Evan's Eyes


For those who may have been confused by the previews, the vampires aren't battling "lichens," which are symbiotic growths of algae and fungus often found on rocks, they're "Lycans," short for "lycanthropes," the technical term for werewolves (I don't think anyone has ever made a "Vampires vs. Lichens" movie). The story is simple: Vampires fight werewolves in ancient blood feud, sort of the Hatfields and McCoys of the otherworldly set. With my experience writing a supernatural-advice column, I knew I was destined to review this cinematic treatment of this conflict. "Who better?" I thought. "This is going to be great!" And just like most of my stock market predictions, I was wrong.

To be fair, the story, art direction, and even individual scenes were really good when we first saw them several movies ago. In case you missed the point of this backhanded compliment: virtually every aspect of this film feels borrowed from other, and usually better, films. I suppose this is appropriate for the theme, since vampires and werewolves feed off others to exist. While this may be a successful strategy for being an immortal, it doesn't make the best cinema.

One of the first things I noticed was how cranky everybody was. Kate Beckinsale always has the annoyed look of someone forced to wear a polyvinyl fetish outfit. I don't think this was an acting choice as much as reaction to her costume. Maybe these vampires wouldn't fight so much if they wore comfortable clothing. Of course, most of the vampires did nothing but hang out in a gothic mansion wearing black and looking pretty. That's all they do. Obviously, they've only chosen attractive people to become vampires, which makes sense. I mean, if you're a vampire selecting who you're going to hang around with for centuries, you might as well select people you want to look at, right?

Maybe their attitude problems come from their environments. The werewolves' home decorator has selected the gloomy "Apocalyptic Industrial" style, ranging from sewer tunnels to a partially-demolished warehouse. The vampire style is seriously Gothic, all in black, gray, and cold blues. Sure, it all looks really cool, but after living in a Lovecraftian bunker for a few hundred years, everybody's a bit wigged out. Most of the communication is done by shouting, like one big, undead dysfunctional family.

Not to give the impression that this is a horrible movie, it's just not a great one. Those who like loud gunfights, creepy werewolf transformations, familiar plot devices and a few liberties with vampire mythology will be entertained. Movie buffs can amuse themselves by spotting the elements lifted from other films. One point for each, scores over 100 are quite possible.

I really wish I had liked this movie more, since the blatant loose threads at the end indicate that "Underworld" is destined to rise again as a sequel, if the crusading Slayer of poor box-office receipts doesn't drive the wooden stake of movie-studio rejection through its heart.

If you liked the movies below, you'll probably like this one (and visa versa):

  • Blade
  • Spawn
  • Resident Evil
  • Dog Soldiers
Overall Rating: 4 (where 1=Worthless, 10=Fabulous)

Eight-Facet Info Rating, rated on a scale of 0 (None) to 4 (Lots!)):

Humor: 0
Nudity: 0
Sexual Reference: 0
Sexual Activity: 0
Action: 4
Gore: 3
Violence: 3
Profanity: 1


© 2003 Evan M. Nichols