An ‘Underworld’ Appreciation
For my next 31 Films of Halloween, I want to honor the Underworld series. Selene (played by Kate Beckinsale) is my favorite badass, leather-wearing vampire woman in a 5-film series. The Underworld series definitely gets a bad rep, and sometimes it’s understandably why. It’s the only film series (besides Star Wars) where bullets never seem to land. And there is more emphasis placed on the aesthetics (hotness) of the film rather than the actually story-telling. Nonetheless, I love this film franchise!
Selene is a vampire- a very beloved vampire- who hunts lycans in a centuries-long war. Her fateful meeting of Michael Corvin (Scott Speedman) changes the course of vampires and lycans alike. The leather, emo aesthetic of this entire film franchise just works for me. That blue-tinged filter over every film? Yum! I love the classy, refined look of the vampires and the rugged look of the werewolves. I love how Selene and Michael fall in love literally hours after meeting. I think the backstory is unique and tells a good tale. I have a deep appreciation for these films, and I love to re-watch them year round! So please, enjoy my random little appreciation post for Selene and the Underworld franchise.
1. Rise of the Lycans (2009); Dir. Patrick Tatopoulos
It’s technically not the first film made, but it is the first film in the chronological order of storytelling. Lucian (Michael Sheen), the first born lycan, is a slave to the vampires. Him and the other lycans serve as daylight protectors while the vampires slumber until nightfall. It’s an already doomed relationship, because as we all know, the down-trodden never stay down forever, and they always rise up against their oppressors. An even more doomed relationship is between Lucian and the vampire princess, Selene (Rhona Mitra.) Their love is forbidden, which makes it all the more interesting and destined for failure. I enjoy re-watching this film the most. It’s full of sexy aesthetics, and Michael Sheen somehow looks really good! The forbidden-love trope is nothing new, but it’s done so well how can you not love it? And if there is one thing I truly adore more than anything about the Underworld franchise, it’s the practical effects and design. The lycans are so unique to the style of the films. Who doesn’t love to watch a good uprising? Definitely one of my favorites of the franchise.
2. Underworld (2003); Dir. Len Wiseman
The OG film- the birth of a bad bitch as sleek and cool as Selene. I definitely watched this film way before I should have (age-wise.) It was my mom’s favorite movie for a long time; therefore, I have a strong bond with this film. This, and the likes of Dawn of the Dead and many other zombie movies, is what sparked my insatiable thirst for horror films. I consider this installment of the franchise one of my comfort films, actually. Centuries into a war sparked in Rise of the Lycans, we are now in present day, and Selene is a vampire who lives to serve her king and kill lycans. Until she meets Michael Corvin (Scott Speedman) she doesn’t do much else with her life. But they did meet, fatefully, and another forbidden love ensues. It makes absolutely no sense that the two fell in love only hours after meeting, but nonetheless, I eat that shit up! The OG effects and CGI are what make this film unique from the rest. It’s a fresh design, and they’re still working out the kinks. But that’s what makes it better. There’s great action and bullets flying- none that ever hit anyone- and everyone looks like they’ve just walked out of a early 2000s metal music video.
3. Underworld: Evolution (2006); Dir. Len Wiseman
This is where things start to get a little weird, if you ask me. The passion between Michael and Selene continues as they’re on the run. Two rogue creatures madly in love. The lore behind this film is great, but the execution could be better. However, the end fight scene is phenomenal, and they continue to deliver on those practical effects. This one is definitely one of the slower films, but I still enjoy it for all that it is.
4. Underworld: Awakening (2012); Dir. Mans Marlind
Things actually start to pick back up for me in this film. I think others too harshly judge it, rather than just enjoy it for all it’s insanity. After being frozen for 12 years, Selene wakes up to find the entire world at war. This time humans are involved- which makes things a lot less fun. Humans ruin everything. She also wakes up to find that she has a 12 year old daughter from that fling with Michael. Scott Speedman does not make any more appearances as Michael Corvin in the film franchise at this point on. It sucks, but the show much continue. And it does! Not having raised her daughter and having just lost her love, Selene doesn’t know much about being a mother. She’s actually quite bad at it, but the action is awesome, and so is her daughter. I only wish they had shown more of her in later films.
5. Underworld: Blood Wars (2016); Dir. Anna Foerster
Blood Wars (2016) is definitely my least favorite of the franchise. The pacing is much faster and not well put-together. There is a lot cluttered into one film, and Selene’s actions scenes just aren’t as good as before. They put a lot less care into really rounded out the end of our heroine’s storyline. That’s not to say that there isn’t good action, because there is. It’s just that the main character is no longer the most interesting part of the franchise. You do get a lot of Theo James screen time though, and I am never one to complain about that.
This films franchise has it’s holes, but I honestly enjoy it so much. Selene is as legendary as the rest of the horror franchise heroines, and she deserves that recognition!