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An immortal battle for supremacy.  

Year: 2003 
Running Time:
Aspect Ratio: 2.39:1 (Scope) 
Certificate: BBFC 15 Cert – Not suitable for under 15s 
Subtitles: The level of subtitling in this film is unknown to WSC 
Directed by Unknown 
Starring: Unknown  
An image from Underworld

There is a centuries old war going on between vampires and lycans (not fungus but werewolves) of which humans have been oblivious. The vampires have been the champions of this war for years, and have grown weak. When the werewolves start inexplicably hunting down one man, Michael Corvin (Scott Speedman), only one vampire called Selene is curious to find out why.  Selene (Kate Beckinsale) goes against the wishes of her clan leader Kraven (Shane Brolly) when she rescues Corvin and brings him to the vampire mansion. Kraven orders Corvin to be killed, but he escapes with the help of Selene. Doubting the honesty of Kraven's rule Selene raises an ancient vampire leader, Viktor (Bill Nighy) and convinces him of the danger. A few gory battles and plot twists commence and you're left wondering who the good guys are.

Underworld is a very stylish film, the effects, costumes and sets all fit in perfectly with its dark atmosphere. This remains true even down to some of the werewolves that are entirely computer generated, yet still scary. There are some Matrixy style gunplay elements and a great falling sequence at the beginning. Be warned, this is quite a gruesome film with a lot of blood and innards becoming outards.

Kate Beckinsale looks great as Selene, but doesn't quite pull off the lines to seem like the tough vampire "Deathdealer" that she is supposed to be. Bill Nighy plays a genuinely terrifying Viktor, while all the other vampires seem a bit too casual for blood sucking reanimated corpses.  

The plot of vampires vs. werewolves may sound like scraping the barrel for storylines, but Underworld is kept interesting by the many plot twists, which really build up the intensity of the final battle.

Underworld ends with the subtle smell of a sequel, though unlike some other films this doesn't ruin the ending. Sure enough Underworld 2 is in production, but by the end of this first film there is enough story and characterisation to make you want to find out what happens next. Go see.

Nick Grills

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Screenings of this film:

2003/2004 Spring Term (35mm)
2003/2004 Spring Term (35mm)