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Underworld (2003)

Commentaries on this disc:

Commentary 1: Director Len Wiseman and screenwriters Danny McBride and Kevin Grevioux Rating:3.8/10 (5 votes) [graph]Login to vote or review
Reviewed by Brian Thibodeau on May 7th, 2004:Find all reviews by Brian Thibodeau
Commentaries by first-timers are always best when the first-timer has created some truly groundbreaking piece of cinema and not simply altered existing formulas into something new-ish. Those who fall into the latter category are at their best if they maintain some amount of humility, which, thankfully, the three first-timers on this track are able to do before they inevitably devolve into the usual third-act rounds of spotting continuity errors (tolerable), praising production details (sycophantic), repeating the odd bit of dialogue (killing time), narrating (unnecessary) and pouring out fawning thank-you's to their comrades over the closing credits - all the things that plague so many commentators on DVDs of high-concept movies that lack any serious depth, as UNDERWORLD unfortunately does.

That said, this generally-consistent track, by three admitted comic-book geeks is thus largely of interest for production details, since many of the FX tricks they point out are fairly obvious in this enlightened age: the film cost $23 million ($16 million after the paycheques), the subway set that opens the film was actually constructed AROUND a decommissioned subway train in an old trainyard, Kate Beckinsale can't drive (despite appearances in the film). Director Wiseman reveals scenes are missing that will reappear in the inevitable special edition, which may dismay those who don't like to double dip.

All three admit the decision to use a science-based approach, as opposed to rooting their story in the traditional paranormal lore, was intentional, and indeed it's one of the film's strengths that "the curse" is treated more like a blood disease than any mystical perversion of nature. Gireoux (who co-wrote the story and plays Raze) draws the allegory, in case you missed it, of an interracial romance set within a race war, another of the films strengths, although hardly an original concept even in fantasy cinema.
Commentary 2: Visual effects supervisor James McQuade, creature designer Patrick Tatopoulous, and sound designer Claude Letessier Rating:3.8/10 (4 votes) [graph]Login to vote or review