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  • compiled by Jeffrey Overstreet Copyright Christianity Today International
  • 2003 1 Jan
from Film Forum, 09/25/03


Kate Beckinsale made an impression on audiences several years ago in Kenneth Branagh's Much Ado About Nothing, playing the part of Hero. She went on to critical acclaim for her work in The Last Days of Disco and Cold Comfort Farm before stumbling unfortunately into Michael Bay's Pearl Harbor. This week she's back as a different sort of hero in Underworld. Beckinsale plays Selene, a beautiful vampire caught up in a war against werewolves. Her allegiance to the vampires is tested when she loses her heart (no, not literally) to Michael (Scott Speedman), a not-so-warlike werewolf.

Religious press critics are not usually impressed by werewolves and vampires. But this film has scored with audiences and become the week's box office champion, so this time … well, no, the critics are still not impressed.

Michael Medved (Crosswalk) calls it "stylish, slick, lavishly atmospheric, surprisingly well acted, competently plotted—and a complete waste of talent and time. The convoluted story line … seems impenetrably confusing at first, but slowly comes together to make as much sense as vampire/werewolf plots normally do."

"We don't really care about these creatures," says Michael Elliott (Movie Parables). "The movie is reduced to watching unappealing beings attacking each other with unmerciful zeal."

David DiCerto (CNS) nicknames it "West Side Gory. The story loses its bite midway through, unraveling into a tedious series of graphically violent clashes leading to the film's mind-numbing climactic mother-of-all rumbles; think Democrats and Republicans with fangs."

Jerry Langford (Movieguide) says the fantasy elements didn't offend him because it "manages to avoid the typical occult trappings often found in movies of this kind. It is clearly fantasy and is content to dwell there." (In other words, this is safe, but Harry Potter is still a threat.)