Review Date: September 26, 2003
Director: Len Wiseman
Writer: Danny McBride
Producers: Gary Lucchesi, Tom Rosenberg, Richard Wright
Werewolves and vampires have been trying to kill (and look cooler than) one another for thousands of years and the time seems to have come for Dracula's descendants to finish up what's left of the wolfpack. But those darn mangy human-dog-beasts aren't ready to go down without a fight and appear to have an ace up their hairy sleeves in the form of a human named Michael. The vamps pick up on this scent and the race is on to get this guy and to use him for their respective cause.
I like dark movies. I like vampire movies. I like action movies. And I like hot chicks in black leather running around shooting shit up. Combine all that with wicked style, a half-decent story about a war that's been raging between the bloodsuckers and werewolves for thousands of years and you've got yourself a pretty damn decent time at the movies, if a little too long. Having heard mediocre word of mouth on this film, I went in expecting an "all MTV" production with very little substance or meaning. Surprised was I to find myself somewhat interested in the film's goings-on, even when the action extravaganza stopped pumping bullets into my brain at a million miles an hour during its less exciting, mid-section. I actually liked the whole back-story about the ongoing warfare between these mutant folk, I liked how one person's perception was one way and another's was completely different. I like how they stuck the "race" card into the affair and how loyalty, love and redemption all played roles as well. That's not to suggest that this is some deep, psychologically involved vampo-drama, because it's definitely a highly-stylized, Gothic, ass-kick fest first and foremost, but there's a story in here too, and I for one, was actually taken by it, even when all of the leather-clad bullet-time fun subsided. Add the engaging storyline to the blow-out action sequences, one of which starts the film off with a bang and another which draws things to a close really well (loved the "slice"), plenty of cool make-up and transformation sequences (yes, the shots inside the bodies rocked), a hot chick in black leather strutting around looking sweet, a wickedly cool, dark, rainy look throughout, as well as a couple of fun additions to the lore (bullets that drip silver directly into your bloodstream...nice!), and you've got yourself the making of an all-out entertaining vamp flick.
Does the film have problems? Yup. I'm not sure why anyone in their right mind ever tossed the words "Romeo" and "Juliet" around when discussing this film, but for me, there was really zero chemistry or love demonstrated between Beckinsale and Speedman (despite a wonderful showing by his bangs) Furthermore, other than the lead cats, pretty much everyone else on either team looked, and felt, like extras being paid $20/hour to stand around in black leather coats and "look evil". Most of them failed and it even became difficult to tell the vamps and wolves apart at some points. The film also ran a little too long, the dude who played Kraven wasn't up to snuff, but thankfully, the actor who played Lucian-- aka Michael Sheen aka the father of Beckinsale's daughter who she unceremoniously dumped for the director of this film-- was about as charismatically evil as one could get, and was aided by an icy cool performance by his nemesis Viktor. You can't talk about this film without discussing its "look" either, and being as this was supposed to be the "underworld" (where the heck were all the humans through all this, incidentally...don't you guys hear all the ruckus??), a tremendous hand should go out to the cinematographer, as well as the entire art and set design teams, all of whom performed wonders with only $20 million in budget. I also appreciated the film's open-ended conclusion (to be expected, since they've already agreed to shoot two more of these puppies) as well as its soundtrack, which kept up with the mood of the entire piece. Could I have done without Beckinsale constantly walking through large rooms and pushing grand doors wide open? Sure, but I didn't take it all too seriously and for what I got in return, which was a 2-hour genre ride through the depths of an ongoing war between vampires and werewolves, I was quite satisfied as I peeled myself off my seat by the end.
(c) 2014 Berge Garabedian