|Underworld: Rise of the Lycans
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- Werewolf Brethren, Unite!
For those who actually wanted to see some of the back-stories alluded to in the first two "Underworld" films, you should find "Underworld: Rise of the Lycans" to be very helpful. This prequel not only visualizes the beginning of the blood feud between the Vampires and the Lycans, it also tells the story of Lucian (Michael Sheen), a Lycan of unknown parentage who would become the most powerful leader of his clan centuries later. For those who were never into the films to begin with, you might find that this new film actually has something to offer. It's not a masterpiece by any means, but it delivers exactly as it promises: It's a supernatural action film that gives us no more nor less than a vampire underworld and a Lycan uprising. If you were hoping for a fable that's just as complex as it is frightening, might I suggest you stop reading this review?
One of the reasons I enjoyed this movie is that it takes place in the Dark Ages. The first two films took place in the present day (respective to when they were theatrically released), where vampire and werewolf clans coexisted with concrete structures, high-tech guns, and subway stations. It was a blending that was too bizarre for its own good. But in the context of immense stone fortresses, no electricity, filthy dungeons, medieval weaponry, and dense forests populated by peasant folk ... well, it just feels right. It helps that practically every scene is engulfed in shadow, effectively muting the visuals to shades of blue and gray. The color scheme establishes mood so well that it's hard to dismiss it as mere eye candy.
The back-story: Centuries before he became obsessed with the bloodline of Alexander Corvinus, Lucian was unceremoniously born in a dungeon. The cruel Vampire elder, Viktor (Bill Nihy), spared Lucian but killed his parents, making him the first second-generation Lycan allowed to live. When it flashes forward to Lucian's teenage years, we see him defeating a number of ruthless Death Dealers. This impresses Viktor so much that he immediately devises a plan: He will create a new generation of Lycans to guard the Vampire coven from outside forces. With the help of a silver-barbed collar, they will be "civilized" Lycans. They will not be like their "wild" counterparts that roam the forests as wolves, unable to assume a human form.
Now we get to the story proper. Unbeknownst to Viktor, his headstrong daughter, Sonja (Rhona Mitra), has fallen in love with Lucian. Complicating matters is the fact that Lucian is planning on escaping, and he wants Sonja to run away with him; she loves him with all her heart, but there are times when she feels duty-bound to secure the legacy of the coven. She's willful and independent, much to the chagrin of her father, who relies on his conniving right-hand man, Vampire historian Andreas Tanis (Steven Mackintosh), to keep a close eye on her. As he stealthily observes Sonja and Lucian, it becomes clear that a Lycan uprising is in the works, Lucian having won the support of his fellow slaves.
Now that I've described the plot, I realize that I've been writing under the assumption that you're familiar with the "Underworld" series. If you're not, if you've never heard of Lycans or Alexander Corvinus or any other character I've mentioned, chances are "Rise of the Lycans" will not do very much for you. That's the inherent problem with prequels: They assume audiences are familiar with will happen later in the story. But since I am familiar with the film series, I was able to enjoy this film, mostly for its stylistic approach. The story, I admit, is fairly run-of-the-mill, giving us nothing new in the way of character development or theme. Consider the fact that the feud between the Vampires and the Lycans is essentially a commentary on intolerance and cultural understanding; I've seen such commentaries before, even as recently as another werewolf fable, "Blood and Chocolate." Still, "Rise of the Lycans" makes the most of what little it has, so in that sense, the film succeeds.
Noticeably absent from "Rise of the Lycans" is Kate Beckinsale, whose character apparently wasn't born when the story took place (or maybe she was--I can never tell when it comes to Vampires). Rhona Mitra does a fairy decent job assuming the female lead, however, and this is despite the fact that she isn't given much to do other than be Michael Sheen's love interest. Sheen himself does an adequate job as Lucian, a character I could never quite put my finger on in the previous two films. Bill Nighy doesn't stretch too far for his role, but then again, he doesn't have to; for the purposes of this story, Viktor need not be more or less than a classic, uncomplicated villain. One look into his obvious, piercing blue eyes will convince you that the writers never wanted to delve too deeply. The same can be said for the film as a whole. "Underworld: Rise of the Lycans" is a film meant to be enjoyed at face value. There's no point in trying to look past its gothic atmosphere when that's all you were meant to see....more info
- The script and direction=awesome
I adored the first Underworld because of Lucian, played by Michael Sheen and of course Selene, played by Kate Beckinsale. To see Lucian's story in its entirety is such a treat, and the story, direction and acting was genuinely moving. Michael Sheen is brilliant in this film, and I must say whenever he plays Lucian I love the way he looks! I was in tears watching this one play out, well done and I cannot wait to own it!...more info
- It was OK..
I loved the movie trailers and could not wait to see this. Unfortunately, I have a 2-year old and this was not a family movie- so I had to wait a bit longer for it to come out on DVD. I have to say I'm disappointed. I loved the first two and had high hopes for Rise of the Lycans. It was good, but I was left wanting more. More action, more Lucian, more lycan scenes, more Rhona, just more. I like how it was done in the same thread as the first two: dark, up-close fighting scenes, great characters and story; but as I was coming to the end, I thought, "This can't be all?". Overall, being a fan of the Underworld series, I didn't like it, like it, but did not hate it either: so three stars for being okay. ...more info
- Underworld: Rise of the Lycans
While I don't think there was anyone that really wanted a second sequel to the Underworld films, let alone a prequel, the fact that Patrick Tatopolulos directed it to be a decent film with great werewolf-err, Lycan action should be commended. Essentially, Underworld: Rise of the Lycans is the back story we've seen glimpses of during the first film. Lucian (Michael Sheen) is a cherished slave, forced to kill his own kind, yet is in love with Viktor's (Bill Nighy) daughter Sonja (a perfectly cast Rhona Mitra).
That's basically it plot-wise, simple, effective (in terms of delivering what fans wanted to see) but the overall product has a stale taste to it. First some of the positives were Sheen and Nighy chewing scenery up like a starved homeless men at a buffet. They're both great fun, always are. Like I said before, the Lycans are really cool to see in action, more so here than in the previous films. Perhaps the budget was bigger or the CG got cheaper, but they look great in action. It's probably helped by the dark cinematography (although at times, too dark) and that the director, Patrick Tatopolulos was a former FX man, so his knowledge of FX and staging them are better suited here than what Wiseman did in the first two.
Lycans moves fast, barely slowing down for anything, which is wise because most of this was sort of explained already in the first film through flashbacks. To me, that's one of this film's problems and perhaps it was inevitable, but there's little excitement or interest in the proceedings because it is well covered ground. If you've seen the first film more than once, you'll know about the blood feud between Viktor of the vampires and Lucian of the Lycans, how Selene (Kate Beckinsale)was born, and the birth of the Death Dealers. If you are new to this franchise, well, the film might be better because of that, for me it was stale. The script offered nothing new, it was predictable therefore, hurting it. I know it needed to tie in the first film and offers a clever cameo of a key character at the end, so while the film is decent, it's just an unfortunate case of been-there-done-that.
At least on a creature-feature side, it works....more info
- Good Prequel
This was a good prequel, but it wasn't a great one. There should've been more info on the love affair between Lucian and Sonja...but there wasn't. Sonja's character should've been developed more...but it wasn't. Lastly, they killed her too quickly. Her death should've been more tragic than it was...but it wasn't. Still in all, I liked the movie and would recommend it to any fan of the Underworld franchise....more info
- Underworld: Rise of the Lycans
Hundreds of years before the first "Underworld" movie, werewolves were slaves to the vampires, led by Viktor (Nighy). The werewolf Lucian (Sheen) is the favored slave of Viktor. They maintain a respectable relationship despite their differences. Unbeknownst to Viktor, Lucian and Viktor's daughter Sonja (Mitra) are in love. They sneak off to be together even though relationships between vampires and warewolves is forbidden. Their relationship prompts Lucien to remove his collar and go after when she is in danger. Despite saving her, Lucien is punished like the rest of the warewolves. This plants the seeds for their uprising.
"Underworld: Rise of the Lycans" is a movie that probably does not need to be made. The story was laid out quickly in the first "Underworld" movie. That being said, "Rise of the Lycans" is surprisingly entertaining. Nighy and Sheen are doing the overacting that fans of the series have come to love. There are plenty of actions scenes. And, this time, the film is a bit of a period piece. Shakespeare this ain't, but I do not think that fans of the series will be disappointed.
- Mysterious and violent prequel succeeds
Rise of the Lycans is over the top and filled with high drama.
It is slightly different than the first two underworlds and dare I say superior. This one takes place in the middle ages.
If you enjoy time period movies and non-stop action and drama then you should really like Rise of the Lycans.
During the movie I wished for more character development of the Lycans. Like in the other underworld movies you see the werewolves attacking haphazardly at random times. You also see a lot of focus on the vampires.
I think Rise of the Lycans is a bit more entertaining and dramatic than the first two and therefore deserves a 5 star rating.
- This prequel has 'meat' to the story and the DVD has loads of extras
I've read some critics' reviews of this prequel to the Underworld franchise that the story is redundant, yet I felt the story had enough substance in it even though much of the mythology of the feud between vampires and lycans had been touched upon in the previous Underworld movies.
In "Rise of the Lycans", the time period is possibly sometime in the Middle Ages, and set in some European country, in the wilds [with an intimidating vampire stronghold set against the backdrop of mountains and forests]. Viktor [a perpetually scowling Bill Nighy] reigns as vampire commander-in-chief over his coven, with his beloved daughter Sonja [Rhona Mitra] as a fiercely independent and strong-willed vampire who also happens to be in love with lycan Lucian [Michael Sheen, lately seen in Frost/Nixon]. The vampire-lycan relationship remains secret because it is forbidden, and for much of the movie, viewers are repeatedly made aware of this social stratification, i.e. vampires rule over everything [providing humans safety from the werewolves], hold lycans as slaves [Lucian is the first lycan, a human who is able to change into a werewolf and back into human form again], and the werewolves [who cannot assume human form] are the social outcasts or pariahs.
The love story of Sonja and Lucian is credibly portrayed [well, excepting one particularly wacky mountaintop sex scene] and Rhona Mitra plays an impressive Sonja for the most part, no small feat considering she's filling in the shoes of Kate Beckinsale [I know, they both portray different vampires, but one can't help compare them]. Rhona Mitra is gorgeous and fiery, but does get a bit passive towards the end, which kind of disappointed me.
Michael Sheen plays the angry lycan Lucian with competence and verve, and more than holds his own against vampire boss Viktor [Bill Nighy]. Their stand-offs are part of the high points of this instalment.
The weapons used in this prequel lack the sophistication of the previus Underworld movies but given the time frame, giant crossbows, and hands-on combat are inevitable and I must say, did not really disappoint.
The movie aside, the extras on this DVD are pretty impressive:
- Filmmakers' Commentary
- Underworld: Rise of the Lycans - From Script to Screen
- The Origin of the Feud - which includes interviews with Michael Sheen, Bill Nighy and Rhona Mitra about their respective roles in the film.
- Re-creating the Dark Ages - The Look of Underworld: Rise of the Lycans
- Music Video: "Deathclub [Wes Borland/Reinholder Remix]" by William Control Featuring Matt Skiba
- Previews [The Taking og Pelham 123, The International, Blood: The Last Vampire, 2012, Fixed Up!, Waltz with Bashir, The Informers, The Sky Crawlers, Quarantine, Resident Evil: Degeneration, What Goes Up, The Art of War III: Retribution, The Shield: Seasons 1-7, The Da Vinci Code:Extended Cut, The Devil's Tomb, The Grudge 3, and Messengers 2: The Scarecrow]
The audio options come in English, French, Spanish and Thai with subtitle options as well.
For what it's worth, I thought "Rise of Lycans" added more substance to the plot compared to the other two Underworld movies, which were bigger on action than actual story, and the acting in "Rise of Lycans" was credible and above average. I'd rank this as my second favorite Underworld movie after the first, and I look forward to seeing how they create a new story arc in the next instalment, if any....more info
- Vampires versus Lycans with Rhona Mitra!
Underworld: Rise of the Lycans.
Lucian (Michael Sheen), is leader of the werewolves.
Viktor (Bill Nighy), is the vampire leader.
Sonja (Rhona Mitra-one of my favorite actors) is Viktor's daughter.
In short, this is a fast paced, exciting movie. Sonja (Rhona Mitra)
is tough, intelligent, and couragous. The acting is good. Also, the special effects are decent.
This is a five star movie-
- Swords, Fangs, and Plenty of Yawns
Maybe because it was filmed in New Zealand, maybe because the good guys have pointy ears, and definitely because 92 minutes felt like 3 hours, I think a more apt title would have been "Underworld: Lord of the Borings."
The whole movie is blue and dark and everyone speaks in those flat, expressionless English accents that seem to be a requirement for acting in films set in the old-timey days, no matter where or when. I think this story is supposed to take place in medieval Hungary. So would it have been so bad for Sonja - the female protagonist - to talk like Zsa Zsa Gabor? "I vant to suck your bloooood, dahling!"
Anyway, "Rise of the Lycans" is just kind of dull. The fights aren't particularly exciting (a lot of half-a**ed sword swingin'), the special effects (i.e. rubber suits and cheap CGI) are pretty lame, and it doesn't follow the "rules" established in the first two movies. Vampires and werewolves killed by swords and arrows? Whatever, man. Still, it's slightly better than "Underworld 2," but only because it has a clear beginning, a middle, and an end. And speaking of ends, here's hoping that this marks the end of the "Underworld" series. The concept has been - pardon the terrible pun - bled dry. It used to be about blood-sucking vampires. Now, all that's left is the sucking....more info
- The Perfect Date Movie ... for Goths
Seeing current movies these days is a challenge with a very active toddler. When Valentine's Day came around, we dropped our son off with my parents and I let my wife pick the movie. She of course picked the "vampire movie." Which is why I love my wife.
As a big fan of Kate Beckinsale and the World of Darkness role-playing game, the Underworld series quickly became a favorite. It featured big budget special effects, lots of PVC and leather, and plenty of pouty vampires. It also featured a battle between vampires and werewolves, a concept that was so prominent in White Wolf's World of Darkness series that it sparked a lawsuit.
Despite the lawsuit, Underworld continues to forge its own path, such that it now has prequels. You know your movie franchise has made it when executives are willing to pay to produce what is essentially a history book. Fortunately, this bit of history is actually worth watching.
Werewolves and vampires have always been a bit of a mixed bag in Hollywood. The fact that Dracula could turn into a wolf seems to be one of the less plausible aspects of vampirism that were dropped in favor of the Ricean pouty goth. Thus the ability to transform into a wolf is exclusively the domain of the werewolf. But it wasn't always this way.
The vrykolakas, draws its name from "vryk," meaning "wolf" and lakas, meaning "fur" in modern Slavic languages clearly meant "werewolf." Vrykolakas in other countries, however, is used to describe vampires. This is because of the aforementioned ability of a vampire to turn into a wolf, which can be strictly interpreted as meaning that all vampires are actually werewolves.
Underworld: Rise of the Lycans turns this confusion into a plot. In short, vampires and werewolves are descended from the same bloodline, but the vampires have risen to the role of aristocrat while werewolves are little more than beasts. Or at least, that's what the vampires believe. To that end, Viktor (Bill Nighy) the vampire lord treats domesticated werewolf Lucian (Michael Sheen) as his foster son, giving him blacksmith duties that ensure werewolves don't transform with inward-pointing spiked collars. But Viktor's benevolence has limits, and when he discovers that Lucian is having a dalliance with his daughter Sonja (the delectable Rhona Mitra, who still isn't quite Beckinsale but comes pretty darn close), he teaches Lucian a terrible lesson. What Viktor underestimates is the kinship that Lucian has with his wilder brethren, a kinship that will spark class warfare.
Rise of the Lycans is basically what you get when you give a serious goth injection to the elves from Lord of the Rings, rehash the plot from Romeo and Juliet, and steal the feudal arrangement of vampires and their human "cattle" from the World of Darkness series. Nobody speaks in contractions. Everything is viewed through a dark blue lens. And lots of limbs get hacked off.
The real story here is the werewolves. It's their class struggle, after all, and the movie never shies away from the dire consequences of the characters' actions. There is a high enough body count on both sides to make Shakespeare proud.
Vampires. Werewolves. Vampires and werewolves killing each other. Two star-crossed lovers bound by their family allegiances and the curse of their blood. What more could you ask for in a Valentine's Day date movie?
- Blu-ray: If you enjoyed the first two films, `Underworld: Rise of the Lycans' is a Blu-ray worth adding to your collection!
In 2003, the action-horror film "Underworld" starring Kate Beckinsdale as the vampire Selena came out to theaters. Known for its stylish, Goth presentation and dark, brooding environment, the film would spotlight on the war between the vampires aka "Death Dealers" and the human/werewolf hybrids known as "Lycans". Directed by Len Wiseman, the film would spawn a sequel in 2006 "Underworld: Evolution".
But the creators of the film wanted to explain how the feud between the Death Dealers and the Lycans started. Although the first film briefly shown a little bit of that history, due to the rapid and shrinking budget of the first film, the creators were not able to effectively do what they wanted. And thus the third film, "Underworld: Rise of the Lycans", a prequel to the first two films, was created and released in theaters on January 2009.
Director Len Wiseman who was responsible for the first two films had come off directing the fourth "Die Hard" film "Live Free or Die Hard" and needing the time to rest, decided to contribute as a writer and producer for the "Underworld" prequel. Writing the screenplay for "Underworld: Rise of the Lycans" was Danny McBride (who played Mason in the first film), Dirk Blackman (who written "Outlander") and Howard McCain (who wrote and directed "Outlander").
The producers decided to tap into one of their own crew to direct "Rise of the Lycans" and thus Patrick Tatopoulos, known for his special effects and creature design for the previous "Underworld" films but also for blockbusters such as "Independence Day", "Godzilla", "I Am Legend", "Silent Hill" and "10,000 BC" (to name a few) was selected to direct the latest film.
The film debuted at #1 in the box office in Jan. 2009 and has grossed nearly $90 million worldwide.
VIDEO & AUDIO:
"Underworld: Rise of the Lycans" is featured in 1080p High Definition with an aspect ratio of 2:40:1. It's important to point out that "Underworld: Rise of the Lycans" is a film that is featured in primarily blues and blacks. The film showcases the darkness of that area and if there are any other colors that are utilized, those are reds and the golden and bronze colors. It is what Tatopoulos wanted and I think that the emphasis on the darker colors brings out the brooding feeling of the land, the castle, the forest, etc.
Picture quality was well done. I did not see any artifacts, scratches, dust but I did see grain. Especially in one scene that featured Sonja laying on bed, which was brief but grain/low light noise was noticeable. But other than that, I just felt that the film utilized blacks effectively. Red typically are colors that are seen during the most violent or bloodiest of scenes but the color does stand out due to everything being so blue and black.
As for audio quality, "Underworld: Rise of the Lycans" is presented in English and French Dolby TrueHD 5.1 and also in Spanish and Portuguese 5.1.
I enjoyed how the action sequences utilizes each channel in my home theater setup. For one, when hearing the Lycans and the wolves as they run, to when they howl, one thing that audiophiles will notice is the effective use of low frequency bass coming from the subwoofer. That caught my attention immediately and when my subwoofer is utilized in such a manner, it makes me happy!
But the sounds of spears flying and hitting its victim, hearing the various action sequences constant and fluid and the noise of metal upon metal, slicing and clanging, those are noises that sound crystal clear as it comes out from your front channel speakers.
Dialogue is easily understood and so does the growls of the werewolves. There's nothing to fault about the audio, audio was well done!
As for subtitles, subtitles provided are in English, English SDH, French, Spanish and Portuguese.
"Underworld: Rise of the Lycans" includes a second disc (digital copy) while the first disc includes special features that are in High Definition for video and for audio, presented in Dolby Surround & Stereo. Spanish and Portuguese subtitles are also included. Special features included are:
* Filmmaker Commentary - Commentary features Director Patrick Tatopoulos, three producers and the visual effects supervisor. I actually found the commentary quite informative and also entertaining. The guys talk about the choices they had with this film and how they were on a really strict schedule because of talent schedules, they needed to make sure that certain shots were done in 1-2 period. The guys also talked about how they wanted to do more but they had to stay strictly around the budget they had. But one of the most important tidbits was the footage from the first "Underworld" film which utilized a blonde Sonja and then of course, with this film having a dark haired Sonja. A large majority of the decisions made were done due to lack of money in the budget and I would think that if they were to recut the first "Underworld", they can now utilize footage from this this prequel for it. A very informative commentary that "Underworld" fans will no doubt enjoy!
* Cinechat - A two minute intro to Cinechat and of course, if you have BD-Live, you can chat with a friend or other people while watching the film.
* Behind the Castle Walls: Picture-in-Picture - While watching the film, you can get a picture-in-picture screen featuring actual shooting of the footage and also interviews with the Director, cast and crew.
* Lycanthropes Around the World Interactive Map - This is a map featuring Lycanthrope sightings in North America, Europe and Asia. Personally, I don't know how much of this is factual but I did bring up one about two children who were raised by wolves and when I checked on Google to do a search for the names. The names came up for Geocities and Lycos sites dedicated to werewolves but no Wikipedia or news sites. But an interesting, dark and kind of macabre stories of people who believe they were wolves and some that killed and resorted to cannibalism.
* Underworld: Rise of the Lycans: From Script to Screen - (9:13) Interviews with the producers and the Director in regards to how the script was written in 4 weeks and pretty much these guys who worked on the previous two films knew what they wanted for this prequel. But most importantly, when the previous Director Len Wiseman was unable to direct due to his involvement with the fourth "Die Hard" film "Live Free or Die Harder", he became the writer and producer while they tapped Patrick Tatopoulos to direct. Patrick is well-known for his work in special and creature design and effects for many blockbuster films and because this film utilizes plenty of effects, creatures and knew that this film would emphasize that, how the producers felt that he was perfect to direct this film.
* The Origin of the the Feud - (19:58) This is the primary featurette in regards to "Underworld: Rise of the Lycans" with interviews with the cast and crew. The cast talk about their characters and what they wanted to bring to their own character and more.
* Recreating the Dark Ages - (13:01) Interviews with the Director and Production Designer in creating the look and feel of the set, especially the castle and also the werewolves. How their intention of utilizing blacks and blues but also the reds and bronze/gold.
* Music Video: "Deathclub" By William Control - Fans of the band Aiden, will know lead-vocalist wiL Francis's side project aka William Control and their music video for "Deathclub" is included on the special features.
* PS3 Wallpaper
One thing that I enjoy about the "Underworld" films is the sense of its dark, goth style in conjunction with its brooding storyline of the vampires and the werewolves feuding against each other. "Underworld: Rise of the Lycans" is the dark "Romeo & Juliet" storyline of two lovers from two sides that despite and hate each other.
If there is one thing that people are familiar about the "Underworld" films, there is not much time for thorough character development. These characters may have a brief time of happiness but immediately they are trying to survive or somehow ripped away from any happiness that they seek. By no means is "Underworld: Rise of the Lycans" a happy everlasting storyline. It's a tragic story about Lucian and Sonja and what intensified the feud between the vampires (Death Dealers) and the Lycans (werewolves/human hybrids).
Lucian's story of being used by Viktor against humans and against his own kind is established but much is not said about Sonja, all the writers want you to know is that aside from being Viktor's daughter, she's madly in love with Lucian. And that is all you should know.
But I enjoyed this film because it kept things simple. No convoluted or ridiculous storyline that would go astray or become incomprehensible. The storyline features characters that are quite interesting. The Lycan Lucian and his lover, the vampire Sonja and Viktor, the father who will try to deny his daughter or the Lycan baby he raised to become a man any form of pleasure.
Michael Sheen ("Frost/Nixon", "Blood Diamond", "Underworld: Evolution", etc.) did a great job as a Lycan who will not let any side tell him that being in love with a vampire is wrong. It will be interesting as the actor will be part of another popular vampire film "The Twilight Saga: New Moon". Sheen plays that passionate but tortured person effectively, especially as his character has undergone so much, but is strong because of his love for Sonja.
Rhona Mitra ("The Practice", "Boston Legal", "Nip/Tuck") as Sonja was good, I felt that she could have been used a bit more in the film. We know that she is a strong vampire but it was more interesting to see her as a compassionate vampire. It would have been nice to get a little back story of how her relationship with Lucian had started but nevertheless, the focus was not so much on their evolving relationship. The film quickly establishes her love for Lucian and like Juliet, her father would deny her any happiness.
Which leads me to Bill Nighy ("Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Man's Chest", "The Hitchhikers Guide to the Galaxy", "Valkyrie", etc.) as Viktor. Nighy does a magnificent job of playing the cold, elder vampire and as he was great in the first two "Underworld" films, you do see that compassion that he had felt for his daughter and to see how he changes after he discovers the relationship.
The storyline was well-planned and executed, first time Director Patrick Tatopoulos just had to take that screenplay and make the overall setting believable. And because of his well-documented experience on special effects and creature designs, he was able to accomplish that gritty, gloomy world of vampires and werewolves, to make sure that the castle of the vampires looked effectively real and the final cut worked for me.
"Underworld" are films that have never been appreciated by the majority of the film critics but one thing that is consistent is that the intended audience who have enjoyed these films since the beginning have been passionate about it and continue to support it. For me, I have always enjoyed films about vampires and werewolves and I actually dig the overall presentation and characters of the three films.
With that being said, if you enjoyed the first two films, "Underworld: Rise of the Lycans" is a prequel that is just worth watching and worth owning on Blu-ray.
- WHO LET THE DOGS OUT?!
Anyone who has seen the previous movies in the Underworld series will be pleased with this prequel. It competently adds flare to the story, and fills in details that do nothing but accentuate the action and plot of the Underworld timeline.
Covens of vampires were once the dominant species. They were the upper tier in a social structure that placed humans as secondary, and werewolves, animals incapable of controlling their transformation to and from human form, as wild, untamed beasts. When Lucian (Michael Sheen) was born, however, he became a new breed, a missing link between human and werewolf, a sentient being capable of reason as well as controlling transformation; he was the first Lycan.
Eventually, Lucian is thought of as a hybrid pet/soldier. The vampires' great plan, in large part due to their leader Viktor (Bill Nighy), is to utilize the Lycans as soldiers, intelligent guard dogs. When Lucian and his brethren grow weary of their third-class status - not to mention Lucian's budding romance with Viktor's daughter Sonja (Rhona Mitra) - rebellion is afoot. And by rebellion I mean all out war, bloody battle, beheadings and deadly accurate mega-crossbows that create Lycan-skewers. The sword combat comprises the majority of the inter-species hostility. Each vampire carries an Arthurian demeanor as they kill and decapitate with Claymores and Zweihanders, while showing nothing but stoic countenance. The Lycans' fighting style, on the other hand, is more visceral, nearly feral, as they attack with ferociousness verging on animal instinct.
Aside from the nonstop action that comprises the majority of this film, the underlying tones of racial and social status are perhaps the most powerful. All the vampires are ghostly white, with overtly beautiful features. The werewolves are clearly the darker species - growling, snarling, mindlessly rampaging. In the racial middle are the Lycans - humans make up the social middle - determined to rise above their imprisonment, their slavery, and prove their equivalence.
All vampire aficionados will love this movie. It's dark, foreboding, and saturated with violence, despite missing some of the orthodox vampire lore. The lighting and coloring are superb, dark blues complimenting the castles, forests, and cave dwellings of the socially inequal species. Additionally, the connection to the other movies is seamless. Great addition to the series....more info
- Underworld the Truth
I really liked this movie a lot I liked how they explained Lucian's story I think they need to make one with Selene's story and Also one with how William and Marcus became a lycan and vampire.
There was a lot of action which was a good part of the movie the war starting was really neat to see also I also liked how they kept the movie in the med evil times with the castle and people dressing like knights....more info
- You can't beat the moonlight...
"Rise of the Lycans" will please action and special effects fans. Those looking for a good story need to look elsewhere. "Lycans" expands on what we know from flashbacks in the original movie. Lucian is a lycan (werewolf) slave to Viktor--the leader of the vampires. Sonja is Viktor's rebellious daughter. If viewers want origin stories (of either species), then they have come to the wrong movie. Expect little more than average acting while watching the monsters kill each other.
Michael Sheen's Lucian is portrayed as a Christ-figure. Bill Nighy's Viktor comes across as effeminate, incestuous, and simply not what one expects from the leader of a powerful vampire clan. And it really amazes me how much Rhona Mitra looks like Kate Beckinsale. But Mitra's Sonja lacks the edge we see with Beckinsale's Selene.
Despite its flaws, "Rise of the Lycans" pulls through to an average rating.
R: Some sexuality; graphic violence.
- This series was always an underachiever, but this prequel is the most entertaining.
I found the first Underworld picture to be a boring, derivative slight action picture with mild interest. The sequel was an improvement due to it upping the excitement factor and unmuddling the storytelling. Neither films were particularly memorable or original. I always thought the idea of clashing these two mythic movie monsters was a novel idea. Underworld was the first major picture in recent years to set it in motion, but was ultimately lackluster. Unfortunately, the unforseen popularity of this series will prevent the story of Vampires vs. Werewolves from gracing the screen for a long while.
Now we come to the third Underworld sequel, a prequel, and we get what I've always longed for, a full on werewolf and vampire war by the hundreds. We get gothic castles, swords and horses and leave out the pleather-clad super heroes that owed more to The Matrix then the concept would initially conclude. Is this film great or wonderful? No, not really. It's by-the-numbers in it's origin tale and delivers the action the trailers and promotions promised.
One thing this prequel gets right that the previous films couldn't is the romance factor. I really believed the two star crossed lovers in this film, unlike Beckinsale and Speedman's in the previous films which just seemed labored, and the two stars had no chemistry together. You wanted less love and more action. This film makes the relationship real and grand, and makes it worthy of a full-on war, as opposed to the film Troy which never really made you believe any war would be started over Helena. The scene where the lovers are ultimately and permanately parted is truly well done and dramatic. Good job.
The special effects, the real reason for these films to exist, are not up to par though. There are some scenes and shots of fast moving hords of werewolves that just don't work. They look animated and unrelated to the natural space they occupy. Some of the slower motion CGI werewolves look convincing enough. The practical on-set werewolves, like the previous films, are awesome and truly work. No surprise there, the director of this sequel is Patrick Totopoulis, the prouduction and creature designer of the previous films(and many others including The Cave, Stargate, Independence Day, and Dark City). He does a good job of directing here with what appears to be a much smaller budget than the last sequel's.
We get more traditional, and ultimately appropriate gothic imagery and costumes that are really fun and effective. The pallette, like the previous films, is monotone and chrome-blue. The photography is dark, and since the film isn't going for scares, not too dark to muddle the images of action. The action sequences themselves aren't that innovative. They're the typical hack and slash and arrow penatrations we're used to seeing in these type of films, but I welcome them over the laborious task of sitting through one more bullet timed, slow-motion gun battle that instantly makes me want to go to sleep.
So, I give this film the highest rating of the Underworld series. A series of films that isn't that good to begin with, and has somehow wormed it's way into the hearts of every 13 year old in America. The story is clean and to the point. The action is fun. Most the special effects work. The acting is all on spot. Surprisingly, Rhona Mitra(Sonya) is very good in this film. This actress started her career as the body model for the video game Tomb Raider and Kevin Bacon's rape victim in The Hollow Man, but she never really showed any real acting chops(including her lead role in last year's derivative Doomsday). In this film she is quite good and hits the mark. Bill Nighy is wonderfully evil and cold in this film. Thankfully, he learned from his performance in the original Underworld to rope it in. He was terrible in the first film, but is great in this one. Go figure.
A definate rental....more info
- Howling good action
This was the dark and gothic prequel to the first 2 underworld films. In Lycan's, we at last learn the origins of the vamp/lycan conflict. We also meet Lucian, the moses-like progenitor of the werewolf species. As usual, there is a lot of action, great special effects hot-looking vamps and somewhat grungy were-men. While I prefer the series set in modern day, this story was exciting enough to keep my attention. Lucian was a sympathetic character, strong, brave, and loyal, and his girlfriend, Princess Sonja beautiful and willful.
The only downside to the film was that I thought the vamps were fairly on the wimpy side. They were easily overwhelmed by the brute force of the weres and even when it came to sniping at them from a distance seemed unable to really inflict too much damage. Vamps should be smart elegant fighters, weres should be rough brutish thugs. It made me wonder how the vamps remained in power so long. Also given the lack of suitors for the Princess's hand was it very surprising that she had a bit on the side with a werewolf?
I'd recommend this for Vamp/Werewolf fans. While it wasn't especially deep, it had plenty of action and adventure....more info
- Spartacus + Werewolves + Vampires + Love Story + Video-Game Special Effects + Dull fighting scenes
It's like Spartacus plus werewolves and vampires. The special effects are very bad. They look like cheap video games. The fighting scenes are half baked. They don't look exciting, intense and real as the ones from Underworld 2.
The only good thing about this move is the love between Michael Sheen and Rhona Mitra. It provides a couple of touching scenes. But they are too few to make the film worth while.
I prefer Underworld 2 because of the fighting and Kate Beckinsale. She looks sexy in that film.
- A nice prequel to a much loved series!
We all know from previous Underworld movies, that Viktor killed his beloved daughter, Sonja because of her relationship with a Lycan, Lucian (Michael Sheen). So, while this installment didn't offer anything new in terms of storyline, it did allow us to see Sonja through Lucian's and her father's eyes. It also allowed us the opportunity to see Lucian's rise to be "pact leader", but we saw some of the other characters that appear in later Underworld movies (Raze & Tannis), and came to a greater understanding about the divide between the species.
Viktor, the leader of a Vampire clan is determined to use the "werewolves/Lycans" (who he believes are savages and just need to be controlled) as slaves, protectors and workers, all while controlling the humans and remaining one of the most dangerous leaders on the counsel. Viktor believes that controlling these mindless creatures and imprisoning them will strengthen his rule. His favorite "pet" is the strong minded Lucian, a Lycan, who can control his turns from human to werewolf, and who is secretly in love with his daughter, the very independent Sonja. Believing that she has betrayed him (by mingling with the Lycans) and their kind (Vampires), Viktor decides that her demise is the only answer. Of course, Lucian fuelled by revenge, sorrow and regret responds with a swift attack, and soon learns that he has control over both those who are deemed wild and those who welcome leadership. We are soon privy to a battle between the two species that will go down in vamp/were history and prove to be foreshadowing for the Underworld series. And of course the movie ends with the beginning of the Underworld series and a glimpse of Selena (the very beautiful Kate Beckinsale), revisiting the tale.
I enjoyed this prequel to the Underworld series. I thought that Rhona Mitra's portrayal of Sonja was brilliant (and she definitely favors Beckinsale), and what isn't there to love about the brooding Bill Nighy who is all too real in as Viktor (I think he is the best vamp ever) and the long suffering Michael Sheen, who is the only person that I could see ever playing Lucian. I am even hoping to visit Underworld one more time. After all, I am sure that Selena and Michael could fight evil one more time.
- A worthy addition to the Underworld Franchise
This movie is the realized back story for the movie "Underworld". There is nothing revelational about this movie to the storyline of the franchise except for Lucian being the source of the modern day Lycans (ability to transform back into human form). This movie is basically about his development from childhood into the leader of the Lycans and also the love story between him and Sonia (Victor's daughter). The tie-ins of this movie to the other two were very well written. While viewing "Rise of the Lycans" is not necessary in order to make sense of the other two movies in the franchise, it definitely enriches them and basically adds more seasoning.
The action and battle sequences were exciting and very well done. But, while I enjoyed the movie, it lacks the plot twists and suspense of the original "Underworld". The acting is good, although I wish Victor would have had some better dialogue. Rhona Mitra was SUPERB as Sonia. Her resemblence to Kate Beckensale makes the viewer realize why Victor took Selene under his wing (instead of killing her along with her family). Selene is absent from this movie except for the final clip which happens to be the opening scene to "Underworld" (a good transition). IMHO, this movie ranks 2nd in the franchise. While "Underworld Evolution" was enoyable in its own right, the creatures of this franchise look more comfortable (and believable) in midieval times than in the modern day. If you own the other two movies on DVD/ Blu-ray, you'll definitely want to add this to your Underworld library....more info
- You can love it, or hate it. Either way it's Bloody Fun
There have already been many reviews on this movie complaining about this, that and the other and if you wanted to dismember it piece by piece, I'm sure you could also find a lot to pick fault with. Instead though, let's look at what the movie achieves for its targeted audience. A presquel? Seems to be the popular way these days with a good franchise, if you can't move the story forward, move it back, and give us some history. Strange that I thought that had been covered in some detail in the 1st and 2nd movie, but I digress.
Those thinking they will be disappointed by the exclusion of the lovely leather clad Kate Beckinsale as Selene, will not be too unhappy with Rhona Mitra (Doomsday/Shooter). She smolders more than sizzles, but definitely adds some sexual tension, as Viktor's hard to control daughter Sonja (remember the one who Selene reminded him off in the first movie?). Also back is Michael Sheen (fresh from playing David Frost, and English PM Tony Blair) with washboard abs, tight pants and AC/DC's old stage wardrobe as head of the Lycans - Lucien. Best of all of course, is we get lots and lots of Bill Nighy as Viktor. Machiavellian, brutal, sadistic and full of charm. You get a real sense that he loves playing the villain, with an almost campy panache. Visually, it's a little tighter, Patrick Tatapoulos takes over as Director from Len Wiseman. Not that this matters much, as neither of them have much sensibility when it comes to monsters and Sfx.
So anyway, the story - well you don't need to know really, Vampires, Werewolves, Swords, Sex & Action. This was not intended to test the grey matter and usually a movie franchise gets weaker with each installment, but that's not the case here, as there is an almost fresh feel to the story, even though we're retreading old ground so to speak. It IS entertaining, and it will do just that if you can suspend your disbelief enough.
Great fun 4 stars, just ask yourself 3 questions as the credits roll:
1) Why don't the Lycans attack while the sun is shining
2) How come all these immortals seem to be easily dispatched with swords?
3) And how come there is a full moon EVERY night?
- Aesteticly Beautiful
I am a big fanatic about werewolfs and This is another movie to add to the classics I think. it gives another look at werewolves that is not mentioned or thought of in most stories and movies. I love the lighting throughout the whole movie. it was beautiful. I was driving home after watching it the moon lit everything just like the movie and I just was hopping to hear some howling!!...more info