Underworld micro-review

I liked Underworld. It was not great, but it was good looking, full of teh hotness, and had an unexpectedly twisty and detailed backstory. I'd say it had a more interesting plot than Blade, but less good acting.

The thousand-round pistols were irritating, especially when they made a point of showing you the ~10 round clip.

Have you heard about the lawsuit? It's comical. (White Wolf Sues Sony: "We Ripped Off Anne Rice First!") I've read a few of Nancy Collins's books, and they were fun, but seriously derivative of every previous vampire story that tried to be "edgy" and "modern." Dear Nancy, stop believing your sycophants, kthx.

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23 Responses:

  1. Any writer whose resume contains the word "goth" is probably not going to be very innovative. (See also: Poppy Z. Brite, Caitlin Kiernan, and indeed much of DC's Vertigo stable.)

  2. greyface says:

    First off, I agree with your review pretty much exactly, except that these days I'm pretty good at ignoring anything bullet count related (not that you particularly care.

    However, it's worth noting, that from White Wolf's official legal complaint it seems that there is actually a reasonable issue to be addressed. But then again, lawyers wrote that complaint for just such a purpose.

    My view:
    About 1/3 of the complaint is "This is our theme you jerks, we're supposed milk it, even though we assembled it out of all sorts of other stuff floating around"
    Another 1/3 is actually reasonable, in that it seems that the Nancy Collins story in question is more similar to Underworld than you'd expect if two random people both said, "Okay, Goth-Punk Vampires & Werewolves make a Romeo & Juliet."
    The last 1/3 is the claim that they deserve reparations for some huge number of books, which, except for the N. Collins story in question, is ludicrous.

    If you'd like to read it yourself...
    in pdf

    • It's a silly complaint. I had a hard time finding anything in the list that isn't vampire/werewolf lore you can find in dozens of places, or an obvious idea generated from the question, "What if vampires and werewolves were enemies?" Before seeing the movie, I thought there were maybe 5 things in the list that might not be coincidence. After seeing the movie, it's gotten closer to zero.

      I suppose I should go read the short story by Nancy Collins before pronouncing judgment, but the cynic in me suspects the lawsuit is mainly a publicity stunt, so I'm going to pretend it's already been settled out of court, and ignore it.

  3. 33mhz says:

    There was a Penny Arcade comic on this very topic just a while back.

  4. kiad says:

    My favourite aspect of all these edgy-fantasy movies is the fashion, the vision and the gear. I never notice the story. I must be a gadget head.

  5. doubleyou says:

    I found your journal through a friend (<lj user="padmaclynne">). I know of you from "xscreensaver" fame (thanks for that, by the way), and was rather surprised to find you by chance in LiveJournal land. I hope you don't mind that I've added you.

    PS: My apologies for the double-email. I screwed-up a tag the first time.

  6. kallisti says:

    Underworld was definitly in the top half of the vampire movies out there..up there with Innocent Blood, The Lost Boys and the original Buffy. IMOHO, of course. It seems that vampires and fetish wear go hand in hand, and that is where both the Matrix and Underworld borrowed liberaly. I also noticed that many of the costumes were reminiscent of Lynch's DUNE, and I could almost swear I saw one charactor wearing a stillsuit!

    As for Nancy Collins, I enjoyed her first couple of books, and the gratutious Hawkwind T-Shirt sighting in the first one...And I enjoyed them more than any Anne Rice books. Anne Rice is a nice lady in person, but I can't get very far into her books, and have only been able to finish two or three of them. As for similarities between the Sonja Blue books and Undeworld...they both draw from "Prior Art". Now, if they started calling both the vampires and weres "Pretenders" in the movie and such...then there might have been a case...but I think it is more about publicity than copyright infringment...something SCO seems to be doing well with.

    • jabberwokky says:

      It is a very specific novella that they claim the dialogue and scene for scene plot is taken from. Every character does line up one to one, but then, they are both retellings of the Romeo and Juliet story. I've not seen the movie, so I can't comment. But White Wolf's allegations are very very specific, not generalization or "genre" issues.

      If you read the filing, be aware that such court documents go from 'general' to 'specific', i.e., point 1 is "both are about Vampires", and so on, down to points in the 40s where you get things like 'The specific term used for a embraced werewolf in both is "abomination"' and then on to character and scene comparisons.

      Haven't seen the movie, won't comment if they are *valid* points or not, just that they are specific points.

      • I don't see how it was a retelling of Romeo and Juliet. The romantic leads both survive, there are no real points of similarity in the storyline, and "Romeo" doesn't even start off as a werewolf.

        It seemed more like an allegory of the uneasy relationship between goths and metallers in the late 80s and early 90s. The goths get lazy, forget their punk roots and start organising renaissance fairs, the metallers get increasingly skanky and body conscious, and the ultimate fusion of the two looks very like your man out of Limp Biskit who played the guitar and wore all the body makeup (and is referred to as an abomination).

  7. ex_sjc says:

    If Harlan Ellison can win his case against James Cameron for Terminator, anything is possible.

    And does an author of Gothy genre fiction really have sycophants?

  8. nivekogre says:

    i'm far from being an uber Vamp geek... but a couple of times the vamps in the movie cast reflections.. now, what's up with that? also, the movie would have been 10 times better if the female lead showed more flesh. and a really harsh review brought up a good point... that the vamps and the wolves look a lot alike, so there are times when you can't tell who is who.

    • waider says:

      Apparently this was a concious decision by one of the writers (the black guy who plays a werewolf) because he couldn't get his head around why a vampire shouldn't cast a reflection or some such. Apparently he was okay with a vampire leaping backwards to the ceiling and staying there with no visible means of support, plus the whole "keeping centuries-old vampires in storage" routine, so I've no idea what his point was supposed to be.

      • jwz says:

        Well, these were "viral vampires", not "magical vampires". The mirrors thing is hard to justify, but you can kinda-sorta imagine biological mechanisms for the others.

  9. merovingian says:

    My condolences for having read White Wolf game-setting fiction.

  10. dzm6 says:

    Steven Notley (of 'Bob the Angry Flower' fame) reviews Underworld here.

    Spiffy excerpts:

    Underworld, on a basic level, delivers what the trailers promise. That is, the trailers suggest some kind of war between vampires and werewolves duking it Matrix-style except tinted blue instead of green. You want to see vampires blasting away at werewolves? You'll see it. Wanna see werewolves doggin' it down dark hallways while getting blasted away at? No shortage. Wanna see Kate Beckinsale shoot holes in floors and jump around all crazy-like in a skintight leather vampire outfit? Then you'd better see Underworld, because it's pretty unlikely you'll see her do it anywhere else.

    On the other hand, if you want to actually care about or even follow what's going on, then maybe Underworld isn't your best bet.


    If you just want to see shooting and don't care if you care, you might like Underworld. If you're a gothy vampire enthusiast, you might be able to get into some of the made-up history and vampire society stuff. And, if you're a regular person, I'm not sure, but I'm guessing you'd probably be a bit bored until the last 20 minutes or so. It's your call.