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Very rarely do prequels match up with their predecessors. As I'm not
the biggest Underworld fan, I can honestly say that I wasn't expecting
much. However, I should've expected more, as the latest, yet earliest
installment is easily my favorite in the series. It ain't art, but it's
the shining example of why we go to the movies: to escape into a world
of mythology, fantasy, and crazy vampire/werewolf action.
For the first time in the series, the filmmakers have decided to leave out the rock that probably was the reason the films have been successful: Kate Beckinsale. I'm guessing this was a production risk/choice, but it seems to have paid off. Selene's absence from the story is necessary to tell the story of how the Lycans rose to power, how Viktor was driven insane (though we pretty much already know how), and, as off topic as it may be, how simply awesome Michael Sheen is.
Very rarely do the actors make an action movie good. Most action movies rely on explosions and (surprise!) action to enhance the quality and generally feature run of the mill copycat characters. Sheen's Lucian and Bill Nighy's Viktor will always stand out in the realm of action/fantasy characters to me, and it's easy to see why. Sheen's turn as Lucian is fierce, determined, and one of my favorite performances in an action movie I've seen in years. Despite playing a (mostly) villainous role in the first film, Lucian is the hero of this film, and it totally gives you a new spin on things. Sheen's brave and dedicated performance really makes the character work, while Bill Nighy is once again effectively creepy as Viktor. Rhona Mitra's presence as Sonja is welcome, though she doesn't carry the same charisma that Beckinsale does, making her an ill advised choice to be Selene's replacement (as she so obviously is).
The action in Underworld, though obviously restrained by a lower budget, is once again great. There's some nice dueling, the obvious gore and blood galore, and a nice Lord of the Rings style battle at the end. What it comes down to is that Underworld does nothing new, but does everything right in maintaining a steady river of entertainment. I was never bored, and I don't think you will be either.
The film does answer a lot of questions and provides some nice insight to the Lycans (which were my favorite parts about the first two films), though it suffers from the same fate as most prequels do...even a casual viewer of this series knows which characters will live, which will die, and how it will end. The film isn't really about the resolution, but rather the journey to the end. In fact, it's made in such a way that you can certainly watch the trilogy in chronological order.
When it comes down to it, I liked 'Lycans' a lot. It's a worthy installment in the series, and certainly not a disappointment to me. It's got good action, a wonderful lead performance from Michael Sheen, and should satisfy fans of the series and fans of mythological stories altogether.
I came back about an hour ago from the 3:45 showing here in Toronto.
I've seen the first two movies, and I have to say I'm glad they brought
back Michael Sheen and Bill Nighy; the second film just wasn't quite
the same without those two. Lucian is the character you love to
sympathize for and Viktor is the character you love to hate.
I'm so very glad the story was more focused on Lucian as it's a nice change from Selene and Michael being in the spotlight (not to mention Michael Sheen's arguably superior acting ability). As for Rhona Mitra, I won't say she was better than Kate Beckinsale but I can't say she was any less of an asset. Not only did she look great, but she executed her lines superbly. I will however say that I find Sonja's character much more interesting than Selene's. The chemistry between Lucian and Sonja was much better than that of the chemistry between Michael and Selene.
The story was much more intriguing, emotional and tragic than that of either of the previous two expeditions (this being of course subjective), as many who recall the flashbacks presented within will agree. It was also faithful to the material, and it's good that they didn't compromise for the sake of "improving" the story.
Overall, I can't think of another prequel that brought such raw emotion to the table, and regardless of the fact that Len Wiseman was not directing this one (though he was at the helm in other ways), you wouldn't know by watching it as it did a good job maintaining the same feel as the first two. The score also added to a lot of the emotion.
In regards to the possibility of a 4th movie: if they choose to continue on from this prequel as I think they should, they should bring in Amelia as she is one of the few characters that has yet to be explored fully.
What I wanted...I wanted an epically filmed visceral movie wherein
thousands of Lycans are pitted against thousands of Vampires in full
armor on horseback. Wow! What a great movie THAT would have been.
What I got...was somehow...better. I honestly can't say that I'm disappointed, although I just KNEW I would be if they left off that bit. What they give us is story-driven rather than effects or action-driven. I know that sounds ridiculous when talking about a movie in which action and effects are completely necessary in order to properly tell the story, but in all too many cases, they end up overshadowing the story and eliminating any sense of storytelling. I am happy to say that such is not the case with Underworld: Rise of the Lycans.
I won't spoil the movie as so many have. I will say that the obvious parallels between Sonja and Selene's characters are endearing, and Sonja's love of Lucien is breathtaking. The overall feel of the movie is as dark and Gothic as the original work, beautifully echoing the brilliance of that film which caught us so by surprise in September of 2003.
This still leaves a few small questions, and I would have loved to see Kraven make the deal with Lucien and cut Viktor's mark off of him, but you can't have everything, and all in all, this will run back to front with the original. All that's left now, is an extension of the Story of Underworld: Evolution; one that either gives the viewers a satisfactory ending, or perpetuates the species...of Underworld films, that is.
All in all? This ROCKS!
It rates an 8.4/10 from...
the Fiend :.
In a nutshell:
The GOOD: The storyline is great. It's a very appropriate prequel for the Underwolrd series. DEFINITELY for fans, and also for anyone that want to start getting into the series. There's a BONUS at the end.
The acting is believable and somehow very emotional. Although, nothing Oscar-worthy, it's really worthy of your time.
The special effect is quite amazing. Looks like those 1980's horror flick. Very classic, in a way.
The tone is everything! I really love the moody tone of the movie. Very effective in this type of movies.
The BAD: Although I mentioned some goods there are a few bads. Everything just wasn't enough.
The castle looks very small. Hence, really takes away the epic feeling to it.
The war was also quite small. Walking into the theater, I was hoping for an epic war between the Vampire and the Lycans. But no, the fight focuses on the main characters.
I was also expecting more for the special effects and costumes. Especially in this era of movie-making. The filmmakers should've gone a step further in bringing us the realism of the picture.
OVERALL: Underworld: Rise of the Lycans is a great movie to catch. Full of drama and action. Definitely worth the money and time, especially for fans.
If you are a fan of either of the first two Underworld movies you are going to like this one as well. This movie seems to take place a short time after the creation of both races but some time before the events that open Underworld Evolution. The entire story of the feud between the vampires and lycans is told in 90 minutes with plenty of action interspersed throughout. My only complaint is that the movie could have been longer with more character development. An hour and a half is hardly enough time to tell a love story, which is what is at the heart of this movie. Also, a little more depth could have been given to Raze's character as his origins are shown but not in much detail. These plot points are sacrificed to keep the action scenes rolling but the action is great. There are several clashes between vamps and lycans that put those of the first two movies to shame. The special effects are amazing as usual. My hope is that Rise of the Lycans will do well at the box offices and we will all be treated to an extended directors cut on DVD. The plot themes of slavery, forbidden love, and revolution could use a little more screen time in my opinion. Oh and lets all hope for another sequel.
I was hoping it would be good yet I didn't expect it to be 'this' good.
Honestly, this was 'so' well paced. Actually got me anxious, and thats a bit of a rarity. And in a good way.
First off the story was very interesting from start to finish and the script very well crafted. All of the elements... Love, machismo, heroic, underdog, special abilities, honor, suspense, scandal, comradeship, good vs bad just so many elements. However the difference with this film is they were all intertwined so well. Not the usual 'chemistry cocktail' roll of the dice.
The cinematic hat trick... acting, directing and the written story itself all melted like cheese on a hot Philly steak.
I understand the "Category" this film falls near however, over all very well crafted. Some other "Film Makers" should take a few lessons.
I hope there's another.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
I was going to wait until Sunday to go see this with my niece and her
friends but I was a little apprehensive about how violent it was and
wanted to check it out first...Okay, okay, that was part of the reason.
The other reason I went to the first matinée showing on opening day was
because I was so *nervous* about this film. I so wanted to like the
Underworld franchise. I love fantasy, sci-fi and especially vampires
and werewolves. I am always anxious to see how another writer, actor,
director or other artist brings them to life (er, so to speak). I,
however, have never been quite so underwhelmed and disappointed as with
the first two of this series. I can appreciate what Len Wiseman and
Patrick Tatapoulos were trying to achieve with their new version of
werewolves - "lycans" - but I was actually embarrassed by their world's
version of vampires. What a bunch of poseurs! Well, Bill Nighy aside.
Even Kate Beckinsale, whom I do like as an actress, failed to give me,
a female, that "you go girl" pumped-up feeling about a tough-as-nails
heroine. In fact - and I'm not so sure this hasn't been the intention
all along - it gave me a whole new appreciation for werewolves. Oh yes,
and Michael Sheen.
I'm not even really going to touch on Underworld: Evolution because it was excruciating to sit through and, except for Tony Curran (Marcus) and getting to see the proto-werewolf, William, it was a waste of celluloid. Underworld 3 *should* have been Underworld 2 (or 1, even).
So, hence my apprehension. I really wanted this movie to be good, but had already been fooled twice by this franchise. What brought me back? Three things: Len Wiseman *wasn't* directing, Kate Beckisnale's Selene character was *not* an integral part of this plot, and Michael Sheen's Lucian was. Lucian and Viktor (Nighy) were the only things that kept me in that theater seat in the first installment. (The second I watched on a Starz movie channel, couldn't even bring myself to rent it.) Well, I went and saw it and my anxiety has abated and I somehow feel...vindicated. This movie seriously rocked it out. First of all, it made sense. I had to watch the first movie a few more times (in pieces) to really get a grasp of the whole story. Second, the characters were engaging. Rhona Mitra, while not really allowed to show off much but her gorgeous figure and face, was still a much more sympathetic character than Selene ever was. (Edit: After a second viewing, I've had a new appreciation for Mitra. She plays a perfect tough but tender kinda broad and that final scene between her and Sheen...guhhhh! Ripped my heart out.) And maybe this is because I'm a girl but I seriously missed the romance from the first two. (Truly, the Sonya/Lucian angle was the only one - forget whatever that was between Selene and Michael...and what *was* that???) Third, the creatures are absolutely fantastic in this. Rarely did I ever get that feeling in this film that I was playing a video game. And fourth- well, actually fourth and fifth- Michael Sheen and Bill Nighy. I don't know if it's their British accents (to my American ear) that allow them to bring gravity to an otherwise sparse script, or the fact that I'm still trying to rectify in my mind that these are the same guys that I just saw in "Frost/Nixon" and "Notes on a Scandal", respectively. Michael Sheen a sex symbol? Yeah, believe it. I'd love a nice life-size Lucian poster for my room. *blushes* Ahem, anyway, where was I...
...Right. The movie is only an hour and a half long and it flew by for me. The other two were hovering closer to two hours and they both felt twice as long and I was fidgety in my seat the whole time. It is a violent movie, natch, but with the bullets replaced by arrows, it was no less bloody but maybe a bit less jarring and a little easier on the eardrums. And maybe I enjoyed it a bit more this time with a nice balance of romance. It's no Academy Award winner, but then again I don't put much faith in Oscar these days. If you've never seen the other two movies, don't feel you have to see them to appreciate this one. It is a prequel but should have been first. It is a nice bit of fantasy escapism. If you are delicate about violence and gloom, this might not be for you, but I for one am looking forward eagerly to seeing it again on Sunday.
Underworld: Rise of the Lycans : In this prequel we get little of Romeo and Juliet and a dash of Spartacus. The vampires have bred themselves a race of Lycan slaves to guard them during the daylight hours, but when Lucian, the favored pet of Viktor the ruling vampire, falls in love with his daughter things go bad rather quickly. The CGI werewolves are leaps and bounds better than their previous incarnations in this series and the only CGI complaint I have is to the occasionally bad CGI blood spray. Rhona Mitra makes for a hot vampire, and Bill Nighy and Michael Sheen return to chew up some nice scenery. After watching the big battle one is forced to ask the question that pops up after watching any of the Underworlds movies, "How did the Lycans lose the war?" Seriously, the vampires in these films are as fragile as a 1978 Ford Pinto.
"Rise of the Lycans", on the surface, makes a perfectly well working
prequel. The loss of Kate Beckinsale and Scott Speedman is compensated
by a great Rhona Mitra and especially Michael Sheen's titanic effort.
The look and the action are amazing, considering the somewhat lower
budget, and the story makes sense to prepare us all for the things to
come in the other two movies. All in all, the trilogy is round now and
does not disappoint in any department, unless you are taking everything
a bit too literally and wonder how werewolves can make babies.
It is interesting, however, to peek below the surface. The makers mentioned in interviews they see similarities to "Romeo & Juliet" insofar as Lucien and Sonja are lovers not allowed to get together. One crucial difference, however, is that Romeo and Juliet came from two noble families, whereas in "Rise of the Lyans", Sonja is a member of the aristocratic pale vampire rulers, who are sipping glasses of blood on the castle, while Lucien is with the ugly, hairy slaves, the werewolves exploited as cheap labor force. We don't really get to see what this work consists of except carrying stones around. Also the love story isn't explained enough in the running time of not much more than 80 minutes PAL until the credits start to roll. But the point is that "Rise of the Lycans" is a hardly disguised class struggle story. Similar to the Italian socialist cinema of the 1960s which would show the rebellion of poor farmers against the rich property owners, the working class has to realise their value (in Lucien's words: "we are more than animals") and claim their human rights. When Lucien says "this is just the beginning", it may seem to the audience that he jokingly refers to other other two movies which have shown us already how the story continues after this prequel. In the subtext, though, he is making a very serious statement that freedom is the foundation of a life worth living, and everything else will be built up now upon this basic condition. It's a pity that the movie doesn't elaborate more on that and doesn't spend some additional time on the character development, either, because it could have been the best of the trilogy. Alas, I voted almost equally 8-7-7 for the three movies.
When the human son of a werewolf is born in a cell, the evil leader of
the clan of vampires Viktor (Bill Nighy) spares his life and names him
Lucian; forces him to transform other humans in the new breed Lycan;
and raises him as a slave wearing a leash to control his ability. Along
the years, Lucian (Michael Sheen) becomes a brave warrior with a great
leadership over the other Lycans, protecting the aristocratic vampires
during the daylight against the vicious and infectious breed of
werewolves that are unable to take human form ever again. However,
Viktor's daughter Sonja (Rhona Mitra) and Lucian are lovers and they
secretly meet each other every now and then. When Lucian unleashes and
transforms in a werewolf to save the life of Sonja in a battle against
the werewolves, Viktor sentences him to be brutally whipped thirty
times and then imprisons him in the dungeon. However, Sonja saves
Lucian and he escapes with other prisoners to the woods. When Viktor
discovers that Sonja is pregnant and in love with Lucian, he locks her
up in her room to force Lucian to return to the castle to rescue her,
in the beginning of the feud between the two bloodlines.
I usually do not like prequels and sequels of successful movies, but "Underworld: Rise of the Lycans" is an excellent prequel of one of the best trilogies I have ever seen, and maybe the best of the three great movies. The tragic romance between Sonja and Lucian has elements of Romeo and Juliet and is engaging, providing a great justification to the beginning of the feud between vampires and Lycans. The cinematography is wonderful giving a stylish support to the outstanding screenplay. Rhona Mitra resembles Kate Beckinsale that makes a cameo in the very last scene, and shows a great chemistry with Michael Sheen. My vote is eight.
Title (Brazil): "Anjos da Noite A Rebelião" ("Angels of the Night The Rebellion")
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