Looking Back At UNDERWORLD (2003) - Warped Factor - Words in the Key of Geek.

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Looking Back At UNDERWORLD (2003)

In the dark alleys of early 2000s cinema, a unique marriage of vampire and werewolf lore emerged, forever changing the landscape of supernatural thrillers. "Underworld," released in 2003, brought together two of the most iconic creatures of the night, blending their mythologies into an action-packed cinematic spectacle. In this retrospective, we dive deep into the gloomy realms of "Underworld" to explore its origins, its storyline, and its lasting legacy in the world of supernatural films.

"Underworld" is primarily a tale of forbidden love amidst a war that spans centuries. The film's protagonist, Selene, portrayed by the indomitable Kate Beckinsale, is a vampire "Death Dealer" who is determined to wipe out the werewolves, also known as Lycans. However, her convictions waver when she falls in love with a human, Michael, played by Scott Speedman, who is targeted by the Lycans. This Romeo-and-Juliet-like setup – lovers from opposing factions – had been explored in movies before but never with such a dark, gothic spin.

Behind the scenes, the movie emerged from the vision of its director, Len Wiseman, and its writers, Kevin Grevioux, Danny McBride, and Wiseman himself. Their collaborative effort was a major factor in bringing together the intricate world-building and action sequences that "Underworld" is known for. The set design, costumes, and overall aesthetic were inspired by film noir and, to some extent, gothic literature, giving "Underworld" a distinctly moody and atmospheric presence on screen. This can be juxtaposed with movies like "Blade," which also explored the dark vampire underworld, but with a more modern and sleek design.

The casting of Beckinsale was a turning point for the actress. While she had taken on various roles in the past, it was Selene, with her signature leather bodysuit and dual-wielding pistols, that truly solidified her position as an action heroine. The role demanded not only dramatic depth but also intense physical training, to which Beckinsale rose magnificently. The film also featured Bill Nighy in a memorable role as Viktor, the elder vampire, showcasing his versatility as an actor, from comedy to dark fantasy.

Premiering on September 19, 2003, "Underworld" quickly captured audiences' imaginations. Its US release raked in a considerable $51.5 million, with its global box office figures landing at approximately $95.7 million. These numbers, while impressive, do not truly capture the film's impact on popular culture.

Its real influence lies in the waves it created in supernatural cinema. "Underworld" opened the floodgates for a series of sequels and spin-offs, making it a cornerstone franchise in the vampire-werewolf genre. Its blend of action, horror, and romance set the stage for other cinematic ventures that explored similar themes, most notably the "Twilight" series. While "Twilight" catered to a more youthful audience with its romantic storyline, its essence of forbidden love amidst supernatural beings can trace its roots back to "Underworld."

However, what sets "Underworld" apart from other similar films is its relentless commitment to its dark tone. Movies like "Van Helsing," while exploring the world of monsters, veer more towards adventure. "Underworld," on the other hand, delves deep into the politics, betrayals, and intricate histories of its beings, making it a more immersive experience for the viewer. This commitment is further reflected in its detailed lore, spanning several sequels and creating a comprehensive universe that fans have grown to love.

In addition to its storytelling prowess, "Underworld" also pushed the boundaries of special effects and makeup. The transformation sequences, particularly of the Lycans, were a marvel at the time and set a benchmark for other films in the genre. Its synthesis of practical effects and CGI paved the way for more realistic and grounded supernatural transformations in future films.

Reflecting on its legacy, "Underworld" stands tall as a beacon of dark fantasy cinema. It not only resurrected the interest in vampire and werewolf mythologies but did so with a style and flair that few films have matched. Its intricate world-building, combined with stellar performances, make it a standout in a sea of supernatural films. While many movies have explored the realms of these night creatures, "Underworld" approached it with a unique blend of action, drama, and romance, creating an unforgettable cinematic experience.

In conclusion, as the fog lifts from the dimly lit streets of "Underworld," its legacy remains stronger than ever. The film not only gave us an iconic action heroine in Selene but also redefined the vampire-werewolf genre. It serves as a testament to the power of innovative storytelling, reminding us that even in the darkest of tales, there's always a glimmer of hope, love, and redemption.

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