Thanks for checking out our Underworld: Rise of the Lycans review.
I was beyond excited when I first heard about the original Underworld movie. I mean come on… werewolves versus vampires! Does a geek need to hear anything else to get his blood pumping? The answer is no. Add on top of that a hot as hell Kate Beckinsale dressed in tight leather fighting the armies of the night. Sign me up! Unfortunately the movie didn’t quite live up to it’s potential. It had fantastic style and a great mythology behind it, but it suffered in its execution. It did introduce us to my all time favorite movie vampire however… Viktor! Then came Underworld 2 and it was… how do I put this? A giant sack of crap. It’s just best that we all treat it like Highlander 2 and just forget it ever existed.
When they first announced that there would be a third Underworld film I was extremely apprehensive (because the second one was so bad and he story seemed to have nowhere left to go), until I found out that it was going to be a prequel. An Underworld movie about the old war. Showing the Vampires in all their glory and the Lycans in all their savagery. This was the Underworld movie I had been waiting to see. Did it deliver on all my hopes and dreams? No… but it was still quite good and without a doubt the best Underworld film to date.
THE GENERAL IDEA
The synopsis for Underworld: Rise of the Lycans looks something like this: “This prequel story traces the origins of the centuries-old blood feud between the aristocratic vampires known as Death Dealers 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 Death Dealer army and his struggle for Lycan freedom. FX artist Patrick Tatopoulos, who developed the creatures for the first two films, is directing.”
The term “all killer no filler” comes to mind here. Very little precious screen time is wasted on us puny humans (except as Vampire or Lycan food). Almost every second of this film is spent with either Vampires or Lycans on the screen. Usually pissed off at each other… often killing each other. For a film like Underworld this is a total positive because it seems like the producers are finally starting to clue in to the fact that in a werewolf/vampire movie… we wanna see werewolves fighting vampires. Now if only Michael Bay can learn the same lesson with Transformers… but I digress.
The visual effects for this film… when you really consider how small the production budget was… are amazing. You have to understand that by Hollywood standards the budget on Underworld: Rise of the Lycans was beyond tiny. Oh there are times that the effects look like they came from 2002, but I was very impressed with what they were able to pull off.
One of the big risks and problems with doing sequels is that you can end up doing stuff that is totally inconsistent with the other films. I like to call this the “Phantom Menace Effect” (what the hell do you mean Darth Vader built C3PO? Huh… Obi Wan doesn’t remember R2D2?). But Underworld 3 totally nails the issue of consistency… probably better than I’ve ever seen a prequel done before. Everything fits perfectly and flows seamlessly into the events of the first Underworld film. Not an easy task… but they did it very well.
The battle scenes were done often and well. I won’t say they were mind blowing or anything like that… but there was good quality and quantity in terms of violence for certain… especially the bigger battle scene. The film is guilty of a bit of shaky cam during the fights… but it wasn’t bad enough to detract from the fights overall.
Viktor is still the coolest Vampire ever
Oh dear heavens… this movie has one of the WORST sex/love scenes in the history of werewolf vs. vampire movies. Ok, one of the worst of any kind of films. It just sort of comes out of nowhere… feels awkward as hell… has absolutely zero heat to it and by the end doesn’t even pay you off with so much as a Rhona boob shot.
While Viktor is still the baddest vampire on the block… this movie almost neutered him a little bit. He was not nearly as menacing or “all powerful” as he was in the first Underworld film. This MIGHT be considered a tiny bit of a spoiler… but in the first Underworld film Lucian’s big plan was to create a Half Vampire/Half Werewolf creature that could potentially stand a chance in a fight against Viktor… because no one can stand toe to toe with Viktor and last more than 5 seconds. Not Lucian, not anyone. Viktor was just too powerful. But in this film, Viktor and Lucian go toe to toe and almost seem like equals. It’s a minor point, but one that bothered me nonetheless.
Yes, I already said the quality and quantity of the visual effects in Underworld 3 were extremely impressive considering the budget… but you don’t just get a free pass because of your budget. This is still a Hollywood film and as such we expect a certain level of quality to the movie done with some consistency. So while I have no idea how they pulled off so much with so little… you still have to dig them for how poor (by proper Hollywood standards) some of the visual effects looked.
The movie lacked one of the strong elements of the first Underworld film. STYLE. With all the weaknesses of the first film, you were always taken with it’s pure visual/fanionable/cultural and mythological STYLE… especially of the vampire covens. This film didn’t have any of that. Instead of living in plush decadence, the vampire city seems dreary, cold and as lifeless as their own vampire hearts. Too bad.
Underworld: Rise of the Lycans succeeds in all the areas is needed to in order to deliver a fun time at the movies while failing to deliver what it required to make it really special. The wussing out a bit of Viktor, some bad visual effects and lack of real style are overcome just enough by the pure amount of Vampires fighting Vampires, the effectiveness of the continuity with the first Underworld film and the decent performances by Michael Sheen, Bill Nighy and Rhona Mitra to end up being the best of the franchise so far and worth a trip to the movie theater. Overall I give Underworld: Rise of the Lycans a 7 out of 10.