Underworld: Rise of the Lycans is another entry in the dark world of Underworld. Did I mention that it was dark? Yes, I know we’re talking vampires (allergic to sunlight) and werewolves (like moons), but come on… a little more daylight couldn’t have killed too many vamps, could it?
This time, we see how the Lycans (led again by Michael Sheen as Lucian) broke free from their vampire oppressors (led once again by Bill Nighy as Viktor) before the first Underworld movie was released back in… 2003. Wow. Kate Beckinsdale looked great in those tight fitting leather clothes in 2003 and again in 2006 in Underworld: Evolution. She even makes a brief appearance at the end of Rise of the Lycans, which I thought was a nice touch…
Where was I? Oh yes… back to the Lycans. Instead of the beautiful Kate, we have the beautiful Rhona Mitra playing Sonja, Viktor’s daughter. Why doesn’t Sonja show up in the first two movies? Well, you’ll find out by the end of this one.
The Lycans are a group of werewolf-like creatures that become very primal when they change. That was until Lucian was born, a Lycan who could change between human and Lycan forms. Viktor almost killed him at birth, but decided to see what he could do.
So Lucian was allowed to grow up as a slave of the vampires and train to be a fine warrior and blacksmith. Viktor decided that it might be a good thing to keep Lucian around and let him bite a few other humans to create more of these human-variety Lycans. They were chained up and used to protect the vampire holdings during the day while the vampires slept…
Any time you try and chain an animal forever, the chains eventually chaffe. Lucian and his Lycans were no different. Of course, there was a small wrinkle… Lucian and Sonja were lovers. Daddy would definitely not approve, so they snuck around like Romeo and Juliette. And we all know secrets don’t last forever.
That said… I thought this was a decent movie in the Underworld universe. It wasn’t spellbinding. I think the first one was still the best in that regard. They’re all derivative of White Wolf‘s “World of Darkness” (a series of roleplaying games that started in the 1990s and dealt with the world of vampires and werewolves). Mix vampires and werewolves, add in some Romeo and Juliette and a bit of Gladiator, and look… you have an Underworld movie.
Rise of the Lycans dragged in a few places, but I thought overall it worked fine. I now understand more of the backstory and why Lucian hated the vampires so much in the first movie.
And I thought Mitra did a fine job stepping into a role quite similar to her role in Doomsday a year or so ago. She can certainly kick butt and take names. Kate did it better, but maybe that’s just because she did it first (though historically, Sonja came before Kate’s Selene).
Anyway… I’ll give Underworld: Rise of the Lycans 2.5 out of 4. The fight scenes were fun and the backstory filled in some holes in the Underworld universe. We’ll see where Len Wiseman and company take the story next.
p.s. Pick up either of the first two Underworld movies at Amazon:
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