Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Underworld (2003)

Something I forgot to mention in yesterday's post on Underworld: Rise of the Lycans is the final shot, which is basically the opening shot of Underworld laid over with some extremely spoilery dialogue from late in that movie. I don't like that ending for Rise. It's unnecessary to Rise's story and the only thing it accomplishes is reminding the audience that they didn't get to see Selene (Kate Beckinsale). And, if you're being introduced to these films by watching them in chronological order, it spoils a major plot twist in Underworld.

I do understand the desire to sneak Selene in there though. She's a great character and the journey she goes on in Underworld is a fascinating one. I have reservations about the romance between her and Michael (Scott Speedman), but I'm able to get past it if I read their relationship differently than love. There's not enough chemistry between them for me to root for them as a couple, but that wouldn't be a problem if not for their kiss. Other than that, they're just two people whose goals line up temporarily. The kiss suggests that they're developing feelings for each other, but there's a way of watching the movie where Michael represents something for Selene other than love.

As she's starting to question not only herself, but her entire culture, Michael is the one person she knows outside of her society and the long war that's been the center of her entire life. He's the only filter she has as she attempts to see the world in a new way, so of course she latches onto him. Instead of lack of chemistry, we're seeing reserve. Selene never lets herself be seen as vulnerable (except with Viktor) and Michael still doesn't really trust her, so they're not exactly opening up to each other. They're just in a place where they need each other, so they try that experience on with a kiss. But the movie's about a lot more than kissing.

It's about Selene's eyes being opened and her concept of who's good and who's evil being flipped on its head. Even if you've seen Rise of the Lycans and know who the good and bad guys really are, it's still interesting watching Selene go through that process. That - and the leather, and the eyes, and the butt-kicking - is what makes her a great character.

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