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The perils of seeing everything through your ideology

This is an article about a movie that I rather like, but it is also about how not to write a film review.

I am werewolf, hear me roar… No, I am sure I remember that name of that daft Helen Reddy song all wrong, but that does seem to be the message of a review of Underworld in the Sierra Times by the colourfully named RadioFree Rocky D… this movie is just a pinko feminist tract.

To which I say… nonsense.


Underworld, the film in question, is in essence a version of Romeo and Juliette, but set against the backdrop of a war between not Montagues and Capulettes, but a clan of werewolves and a clan of vampires! This has everything for the trash movie aficionado: monsters, perpetual gloomy atmospherics, high tech weapons, chick-in-latex-with-guns (the breathtaking Kate Beckinsale)… need I say more? As an extra added bonus, it even has a decent and fairly complex storyline!

The review on the worthy Sierra Times dislikes this movie because it was being ‘politically correct’:

Women and men are physical equals. Anything a man can do, a woman can also do. Anyone who points out that men are physically stronger than women should be forced to undergo government-sponsored sensitivity training. Worse yet, telling the truth just may be sexual harassment. I know this, because Hollyweird tells me so.
I’m guessing that Beckinsale weighs in at a whopping 115 pounds – including her bootiliscious leather getup and her ho’ boots. I warm up with more weight than that. Be-otch come near me, and I’ll squish her. Good thing for her she carries twin Glocks.

Well for a start Selene, Beckinsale’s character, does not go mano-a-mano with the werewolves when she can avoid it… in fact she runs like hell to put some distance between them so she can shoot the hell out of them with silver bullets. And for another, she is not a 115 pound woman, she is a 115 pound immortal vampire, so why the hell should she be constrained by the limitations of a normal woman? I am sure that mighty jock RadioFree Rocky D could kick Kate Beckinsale’s delectable behind, but I doubt he is bulletproof regardless of how much weight he warms up with, so who cares?


The fact she casually steps off a ledge 20 floors up is a
fair indication the movie does not expect you to see
Selene as a feminist representation of ‘everywoman’

But then the review gets really weird:

More PC oozes out when someone wonders aloud, “Who started this war …?” This is Hollyweird’s way of saying that all wars are stupid and meaningless. Nothing could be further from the truth. Tell any veteran the war he fought in was for nothing, and you’ll get a face full of knuckles – and you’ll deserve it. Hollyweird has its hate-America-first panties in a bunch over the fact that President Dubya was the man at the helm when our troops totally stomped Saddam’s jackbooted civilian-killers into the sand. Where were the liberal’s objections when Weak Willie was Presidunce and sent troops to Bosnia, Somalia, Rwanda and Haiti? Where were the socialist street protests then?

Huh? Now I quite like the Sierra Times and no doubt RadioFree Rocky D and I would probably agree on a great many issues (I was an outspoken supporter of the armed overthrow of Ba’athism in Iraq for example), but this review is what happens when one’s ideology starts to distort everything one sees. That paragraph seems to suggest that to question the legitimacy and sanity of any war makes you some pabulum puking whining pinko. I guess RadioFree Rocky D must have thought any Russian who questioned the wisdom of the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan was some sort of weak kneed girly-boy.

And from this position he takes the view that questioning the wisdom of a war between vampires and werewolves is somehow criticism of the US/UK invasion of Iraq. Funny but I must have missed the ‘No Blood For Oil’ speech coming from one of the vampires (vampires… blood… get it? Oh never mind).


Use GUNS when fighting werewolves!

Anyway, this review tells us a lot about the author who rejoices in the name of ‘RadioFree Rocky D’ but tells us jack shit about the movie called Underworld… which happens to rock big time.


The ayes eyes have it!

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26 comments to The perils of seeing everything through your ideology

  • Arjuna

    eh, looks like a crappy movie with a hot chick. Why go all Deconstructionist on it?

  • Actually, Perry’s gone all metacontexual on it, not deconstructionist…

  • Sage

    The “but she’s a vampire” response is more than a little disingeuous. It’s about the same as “but she’s a SLAYER, see?” There absolutely is a social and political message being deliberately embedded in movies like this one, and shows like Buffy.

    How do I know? Because the producers never miss a chance to tell us, that’s why. It’s a feature, a selling point, and one of which they are proud, because it means they can seell their product to feminists who hate guns as well as fourteen-year-old boys looking for some sex and violence to spend their money on. Not until now has a formula existed to reach both those markets with the same product.

    How many thousands of times has it been said that the point of this deluge of “strong women” movies is precisely what it appears to be–a gift to little girls to let them know they can do anything? Too many times to count.

    Of course, when faced with the criticism that’s it’s a lie, and that going toe to toe with your boyfriend is not likely to end in a girl’s favor, suddenly it’s, “Well, little girls are if course to understand that the character in the movie is a vampire.” Uh, yeah okay. This begs the question, “Why this movie, why now? Why not forty years ago?”

    Look, the people in the movie business are just selling what’s popular. As long as people want to see women in latex gunning down monsters, that’s what we’re going to get. No problem. But let’s not pretend these people in Hollywood aren’t bending over backwards to hit all the right politically palatable notes. They are. It’s a perfect confluence of money and ideology. To that extent, it’s eminently American, no?

  • Second Perry’s observation that this movie actually has a surprising semblence of a plot to it, with a rather interesting twist that was neither obvious from the first few frames, nor really given away until revealed en toto.

    Also have to agree with Perry that Rocky D is the one with the statement to make – using the review of this film as the vehicle – even with the tinting on the old politico-visors turned up to max intensity, the underlying socio-political messages just whipped right by without leaving much of an impression on me. Maybe I was just too wrapped up figuring out which eastern European locale was the site of filming (before looking). or appreciating Kate’s…er…armaments. Yeah, Armaments.

    The only question I had walking out of the theater was – why no were-babes?

  • Julian Morrison

    The thing about “but she’s a vampire” is basically unnecessary – she barely uses vampirelike “powers”. She mostly shoots stuff. Once she uses a sword. In the rare cases she fights hand-to-hand, she uses skill, sneakiness, and dexterity, not Buffy-style (feminist plot hole) superstrength.

    Plus there’s the other female character – who is “strong”, not as a combatant (she never fights) but as a personality. She has her own agenda. It isn’t even an agenda that’s unsubtly spelled out in exposition, to assist the dummies. Joy! Actual plot depth! The irony is that noncombatant chick is the only one to do the “vampire powers” thing. Cute, huh?

  • Kevin L. Connors

    Why does [i]Romeo and Juliet[/i] endure? It is among the Bard’s worst offerings. It is not cleaver, in either concept or execution. The witlessness of the protagonists is surpassed only by their feuding elders. And they bumble through this final episode of their young lives as total victims of circumstance. Even the dialog, the only redeeming part of the play, is a far cry from Shakespeare’s best.

  • The Wobbly Guy

    I wonder how White Wolf is going to fare in their lawsuit…

    The first time I saw the trailer, I was half expecting the RPG company’s logo to show up. It was that much of a rip-off.

    As for the popularity of Romeo and Juliet, well… people like romance stories. This type of cliche arose simply because it succeeds in attracting the audience, no matter how many times we’ve been exposed to the same old story in different guises.

  • Dale Amon

    Aye, may not be so small as a pin prick, nor as large as a barn door, but I fear if you seek me on the morrow you will find me a very grave man…

  • Dale Amon

    I think neither Rocky D nor some or our posters have met some of the libertarian women I know… blackbelts, crack shots…

    And Perry, you did mean “No oil for blood” didn’t you?

  • Dave

    I liked it. And Kate Beckinsale, as she said on Film 2003, does have a VERY shiny bum. 🙂

    My wife also liked it, which is rare because she usually hates my choice in movie. The only thing that annoyed her was having her “saved” in the car by the guy.

    She’s quite feminist and didn’t see the need.

    I hear Russel T Davies want Bill Nighy (Lucas?) to be the Doctor.

  • What no female werewolves? That is prejudice that is!

    I am going to read the book and miss this movie. I hope White Wolf tear this arseholes a new rectum. They produce quality games and have done for many years.

    Vampires who mostly use guns…lame.

  • I looked kind of feeble when I saw the trailer. But I now learn that it is top-notch high quality trash? Excellent. I will go and see it.

    (Speaking of movies, I finally caught Spirited Away yesterday, released in the UK only one year after the US, and a little over two years after Japan. I will just be the umpteenth person to say this is a wonderful movie that everyone should see).

  • I have to wonder what Mr. “Radio Free Rocky D” would say about all the strong female characters in Robert Heinlein’s novels or the numerous anime series which feature women with guns. I would hardly consider them feminist propaganda.

  • ChiSean

    This begs the question, “Why this movie, why now? Why not forty years ago?”

    I don’t think they had the special effects capability then, and in the 60’s I think Russ Meyer would have preferred to see women taking their cothes off rather than fighting werewolves. My how our culture has deteriorated.

    As to the White Wold thing. Give me a break!! They hardly created vampires and werewolves, nor were they the first ones to modernize the age-old fables. It was only a matter of time before someone came out with a movie like this. It’s kind of like a modern Dracula meets Frankenstein movie.

  • asm

    I thought the movie sucked. It was boring, tragically-hip… a wannabe-Matrix attitude with the guns and the heavy metaland the leather cat-suits. I was suprised that there were no “bullet-time” sequences. Not once did a “vampire” ever drink blood directly from a mortal.
    Liquid sunshine bullets? “Silver Nitrate” that looks like silver model paint? Puh-leeze.
    It could have been so much more. I can’t believe anyone liked it.
    Oh, and the “Gee, I didn’t realize I had been decapitated a few seconds ago” gag was just the icing on the cake.
    Kate Beckinsale in tight leather, though… it was almost worth it.

  • vamp me baby

    nah, asm… i thought it was outstanding. it was gripping, successfully hip and atmospheric as hell and far from being wannabe-matrix (cos that movie blew chunks big time), it was completely different. if u cannot see how anyone would like it, u got no imagination, not to mention no taste.

    i got to agree with the article. it rocks big time. sequel please. fast as possible.

  • Chris

    Hey don’t be so hard on Rocky D, he’s just a talk radio shock jock that made a small name for himself by always being Politically Incorrect, in fact if you go to the link it’s called Politically Incorrect Movie Reviews and sunds like he did it off the cuff on air… which I believe he did. If you can you should listen to him, his stick is funny.

  • Brandi in AZ

    I enjoyed the movie as well, but I was disappointed that the male lead, Michael (Scott Speedman), didn’t really get to do much until the very end. He was basically the “damsel in distress” for most of the film, which made sense, since he as the only human character, was the weakest compared to all the vamps and werewolves running around. I look forward to seeing both Scott and Kate in the sequel. They should kick much a$$ together. I prefer movies in which both the males and females are tough and strong. There’s got to be a middle ground between “Rambo”-type films where the men are super human and the women are all whiny bitches who complain and get in the way, and Xena: Warrior Princess stories with Super women doing completely unrealistic stunts and guys who are weak little girly men. Hopefully, Michael and Selene, in the sequels, will blaze a new path.

    There will be a sequel by the way. The story will be a trilogy. Apparently the film did so well during the pre-screenings, that the sequel deal was signed before it was even released in the theaters. Underworld Sequel

  • Fiona Negroponte

    That is great news, Brandi! I loved Underworld and have seen it twise with my husband and once with a co-worker. I just wish I could fit into Kate’s outfit. Oh well, back on the Aitkens diet for me 🙂

  • Dave F

    That whole vampires thing is just so damn tired now. The last one with a spark of originality was The Forsaken, and the last great werewolf movie was with Jack Nicholson (since An American Werewolf in London, that is).

    Plus I am v weary of CGI movies. They all look the same. The Matrix was a terrific film, but even its sequel was a drag.

    There is a trend back to real stunts, because CGI is so yawn. I mean, once you can do anything, who cares? Me, I’m off to see The Italian Job. Not a computer-generated bone in its body, and actors doing a lot of the driving. That’s moviemaking.

    Perry likes computer games too. I find them corny. Take away the “style” and what do you have? I guess if you ARE in love with that kind of stuff, Underworld and its countless siblings
    do have irresistible appeal. As for feminism in a Hollywood eye-candy epic, please.

  • As to the White Wold thing. Give me a break!! They hardly created vampires and werewolves, nor were they the first ones to modernize the age-old fables.

    Interesting point of view, especially considering that White Wolf aren’t claiming that they created vampires and werewolves or that they were the first to update the old myths. They’re claiming that the particualr combination and expression of elements that this film uses are strikingly similar to their concepts (and are even more so in earlier drafts of the script). In particular, they’re claiming plot similaries between the movie and a short story they published some years ago.

    [Full disclosure: I am a regular freelance contributor to White Wolf’s products, but do not represent the company in any way, shape or form]

  • There was a story very like this in 2000AD some years ago.

    I had a sense of deja vu when I saw the film…

  • I love Underworld it is a wicked movie. I love movies that have to do with vampires and werewolves and this one was fantastic the creators of the movie knew what they were doing but the only thing i didnt like was how fake the werewolves looked but they made up for that by making the half vampire and half werewolf look extremely cool and wicked. if u ask me i think that there should be a sequel.

  • What I don’t understand is the big deal about a whole Romeo and Juliet thing. There doesn’t seem to be anything going on between Selene and Michael aside from general lust…it’s not love, so to say…

    It (the relationship) is actually rather unrealistic.

  • There doesn’t seem to be anything going on between Selene and Michael aside from general lust… it’s not love, so to say… It (the relationship) is actually rather unrealistic

    You think a relationship based on lust is… unrealistic? Having had several such relationships, sadly none of which involved Kate Beckinsale, I find this a rather strange notion.