Wednesday, July 06, 2005

 

Underoos

posted by Corey Reid

If you watched the original release of Underworld and didn't like it quite as much as you wanted to, you ought to track down and check out the new extended version. It's a markedly better film, although the last act still falls apart.

Still, vampires, werewolves and Kate Beckinsale's shiny bottom. Underworld gets forgiven all its flaws.

Thing is, this movie wears its "meaning" so boldly on its sleeve there's not really much to comment on, is there? Yeah, yeah, we all need to get along better, yeah, yeah, lying is bad, yeah, yeah, arrogant old spuds need to get their clocks cleaned by svelte young things in skintight leather. With swords.

But heck, I found things to say about frickin' Ninja Scroll, surely I can manage to blather on about Underworld for a while.

There's no doubt that I have a bit of a thing for steely-eyed women dealing retributive mayhem. Ripley, Xena, Beatrice, there's a long line of these gals on our DVD shelf, and I'm a sucker for it everytime. Probably best not to delve too deeply into the reasons why, but the really successful stories of this type are the ones that manage to maintain the character as a believable woman while still giving her stomp-down ass-kickability. Ripley and Beatrice were both excellent demonstrations of that. Xena was for two seasons at least (maybe two and a half).

And now Selene. Steph pointed out that Selene's journey is to give in to the emotion she's feeling for Michael, and THAT'S what gives her the ruthlessness she needs to carve a space for herself free of Victor's oppressive influence. As long as she keeps herself repressed, as long as she refuses to let her natural, "human" emotions to rise up within her, she can never break free of the hold her elder has over her. It's only once she begins acting to manifest the love she's acquired for pretty-boy Michael that she can gain her true independence.

Love leads to ruthless, gory, redemptive violence. It's almost Shakespearean.

Underworld nearly collapses in on itself as it lurches towards its over-blown climax, but the final moment has a certain lovely poetry. Selene is ultimately forced to chose between her boyfriend and her father, and she makes the choice that Western society has been telling us for a long time is the right one: she chooses the relationship she found, rather than the one that was given to her.

And in the moment she does so, Selene soars into the air in one of the most graceful shots in the whole picture. Released from the restricting bonds of obligation and opression, our heroine becomes gravity-free. In skintight leather.

With a sword.

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