Posted by: Kat | January 28, 2009

Underworld: Rise of the Lycans

Vampires seem to be the in thing once again with the ever boring ‘Twilight’ coursing its way through the veins of angsty teenagers and boring the hell out of everyone else. Let’s face it, Twilight was boring. Most people I’ve spoken to, except for those who exist within the age bracket it is targeted, didn’t like the movie. I was so disappointed by it that I started to write my own vampire film because I was just beside myself. I love my vampire films. I love the mythologies, the beauty, the character study, the tragedy, the essence and the stories that come into play. Of course there are some vampire films that I would soon rather forget (i.e. Queen of the Damned, Twilight etc.).

When the first Underworld came out in 2003 I was impressed. The story wasn’t the greatest one ever told and there was a lot of “look at me I’m a totally hot vampire” waltzes through the castle, but there was ideas and a storyline that had potential. One of the storylines that I was intrigued by the most from the first film was that of Lucian’s (the werewolf/lycan) forbidden love with the Vampire, Sonja. I love tragic romances, which stems from my passion of Shakespeare. I wondered whether or not they would ever make a film that told the story of Sonja and Lucian. It was a story I was interested in and the novelisation of the film didn’t quite satisfy my thirst.

When Underworld Evolution came out I was hoping they would touch on the past a little more, which they did, but they went further back in time to the beginnings of William and trying to link Selene to that past through her memories. It worked as an action film and was definitely a budget improvement. An entertaining Vampire film in the end.

When I heard that they were going to make a third film about the past, I got excited. Like the true nerd that I am I watched and waited patiently for news about the propose ‘prequel’ that would tell the story that I longed to see. That of Sonja and Lucien. Then the trailer came out and I was even more excited. They had most of the original cast members (i.e. Michael Sheen as Lucian, Bill Nighy as Viktor, Steven Macintosh as Tannis, and Kevin Grevioux as Raze). One thing I wasn’t so sure about was their choice for Sonja, Rhona Mitra. In the memory flashbacks that you see in Underworld of Sonja, she was blonde, but when I saw the trailer and remembered how much they went on and on about how Selene (Kate Beckinsale) reminded Viktor of “his precious Sonja”, the casting made sense.  In the end, aside from Rhona being exceptionally beautiful (and if you have ever seen Doomsday, smouldering hot with attitude) she was a good choice for Sonja.

So down to the movie itself… We learn the origins of Lucian and how he was the first Lycan of his kind to be born a werewolf, but look like a human. How he was bred in servitude and forced to turn other slaves into Lycans so that they could bow to the whims of their Vampire masters, toiling away during the night to build the castle and then guarding the Vampires during the day from potential attack whilst they slept. Tis a hard life and naturally you would think that they would eventually snap and have a bit of a rebellion.

One thing that I loved about Underworld 3 was that it was straight to the point. There was no beating around the bush. Lucian and Sonja were lovers from the very beginning, it didn’t go into “how” they became lovers, it just was and you accepted that. There was no dancing around the subject either. Straight to the point. Both actors giving enough chemistry to their romance that you believed it. Bill Nighy was near PERFECT as Viktor, portraying him with a dark sarcasm and with more presence than what was allowed for in the first Underworld. He was ruthless and he played the part very well indeed. It was good that they recasted Michael Sheen as Lucian as well, because it gave the film a sense of belonging with the other two films and then add in the addition of Tannis and Raze and everything seemingly fell into place.

The action sequences were well paced alongside of the film and whilst there was some cheese moments of dialogue where you just wanted to either laugh, roll your eyes and find an empty popcorn bucket to barf in, these moments were few and far between enough that you could forgive them. The SFX of the transition from human to werewolf had improved also.  The film was gritty, it was dark and it was how I would of imagined the story to unfold. It didn’t have the music video feel that the first two films had, which is primarily because Len Wisemen (director of the first two) was replaced by Patrick Tatopoulos who is known more for his creature/special effects work than his directing, but I think he did a much better job.

Rise of the Lycans is by no means the perfect film. But its an awesome addition to the Underworld series and it rains hellfire over Twilight in my opinion. As a fan of the Underworld series my review is somewhat biased and many would disagree but I went and saw this latest addition with my friend, who isn’t a fan, and he enjoyed it. He said it was way better than the first two.

Rise of the Lycans makes Underworld 1 & 2 work better as well. After watching the film I came home and rewatched Underworld 1 again and it just was a much better film/experience, because you now had more of the history and complexity and the actions of the characters made a hell of a lot more sense.

Overall I was satisfied and entertained…

4/5

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