Underworld: Rise of the Lycans is the prequel to the two other movies in the series; Underworld, and Underworld: Evolution. The film in question deals with the back story of two supernatural races, the vampires, also known as Death Dealers, and the Lycans – perhaps better known as werewolves.
The story begins back when the Lycans are the vampires’ slaves, forced to wear collars to prevent them from changing to their wolf form, and yet also expected to serve and protect them. A young Lycan called Lucian is elevated slightly above the rest of his race by the vampire king. Viktor trusts Lucian and, though he won’t admit it, has a soft spot for him. So although Lucian is not ‘free’ he enjoys certain privileges that the rest of the werewolves do not.
What Viktor does not realise, though, is that Lucian is enjoying the biggest privilege of all – Viktor’s daughter, Sonja. The two are in love and for obvious reasons are keeping their relationship a secret, knowing it would mean certain death for both of them.
As the years pass by, Lucian becomes more and more opposed to his slavery. Although he is not caged, he is all too aware of the fact that he and his brethren are not free. He begins making plans to break out of the fortress and become truly free, with some assistance from his lover, Sonja. The story unfolds not to an ending, but to a new beginning.
Michael Sheen (currently being seen in Frost/Nixon) was impressive as Lucian, particularly during the uprising. He was so convincing, his speeches so stirring, that even I wanted to join the Lycans! Rhona Mitra, playing Sonja wasn’t quite so good. I thought she was a tad wooden but I suppose it could have been down to the character she played, rather than her acting. Bill Nighy was, as always, top notch. He seems to be able to turn his hand to playing any type of character and do a good job of it, but he’s had plenty of practice; his CV reads like your average novel, after all.
Overall, an enjoyable film. The back story was thorough and really led you into the story – I was immediately engrossed in the action. I have to confess that I wasn’t overly keen on the wolves and werewolves – they certainly didn’t look real to me, but perhaps I’m more picky than most! The rest of the special effects were fantastic, though, in particular the fight scenes; it’s edge-of-your-seat stuff.
One laughable point, though, was the inevitable sex scene. You’d expect carnal relations between two immortals to be somewhat passionate and explosive. But no, it turned out to be rather airy-fairy. It was a really daft scene where they slowed everything down and set it to some soppy music. Obviously, the film wasn’t about sex, but given their love and passion for one another, I don’t feel the scene reflected this at all. Made me chuckle, in fact. Still, worth catching the movie…
2 February 2009