The prequel story traces the origins of the centuries-old blood feud between the aristocratic vampires and their onetime slaves, the Lycans. In the Dark Ages, a young Lycan named Lucian emerges as a powerful leader who rallies the werewolves to rise up against Viktor, the cruel vampire king who has enslaved them. Lucian is joined by his secret lover, Sonja, in his battle against the Vampire army and his struggle for Lycan freedom.
I’ve never really been too horribly attached to the Underworld franchise. I’m not a mega fan of the films or anything. That’s not to say I disliked either one of the first two. I just watched them and thought they were cool. Enough said. Well, someone out there likes them enough to merit making more of them. Heck, they’re even successful enough to where they might be doing a television series based on them. But I guess we all know how well that fared for another vampire driven franchise called Blade. I do remember liking the second one (Evolution) better than the first. No matter, all this to get the point across that I really had no expectations going into Underworld: Rise of the Lycans. I just knew that I wanted to see a good vampire / werewolf battle film. I did have my reservations stemming from the fact that Kate Beckinsale and Scott Speedman weren’t going to be in it. The fact that the very charismatic Bill Nighy was returning as the vampire leader Viktor and Michael Sheen was coming back to play Lucian the Lycan eased my worry to an extent. Of course, the fact that a new director took over the reins from Len Wiseman was of some concern, as it always is when a franchise changes helmers.
Underworld: Rise of the Lycans is a prequel that “traces the origins of the centuries-old blood feud between the aristocratic vampires and their onetime slaves, the Lycans. In the Dark Ages, a young Lycan named Lucian emerges as a powerful leader who rallies the werewolves to rise up against Viktor, the cruel vampire king who has enslaved them. Lucian is joined by his secret lover, Sonja, in his battle against the Vampire army and his struggle for Lycan freedom.”
Well, what you get with Rise of the Lycans is an interesting mix of Braveheart, Spartacus, and then – of course – Underworld. You have the slave martyr who looks to lead his “kind” or people out of bondage and give them their freedom. Michael Sheen plays Lucian with spirit and conviction. He is completely convincing and serious in the role. Contrary to what most people think, Rhona Mitra is not playing Selene (Beckinsale’s role from the first two films). She is basically replacing that female role with her own as Sonja, daughter of the aristocratic and dangerously loyal council leader Viktor. She plays her role with a sort of passion and what looks like truly heartfelt pain for the tragic character she portrays. Of course, Bill Nighy plays Viktor with ferocity and aggression. He seems to always nail his parts, as seen in his role for Valkyrie.
New director Patrick Tatopoulos does a good job of hitting the same vibe established by Wiseman in the other two films. It is pretty cohesive and doesn’t carry that weird feeling you get sometimes when watching sequels to films that have changed hands. A perfect example of what I’m trying to get across is the way that you can tell the Harry Potter films have all been directed by different people. Sometimes it can help (Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire) and most of the time it ends up hurting (Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix).
Personally, I think Underworld: Rise of the Lycans does a good job at covering all genre grounds. It is dark enough to appeal to fans of horror and gothic films. It’s got enough beheadings and blood spraying to appease the gore fan. It also has enough battle scenes and sword fights, etc. to appeal to your action lover. Is this the best of the three? No way. Is it a good addition and does it give you something you didn’t have after going into it? Yes, if what you are looking for is the back story of the events in Underworld and Underworld: Evolution.
Source: Yahoo! Movies