Review: ‘Underworld: Rise of the Lycans’
‘Underworld: Rise of the Lycans’ is a film that doesn’t work right from the stage of concept.Ã‚ In fact, the whole film is just one bad idea after another.Ã‚ Remember ‘Funny Farm’ starring Chevy Chase?Ã‚ Remember when the one mover referred to the covered bridge as Ã¢â‚¬Å“termites holding handsÃ¢â‚¬ ?Ã‚ ‘Underworld: Rise of the Lycans’ is bad ideas holding hands.Ã‚ Even the title is a bad idea.Ã‚ ‘Underworld: Rise of the Lycans’.Ã‚ Aren’t we about done with the whole ‘…Rise of the…’ titles?Ã‚ Lame as they may be, wouldn’t ‘Underworld Rising’ or ‘Underworld: The Beginning’ have been better titles?Ã‚ Just a digression.
Something happened very early on while I was watching this film.Ã‚ I found myself getting bored.Ã‚ Here is a film about vampires enslaving werewolves in medieval times, and the werewolves deciding to free themselves resulting in a war, and I’m sitting there getting bored by it.Ã‚ Why, you may ask?Ã‚ For starters, the film is 90 minutes long.Ã‚ It feels like it lasts about a day and a half.Ã‚ The reason for this is that it takes a 10-minute story and stretches it out to feature length.Ã‚ Not only that, but it is a 10-minute story that we have already had told and shown to us in a previous ‘Underworld’ movie.Ã‚ Whoever felt the need to go back and tell this prequel story should have their head examined.
And I’m not saying prequels are inherently a bad idea.Ã‚ If you are going to make a prequel to a film, make sure the story you are telling with the film is something we either don’t know anything about or have only heard briefly about in the previous films.Ã‚ ‘Star Wars’ is a good example of this.Ã‚ Say what you will about the prequels, they showed us the Clone Wars, and that is something that we had only heard of in quick conversations.
‘Underworld: Rise of the Lycans’ takes a story that we know pretty well and decides to retell it.Ã‚ We know all about Viktor, the Death Dealers, the Lycans, Lucian, and Sonja.Ã‚ If you haven’t seen any other ‘Underworld’ movies, maybe this film will have something to offer you.Ã‚ If you have seen the other films, even if you are a big fan of either or both of them, this film offers nothing for you.
Okay, even if you are going to do what this film does and just reiterate something we already know, bring some fresh ideas to it.Ã‚ Introduce some major characters that we haven’t seen before.Ã‚ Every major character in this film, and even some ancillary ones, are characters that pop back up in one of the two other films.Ã‚ Any suspense that may come from how these characters will end up is completely wasted by this.
Not even the special effects are up to par.Ã‚ The director, Patrick Tatopoulos, is a renowned production designer who has worked on films like ‘Bram Stoker’s Dracula’, ‘Stargate’, and the other ‘Underworld’ films.Ã‚ He makes his directorial debut here, and, honestly, the production level is quite good.Ã‚ The costumes and sets are finely detailed and bring out the Gothic cool thematics the previous films had.Ã‚ Of course, the sets and the costumes are squandered since the guy doesn’t seem to know his way around a camera.Ã‚ We get extreme closeups on pale faces (vampires) and bushy beards (werewolves).Ã‚ The fight scenes are totally incomprehensible by these closeups.Ã‚ We get the occasional splatter of blood or gore, so we know things are happening, but what they are and who is doing it is completely lost.
Of course, once Tatopoulos does decide to pull back and show us some grander scheme of things, we notice how lousy the CG werewolves are.Ã‚ It’s pretty much a lose/lose situation with direction like this.Ã‚ It’s almost unthinkable that Len Wiseman would be a welcome return to the franchise, but it’s true.
It is great to see Bill Nighy and Michael Sheen reprise their roles as Viktor and Lucian, respectively.Ã‚ Sheen, in particular, is a welcome sight.Ã‚ Both of these men bring a level of sincerity to the rest of the silliness, and they almost hold your interest for the full running time.Ã‚ Rhona Mitra was a fine choice, but when you consider the series went from Kate Beckinsale to her, you see the drop off in quality almost instantly.
If the ‘Underworld’ franchise continues, hopefully they will rid themselves of this notion that they have to do a prequel.Ã‚ Continue the series where the second film left off.Ã‚ At the very least, tell us something we don’t already know backwards and forwards.Ã‚ ‘Underworld: Rise of the Lycans’ has nothing to offer either returning fans of the series or new fans who are coming in fresh.Ã‚ It is simply a film whose mere existence is unwarranted.
[Overall: 1.75 stars out of 5]