A prequel to the first two Underworld films, this fantasy explains the origins of the feud between the Vampires and the Lycans. Aided by his secret love, Sonja, courageous Lucian leads the Lycans in battle against brutal Vampire king Viktor. Determined to break the king's enslavement of his people, Lucian faces off against the Death Dealer army in a bid for Lycan independence.
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This marks the third movie in the Underworld series. However, it is not a sequel, but a prequel. So Kate Beckinsale makes a cameo, but Rhona Mitra plays the dominant female in this one. But its the guys who really take control of this movie. Michael Sheen and Bill Nighy really have most of the spotlight, and this prequel is their movie.
The story goes back to the beginning when a group of vampires known as Death Dealers kept the Lycans as their slaves. However, Lucian (Sheen) becomes the voice of the Lycans and gets them to join together to battle against Viktor (Nighy), the vampire king. To make matters worse, Lucian is having a secret love affair with ViktorÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s daughter, Sonja (Mitra). I must say this movie is entertaining and always keeps the pace going pretty fast.
The actors really bring more to this movie and ultimately make it better. Bill Nighy has been in some dramatic films like The Constant Gardener, Notes on a Scandal, and Valkyrie. However, he can also be the ultimate villain, which he has proven in the other Underworld movies. Also, Michael Sheen is almost the exact same as Nighy. Sheen is very underrated as an actor and always gives a great performance, but is ignored. This has happened in The Queen and Frost/Nixon. Helen Mirren got all the glory for The Queen and Frank Langella is the only actor who has been nominated this awards season for Frost/Nixon. But Sheen can also play the hero, a werewolf hero. He can handle battle scenes and is just as entertaining in this as he was in the other two films I mentioned.
This movie surprised me because it was better than I thought. It fits right in with the other two movies of this franchise, and watching how it all begins is fun and entertaining. If you enjoyed the other two Underworld movies then I have no doubt that you will enjoy this one as well.
At The Movies
Underworld: Rise of the Lycans (PG) * * *
By ROBERT WALDMAN
Inbreeding apparently isnÃ¢â‚¬â„¢t just reserved for those country hillbillies or old wives tales. Efforts to procreate among the species wrecks havoc on world order in Underworld: Rise of the Lycans, a hair raising effort from Columbia Pictures now firing up a storm at the Oakridge Cinemas, Esplanade 6, Empire Studio 12, Colossus, Scotiabank Theatre and Silver City theatres around B.C.
Good things can come from good scripts. For the unfamiliar, apparently an age old battle has gone on between vampires (the living dead) and lycans, who are half werewolf half human. Take a good story like this and it traces the roots of this timeless conflict. Just like the first Batman Begins franchise opener here we are treated to see just how this juggernaut of conflict began.
During current times, actually somewhere in the dark ages, we have a group of vampires ruling the day. Led by a council of elders the territory is Ã¢â‚¬Å“overseenÃ¢â‚¬â„¢ by Viktor, a madman in the classic Napoleon/Hitler mould. Ã¢â‚¬Å“BlessedÃ¢â‚¬Â by beautiful daughter Sonja the vampires seem destined to cling to power. By hook and by crook these people rule, aided and abetted by a present day slave class made up of shackled Lycans. One way Viktor retains power is through the help of Lucian, a lycan slave who is not your typical beast of burden.
All the action here centers on a remote castle adjoined by a forest belt where the werewolves roam freely. Bitter love clouds the inner sanctum where the two races mingle. Over time the relationship between Lucian and Viktor gets rather muddled as an illicit liason occurs, throwing the former Ã¢â‚¬Å“orderÃ¢â‚¬Â of the place upside down.
Jealousies, family strife, polluted bloodlines and the ability for humans to transform miraculously into werewolves and vice versa provide the gist to this great classic B film. Superb special effects and a good plot make Underworld: Rise of the Lycans a must see for fans of this genre. Back in time we go to experience first hand a whole different world run by madmen/women and strange supernatural creatures who can turn on a moments notice. Get set for the ultimate showdown between man and beast. Heaven help any so-called innocents caught in between two power-driven leaders and a woman who bears quite the cross.
People who enjoy classic fantasies such as Lord of the Rings are going to get a big charge out of the battle scenes and those who grew up watching vampire movies will obviously get the tell tale signs of how this race stays solvent. Atmospherically, the sets assembled here are quite impressive, exemplified by a castle with dungeons built the way they should be, complete with endless maze-like passages and the odd torture chamber thrown in for good measure. Edgar Alan Poe and Boris Karloff would be proud of the world created here by director Patrick Tatopoulos who has put his experience to good use. Once a special effects ace, Tatopoulos has earned his stripes by perfecting visual effects, production design work, costume design and being a fixture in earlier film make-up and art departments. Though brought to the screen with a ton of producers including original director Len Wiseman somehow the team has got the right story, the right timing and clearly the right casting.
You want camp, youÃ¢â‚¬â„¢ve got camp in this 93 minute bit of nonsense that is a rollicking good time. Ham it up with Bill Nighy (Valkyrie) who is absolutely delicious as the diabolical Viktor, not exactly the poster boy for father of the year. Whoever gave Viktor his lines here deserves a medal as some utterances are so corny theyÃ¢â‚¬â„¢re a hoot to hear. Eyes also gaze out to the bewildering beauty of Rhona Mitra (Shooter) who can go the distance with any male in her pursuit of attaining goals as Sonja. And, believe it or not, in the title role we have Michael Sheen playing Lucian. Under scores of make-up Sheen is totally invisible as the crazed werewolf warrior, quite a stark throwback from this current rousing portrayal of David Frost in the monumental Frost/Nixon drama.
Long on camp, great on atmosphere and full of fantasy, the New Zealand lensed Underworld: Rise of the Lycans is sure to fire up your imagination and bring your blood to a boil during this bewitching winter season.
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