Sunday, January 25, 2009
ANOTHER GOOD UNDERWORLD
UNDERWORLD: RISE OF THE LYCANS (B+)
I have loved the Underworld series from the opening scene of the first film. Kate Beckinsale's gentle yet forceful monologue as the screen pans to a dark image of our immortal Death Dealer perched upon a balcony window waiting to strike with the heavy rain pouring down upon her. The series started strong, and finished the same way. The newest and final installment of Underworld, Rise of the Lycans, is just what any fan of the series would love to see. The war we watched in the first two films between vampires and werewolves is given a foundation as we get to see how the conflict began. The film is headed by the the most powerful Lycan, Lucian. (Michael Sheen) He and all his fellow Lycans are the slaves to the aristocratic vampires. Viktor (Bill Nighy) makes sure that all Lycans are treated like useless slaves and even uses the deadly Lucian to protect his kin. The film gets interesting early as we see the cause of the entire war to come...a love story. A forbidden love story.
Our female lead is named Rhona Mitra, and she plays Viktor's daughter Sonja. Rhona by the way, is absolutely 100% gorgeous. She was chosen for her resemblance to Kate Beckinsale, the series embellishes on this point more if you watch. Ok. So Rhona is just as hot in leather, playing a vampire as Kate Beckinsale was. So that is a plus seeing as this Underworld installment does not feature the heroine from the first two films. Sonja is destined to be a vampire elder, which are chosen to lead all the vampires through the ages. She betrays this birthright by falling in love with the Lucian, the Lycan leader. The lovers are able to keep their relationship low key for only so long, as the Lycans are pushed to a revolution. They no longer want to serve the vampires, and decide to fight for their freedom. Viktor then learns of his daughters betrayal and the anarchy at hand. The war then escalates from there.
This film, like the other two Underworlds, has its own flavor. Very dark and ominous scenes. This film, like the others has plenty of action and gore to follow the story. One thing I thought was different was the way the action scenes played out. Many scenes were incomprehensible, just violent flashes of the battle unfolding. Much different style from the first two with Matrix like slow motion shots of wondrous brutal encounters. Rise of the Lycans was directed by a first time director named Patrick Tatopoulos, whereas the first two were directed by Underworld creator himself Len Wiseman.* (luckiest man on earth....married to Kate Beckinsale) Why Wiseman gave up the helm to a newcomer is anybody's guess...but the film was definitely not as good without him. The script was very well done; little slow moving at times, but was always building towards something. Acting was good overall as well. The chemistry between our lovers Lucian and Sonja was very real, and makes the ending of this film even more devastating for the viewer. All in all, you like Underworld, you will love this film. I wouldn't suggest anyone see this without having seen the first two. The trilogy is finally complete, and this piece of the puzzle fits in very nicely.
* He's on the hit list...
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