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Underworld: Rise of the Lycans – Review

18 Jun

In my honest opinion, I wasn’t too thrilled to watch Underworld: Rise of the Lycans. I thought, “Really? A prequel? And no Selene!” I felt like a prequel wasn’t very necessary and the gunplay and technology of the first two are part of what makes the movies so cool. But, I had to watch this one, and I have to say, I’m really surprised.

It’s the Dark Ages and vampire elder Viktor (Bill Nighy) has the new race of lycans enslaved. Lucien (Michael Sheen), the first lycan, is in a secret romantic relationship with Viktor’s daughter, Sonja (Rhona Mitra), which serves as the catalyst for Lucien to rise up against the vampires and rally the other lycans to make their stand for freedom. This is the beginning of the war between the vampires and the lycans that has raged on for hundreds of years.

My favorite part of this film was being able to see, in full, what has been talked about or briefly shown in flashback over the course of the first two films. As I’ve said before, the Underworld films have a great mythology that was created, and now being able to see some of the mythology explained is a real treat. For example, it’s cool to see the origins of the lycans and how that changed the world of the vampires and werewolves.

Unlike the other films, I have absolutely no qualms about the acting. Bill Nighy kills it once again. He is cold, meticulous, and brutal which make him an excellent villain. He was only in the first one at the end and in the sequel in the beginning, but here he gets a full length movie to be evil. It was good to see Michael Sheen again. His performance is really powerful and heartfelt. I could tell that he was really into his role and not just there for a paycheck. Rhona Mitra was the weakest link here, but not bad by any means. She gave a solid performance without ever going beyond what was asked.

The look of this movie is stunning. Filming was done in New Zealand, but make no mistake, this film looks nothing like Lord of the Rings. There’s no green to be found here, rather what looks like a winter from hell. The castle of the vampires radiates gothic from every corner, chandelier, and bedroom. It looks absolutely fantastic, but that’s what I’ve come to expect from the Underworld movies.

Something that was a little disappointing was that some things didn’t happen exactly like what was explained or slightly revealed. I feel like I’m either nitpicking or completely wrong, but one scene in particular was different than a flashback that was shown in the first film. The basic event of this scene was correct, but the location and timing were wrong. The span of time that this whole event took place was longer than it was in the first and the blocking of characters was different. This is a very small complaint, but it really bugged me for some reason.

I will still say that, so far, the second film is my favorite, but Rise of the Lycans is a close second. It had great atmosphere, character development, revelations, and a surprising amount of emotion. As I said with the second film, this isn’t going to change any minds for the people who didn’t like the first two films. For those who are fans of the first two, this movie is just for you.

Side Note: I really don’t understand why these films aren’t more popular. I’d love to sit down and have a conversation about these films, but it seems like no one is really willing to. Where are all of you?

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