UNDERWORLD: RISE OF THE LYCANS
92 minutes approx
Written by -
Danny McBride & Dirk Blackman & Howard McCain
Directed by -
In the mists of time past, the vampires lived in a tall castle, taking tributes in silver from the local human nobles and feeding off slaves brought to them by those same nobles. The only threat to their existence were the lycans, men who had changed into wolves and who possessed the strength and ferocity to destroy them. Then Lucian was born, a lycan who could remain in human form. From him, the vampires bred a race of lycan slaves to protect them during the daylight hours, when they slept. All remained peaceful until Lucian fell in love with the daughter of Viktor, elder of the vampires.
UNDERWORLD and UNDERWORLD EVOLUTION told the tale of the end of the war between vampire and werewolf clans, fought with modern weapons in a modern age. RISE OF THE LYCANS takes the mythology back to the start. This allows the return of both Bill Nighy and Michael Sheen as old enemies Viktor and Lucian, two of the best things about the original. Of course, since we already know that these two survive through to UNDERWORLD we know that neither is going to die and so it’s hard for the film to build up any tension. We also know the fate of Rhona Mitra’s Sonja, so that doesn’t help matters any either. There’s a big Kate Beckinsale shaped hole at the centre of RISE OF THE LYCANS. Rhona Mitra has the action chops to fill it, but not the charisma or the looks that anchored the first two films. Bill Nighy is impressive as Viktor, but the character wanders all over the place, required to be both coldly ruthless and loving, the two undermining each other. Michael Sheen’s Lucian also suffers as his joy and love for Sonja takes away from the boiling rage that characterised him in the first film. By the time that Lucian appears, it is almost too late.
As with the other two films, the look of the thing is impressive, all dark and brooding and gothic. Otherworldly and out of time, it borrows from some of THE LORD OF THE RINGS Mordor sensibilities. Set against this impressive backdrop, though, the story is slight and struggles to fill its running time, leading to escapes and break ins and escapes and not one but two floggings of the same lycan. At least the final sequence delivers on the mayhem front as lycans overrun the castle and all out war develops. This is told in a confused welter of quick cuts and splashes of the red stuff, giving an impression of what this battle might really be like. The earlier brief bouts of action are more impressive, however, because they are easier to follow, so the bloodletting means more.
In the end, though, UNDERWORLD:RISE OF THE LYCANS fails to reignite a failed franchise. If the rumoured TV show comes about then moving it back to the modern world might save it.Top
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