Friday, October 24, 2008

Underworld -- reviewer Lee Pletzers

Movie tie-in book.
Novelization by Greg Cox
Based on the screenplay by Danny McBride.

“A gripping tale of passion, betrayal and revenge starring ate Beckinsale and Scott Speedman.” ~ Blurb from the back cover of the book.

Note: This review may contain spoilers, so if you would like to see the movie and be surprised, it might be best to skip this review. Also a DVD review follows the book review ~ Richard Lee.

I have always loved werewolves and vampires. I have a book about werewolves and a chapbook series with werewolves and vampires fight each other also.

This book, is hard out action from beginning to end. The writing style is great, smooth and each sentence produces a perfect picture of the action taking place, and the best thing is that Greg Cox does not treat the reader like a fool and feel the need to fully explain in intricate detail every little thing. He suspects (and rightly so) that we know what a subway station looks like. The Gothic mansion where the vampires live is only outlined, giving an overall vision that does not hamper with the pace of the story. A story spanning 900 years.

The vampires are at war with the werewolves.

The book starts off well, with Selene, an excellent Death Dealer (the band of warrior vampires that hunt and kill the werewolves), is standing on top of a five-story high building overlooking the city, Budapest. She spies two thugs and recognizes them as werewolves. And from page four, the action starts.

Greg masterly implants Michael a young doctor, fleeing America from a past he can’t bare to handle any longer, into the mix straight away, placing him walking along the street headed to the subway station. Exactly where the werewolves are headed.

Selene notices him, his appearance very pleasing to her. Quickly she tries to put him out of her mind, she has spotted the Lycanthropes and must deal with them. During a firefight, she sees the American in the middle of crossfire helping to save a young girls life. She admires him for his bravery, and while watching him, she notices something very strange. One of the werewolves lurches for the young doctor - not about to kill but to capture. She quickly shoots the werewolf, injuring but not killing it. The werewolf runs into the subway tunnels.

In shock and not knowing what else to do, he heads to work, and returns home in the early morning hours. He doesn’t know that Selene has found his house and is waiting inside. Once he discovers her, there is a slight altercation where the Death Dealer throws him against the wall, wanting answers to her questions. Suddenly there is heavy thumping on the roof.

The werewolves have arrived, confirming Selene’s suspicions that they are after Michael for some reason and she needs to keep him alive to find out why. In a ferocious action packed chapter, Michael is bitten by the leader of the werewolves, Lucian, who spits some of the blood into a small test tube.

Why does Lucian want to keep some of Michael's blood? Well to make a long story short: Michael is a direct descendant of the very first immortal, he does not have the power to change into either werewolf or vampire. The werewolves want to mix his blood with that of a vampire and werewolf to create a new breed of immortal. A hybrid.

The vampires do not want this. The hybrid will be th most powerful immortal to ever exist.

Kravan, the lead vampire running the house of the elder Viktor, tries to stop Selene's efforts to help Michael every step of the way. He is jealous. He wants Selene for himself, but she just plain hates him. In a desperate bid to find help, she awakens the elder Viktor, only to learn that he believes Kravan over her any day for the pure and simple reason, that she is love with a Lycan.

*Note: There are three elders, two sleep like mummies for a hundred or two hundred years while only one reigns. The next to be awakened should have been Marcus not Viktor. Selene broke the number one rule that has saved their lives for centuries. This infuriates Viktor so much he decides that Selene must be judged before the high council – and that means death. ~end of note.

Selene escapes the mansion and rushes to Michael's aide (she has earlier handcuffed him to the chair in a special room at an interrogation house). The Lycans follow her, knowing she will lead them to Michael. In a vicious battle, the Lycans grab Michael and take him to Lucian.

The book focuses on the vampires most of the way through, making the werewolves out to be the bad guys. I wasn't happen about this until I reached the part of Michael meeting Lucian in the Lycans lair. Here the truth comes out and all is reveled.

I haven’t seen the DVD yet, but have ordered it based on how well this book is written.
1. It was un-put-down-able.
2. The story flowed wonderfully.
3. Not over explained details.
4. Fast paced.
5. Is more than a movie tie-in, it is a full sized novel at 372 pages.

Over all rating out of 5: 5
Content, action, description: 5
Writing - style and prose: 4.5

This book is a MUST for any horror library.

DVD version review of Underworld
Screen Gems productions.
Widescreen edition.

• Starring: Kate Beckinsale, Scott Speedman
• Encoding: Region 1 (U.S. and Canada only. This DVD will probably NOT be viewable in other countries. Read more about DVD formats.)
• Format: Color, Closed-captioned, Widescreen, Dolby
• Rated: Not for sale to persons under age 18.
• Studio: Columbia Tristar Home
• DVD Release Date: January 6, 2004
• DVD Features:
• Commentary by director Len Wiseman, writer Danny McBride, and writer-actor Kevin Grevioux
• Commentary by creature designer Patrick Tatopoulos, visual effects supervisor and executive producer James McQuaide, and sound designer Claude Letessier
• Theatrical trailer(s), TV spot(s)
• "The Making of Underworld" featurette
• Creature effects featurette
• Stunts featurette
• Sights and sound featurette
• Storyboard comparison
• Finch music video: "Worms of the Earth"
• Widescreen anamorphic format

I really enjoyed this movie, it rocked. Plain and simple. BUT, I
think that was only because I had read the book, the day before. So
much was cut! Nothing blended perfectly with the movie, also making
no sense.
This is not a case of the book being better than the movie, ‘cause
the book is a movie tie-in – it was written from the script.
Still I am glad to have the DVD stand on the bookshelf next to the
book. If you have the chance, get the book and read it. It is horror.
There are only a few differences:
1. Michael is holding his hands above his head trying to fend off
the rain.
2. The girl in the subway is shot in the leg, not the shoulder.
Apart from the edited scenes that ruined the movie, I can’t recall
much of what else was missing.
If you liked the movie or thought it was so-so, get the book and
read it, the movie will then make sense.
Why do editors feel the need to cut good shit from the movies?
Thanks to DVD we can now see the cut scenes.

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