Best to Worst: Rating the "Underworld" Films
- by ReuBen DeBord, 1 October 2015
Hey there, Muties! With the coming of All Hallows’ Eve in roughly 1 month, I thought now was a good time to talk about a horror-ish film franchise and tell you which films are the best and which ones are the worst, in that order! I’ve done this sort of thing before, recently in fact, with the Terminator films, so now I’ll be doing basically the same thing with the Underworld films!
If you haven’t seen the Underworld movies, it’s about a no-nonsense, hawt, take-charge lady vampire who kills werewolves and lives in a mansion with lots of other hot no-nonsense vampires. And I should mention right now that even though my description might make these movies sound like high art, they are actually terrible (shocking, I know). But still, there are different levels of terrible, and that’s what I’m here to talk about!
Without a doubt, this is the best movie of the franchise. It has a pretty simple premise: Vampires and Werewolves are at war, but there’s one dude who’s got vampire AND werewolf DNA, and he becomes Neo from the Matrix to possibly put a stop to the war.
This is a movie I used to like quite a bit, but with age, I’ve come to not care for it very much at all. I think my big problem with it is that it’s too caught up in the special effects, and the story suffers. I once said this would have been a really cool story if it was a play with no special effects. With the large cast of characters all at war with each other, and political intrigue within the Vampire Community, this story feels very Shakespearean, if Shakespeare was Michael Bay’s student in filmmaking. That’s why I’d love to have seen this movie without all the bells and whistles. Just the story of a woman getting caught up in an ugly war and finding out the ugly truth of her past.
2. "UNDERWORLD: AWAKENING"
As I said, Underworld was the best of the franchise. I’ll explain in more detail later about how Evolution took the franchise for a nose dive. The damage was apparently so irreparable that the creators chose to devote the next film to prequel territory. And then this film jumps forward 12 years into an even more science fiction landscape, more reminiscent of Blade Runner than Blade. But such a clean break from the second installment worked.
This movie takes things back to basics, while injecting much more sci-fi into the mix. This movie is closer to the first in terms of quality, but it still doesn’t move the franchise into “great” territory. There’s a lot of weird small problems with this movie (like if the Government is killing all werewolves and vampires on sight, why suddenly start taking prisoners when they capture Selene? Or why does this movie think it can get away with having a 19 year old play a 12 year old?) But those problems aren’t nearly bad enough to plunge this one beneath the other sequels to Underworld. After a couple of really bad films, this one clocking in at “okay” is okay.
3. "UNDERWORLD: EVOLUTION"
It was really tricky deciding if I should rank this one over Rise of the Lycans. This and Rise of the Lycans are both far below the first film, in my humble. This one ranks lower because it ignores the wisdom of my creative writing professor from College. “Keep it Simple, Stupid” is what he always used to say. And this movie doesn’t do that.
Remember how there were vampires and werewolves at war? Well, the first movie ends with a hybrid that honestly looks pretty sweet, as far as monsters go. And then at the very end, we see a hibernating vampire accidentally absorbed some werewolf blood becoming ANOTHER hybrid. Okay, I can deal with that, I guess. But then this movie complicates things by saying that there are werewolves who are just wolves, and the two hybrids are actually different kinds of hybrids, and we find out all the werewolves and vampires are basically cousins because the first vampire and the first werewolf were brothers. It just gets way too complicated in this movie. When you watch this one, it makes sense that, with the third movie, they decided to do a prequel set over 500 years earlier.
4. "UNDERWORLD: RISE OF THE LYCANS"
Rise of the Lycans is a prequel that doesn’t feature Selene, the hot no-nonsense vampire who is trying to end the war. Instead, it features Sonja, a hot, no-nonsense vampire who is trying to prevent the war from beginning. Once upon a time, this was actually my favorite of the (at the time) trilogy. I wasn’t too happy with Underworld Evolution, and I liked that this movie sorta takes things back to basics. Vampires hate Werewolves, Werewolves hate vampires, war is brewing. It follows the advice of my creative writing professor, so that’s good. And it’s got horseback riding and sword fighting! It’s like this movie was tailor made for me.
And for a while, it was my favorite Underworld movie. Until I eventually went back and watched the first Underworld. It had been a while since I saw it, and I was dismayed to see that literally the entire plot of Rise of the Lycans was summed up in about 30 seconds in the first Underworld movie. Not a single piece of story from this movie is new or innovative. Say what you will about the Star Wars Prequels, but at least those movies TRIED to add some new elements to the backstory that had been hinted at in the original films. Rise of the Lycans went from being my favorite Underworld movie to being the second most unnecessary thing in the franchise.
5. "UNDERWORLD: ENDLESS WAR"
I hesitated to even consider this part of the series, but what the heck, while I’m talking about terrible Underworld stories, I might as well cover this one. This was a 15ish minute “trilogy” of anime shorts that were included on the 2011 Bluray release of the first three movies. Over the span of 120ish years, Selene hunts and kills 3 werewolf brothers. One in 1890, one in 1963, and one in 2012. That’s basically it.
Nothing of consequence happens here. I guess the only saving grace these shorts have is that they prevent Rise of the Lycans from being the most pointless Underworld story out there. And sure, it’s not all bad. The animation looks gorgeous. If this effort had been put toward a lengthier ongoing animated series, it no doubt would have been universally praised for its animation quality. But looking good was never a problem for the Underworld movies. It was the story that they always seemed to mess up, and it’s no different here. If you are a huge Underworld fan, and you didn’t know about the existence of these shorts, you could go the rest of your life without watching these, and you’d be just fine.
Now that you know which level of terrible corresponds with each of these movies, things will be a lot easier in your life! Let us know below which Underworld movie do you consider the least terrible!
Tagged: movies & TV.