serves as the film's backstory.

Plot[edit]

For generations, a secret war has raged between vampires and Lycans, an ancient species of werewolf. Selene, a vampire belonging to the Death Dealers, a group specialized in assassinating Lycans, tracks two Lycans. Selene's motivation goes beyond duty; she also wants revenge because, about 600 years ago, Lycans slaughtered her family when she was a child. The vampires believe they defeated the werewolves many centuries ago and killed their leader, Lucian, and that they must kill the surviving Lycans. Selene locates the Lycans' den and learns that they have developed a new kind of bullet capable of killing the vampires.

Later, Selene arrives at the mansion of the vampire coven to which she belongs and, recounting these events, urges an attack on the Lycans, but the vampire regent, Kraven, dismisses her proposal. Selene determines that the pair of Lycans may have been following a human, Michael Corvin, and continues her investigation. In a Lycan lair, a scientist named Singe tests blood from kidnapped descendants of the ancient Corvinus family, trying to find a pure source of the ancient and powerful Corvinus bloodline. Soon after Selene finds Michael, the pair is attacked by Lycans, including Lucian; Lucian bites Michael, but Selene helps Michael escape and the two become attracted to each other.

Selene discovers that Kraven was the only witness to Lucian's supposed death. Sensing a conspiracy, she wakes a dormant powerful elder vampire, Viktor, who has been hibernating. Viktor is angered by his early awakening, as it was Marcus' turn to rule the coven. Viktor believes Kraven and orders Selene to acquiesce to the vampire hierarchy. Kraven has secretly planned to kill a vampire elder, Amelia, and her companions, with Lucian's help.

Selene informs Michael about the feud and her past. She then binds him, fearing that he will kill innocent people after he changes into his Lycan form at the coming night's full moon. Selene captures Singe while Michael is captured by Lycans. Selene returns to the mansion with Singe, who admits to Viktor that the Lycans are trying to combine the bloodlines of the two species with the Corvinus Strain to create a powerful hybrid. After Kraven flees the mansion because Singe has revealed his cooperation with Lucian, news arrives that Amelia, who was coming to awaken Marcus, has been killed by Lycans. Viktor kills Singe and tasks Selene to kill Michael.

While Michael is being held captive, he learns from Lucian that Viktor's daughter, Sonja, and Lucian were lovers. Lucian tells Michael that the Lycans were slaves to the vampires. When Viktor learned that his daughter had been impregnated by a Lycan, he killed her to prevent any crossing of the two species, which led to the war. Such a crossing would create a hybrid creature that would be more powerful than both the vampires and Lycans, according to Lucian.

Selene arrives with a group of Death Dealers to kill the Lycans and Kraven for his treachery. Kraven shoots Lucian with a newly designed bullet intended to kill by poisoning a Lycan's bloodstream. Selene rescues Michael who is shot by Kraven. Kraven tells Selene it was Viktor who killed her family. Lucian injures Kraven and convinces Selene to bite Michael, transmitting the vampire virus into his bloodstream. Selene complies and Kraven flees after killing Lucian. Viktor arrives and admits that he killed Selene's family and reveals the truth of his love for Sonja and that his choice to have her killed was to protect the vampires and that he must also kill Michael to protect the vampires; Selene eventually kills Viktor with the assistance of Michael, who is now a hybrid. Selene and Michael leave the Lycan lair, now enemies of both species. At the mansion, blood from Singe's corpse seeps into the sarcophagus of the remaining Elder, Marcus, a carrier of the original Corvinus Strain.

Cast[edit]

Legal controversy[edit]

The film was the subject of a copyright infringement lawsuit filed by White Wolf, Inc. and Nancy A. Collins claiming the setting was too similar to the Vampire: The Masquerade and Werewolf: The Apocalypse games, both set in the World of Darkness setting, and the Sonja Blue vampire novels. White Wolf filed 17 counts of copyright infringement, and claimed over 80 points of unique similarity between White Wolf's game systems and the movie. White Wolf, Inc. also claimed the script was very similar to a story entitled The Love of Monsters (1994) which they published and was written by Nancy A. Collins.[1][2] In September 2003, a judge granted White Wolf an expedited hearing. The lawsuit ended in a confidential settlement.[3]

Box office and home media[edit]

The film grossed $51,970,690 domestically, and $95,708,457 worldwide.[4] Underworld was released on DVD and VHS from Columbia TriStar Home Entertainment.

Critical reception[edit]

Critics gave Underworld negative reviews. As of January 2012, it has a 31% overall approval rating on film-critics' aggregate site Rotten Tomatoes based on 157 reviews. Roger Ebert said, "This is a movie so paltry in its characters and shallow in its story that the war seems to exist primarily to provide graphic visuals".[5] However, some critics were more favorable: the New York Daily News praised it as being "stylish and cruel, and mightily entertaining for certain covens out there".[6]

Salon reviewer Andrew O'Hehir gave mixed criticism and praise, stating, "[B]y any reasonable standard, this dark vampire epic — all massive overacting, cologne-commercial design and sexy cat suits — sucks". But O'Hehir also remarks that, "...at least it gives a crap", conceding that despite the movie's flaws, the complex vampire-werewolf mythology back-story "has been meticulously worked out".[7]

Sequels and prequel[edit]

A sequel, titled Underworld: Evolution, in which Marcus awakens, was released January 20, 2006. The prequel Underworld: Rise of the Lycans, which gives more detail as to the creation of the Lycan species and Lucian's hatred, was released January 23, 2009. A second sequel, titled Underworld: Awakening, was released on January 20, 2012.

Music[edit]

Soundtrack[edit]

Underworld Soundtrack
Soundtrack album
Released 2003
Genre Industrial rock, alternative rock, post-hardcore, alternative metal
Length 1:07:07
Label Lakeshore
Producer Danny Lohner
Underworld film series soundtrack chronology
Underworld (2003) Underworld: Evolution (2006)
Professional ratings
Review scores
Source Rating
Allmusic 3.5/5 stars[8]

The film's soundtrack was produced by Danny Lohner and distributed via Roadrunner Records. Lohner (born 1970), a bass guitarist, guitarist and keyboardist who has recorded with Nine Inch Nails and Marilyn Manson, contributed several songs to the soundtrack under the pseudonym Renholdër. Lohner included a song by Skinny Puppy, a Canadian industrial band.; a song by The Dillinger Escape Plan, a US band which performs an aggressive, technical style of hardcore punk called mathcore; a song by US alternative rock/post-hardcore band Finch entitled "Worms of the Earth"; a song by The Icarus Line, a band known for its abrasive form of rock music; and Lisa Germano, an American singer/songwriter and multi-instrumentalist who specializes in alternative rock and dream pop.

Music critic Bill Aicher notes that the "soundtrack follow[s] in a similar gothic vein" to the visuals and states that it "does an excellent job setting the dark mood" by using "a veritable who's who in the genre" with an "impressive array of metal, hard rock, industrial, and otherwise gothic-themed tracks".[9] Aicher notes that since "a majority of the selections [are] written, produced, or featuring Lohner, the album retains a sense of cohesion throughout, making it much more a complete product than has generally been the case with similarly-themed products."[9] He states that the "album's highest point" is the song with Maynard James Keenan (from Tool and A Perfect Circle), David Bowie, and guitarist John Frusciante (of the Red Hot Chili Peppers), which is entitled "Bring Me the Disco King" (Lohner Mix); he calls the song "[d]ark, brooding, sad, and twitchy".[9]

Track listing
Track # Song Artist(s) Length
1. "Awakening" The Damning Well (featuring Wes Borland, Richard Patrick, Josh Freese & Danny Lohner) 4:15
2. "Rev. 22:20" Puscifer (featuring Danny Lohner) 4:39
3. "Throwing Punches" Page Hamilton 3:42
4. "Rocket Collecting" Milla Jovovich & Danny Lohner 5:42
5. "Now I Know" Renholdër & Amy Lee 0:57
6. "Bring Me the Disco King" (Danny Lohner Mix) David Bowie (featuring Maynard James Keenan & John Frusciante) 6:06
7. "Optimissed" Skinny Puppy 3:49
8. "Down in the Lab" Renholdër & Amy Lee 1:46
9. "Judith" (Renholdër Mix) A Perfect Circle 4:23
10. "Suicide Note" Johnette Napolitano 5:26
11. "Baby's First Coffin" The Dillinger Escape Plan 4:01
12. "Hover" (Quiet Mix) Trust Company 3:10
13. "Falling Through the Sky" Renholdër 1:01
14. "Weak and Powerless" (Tilling My Grave Mix) A Perfect Circle 3:02
15. "Worms of the Earth" Finch 2:35
16. "From a Shell" Lisa Germano 2:57
17. "Death Dealer's Descent" Renholdër & Amy Lee 0:55
18. "On the Lash" The Icarus Line 4:04
19. "All of This Past" Sarah Bettens 4:28

Score[edit]

Underworld (Original Score)
Film score by Paul Haslinger
Released October 14, 2003
Length 52:20
Label Lakeshore Records
Producer Paul Haslinger and Lustmord
Underworld film series score album chronology
Underworld (2003) Underworld: Evolution (2006)
Underworld (Original Score)
No. Title Length
1. "Introduction"   0:53
2. "The End of an Era (Opening)"   1:31
3. "Death Dealers Deploy"   2:17
4. "Darkness Deep Within"   1:19
5. "Transformation"   1:27
6. "Red Tape" (performed by Agent Provocateur) 4:57
7. "Suspended Memories"   1:59
8. "The Crypt"   0:56
9. "Bloodlines"   5:11
10. "Metamorphosis"   2:24
11. "The End of an Era (Reprise)"   2:33
12. "Anger and Retribution"   3:49
13. "Corvinus"   3:53
14. "Subterrania"   0:58
15. "Fire Falling from the Sky"   2:56
16. "Miserere"   2:49
17. "The Last Stand"   2:33
18. "Eternity and a Day"   4:04
19. "Keep Watch Over the Night"   5:38
Total length:
52:20

References[edit]

External links[edit]