Underworld: Rise of The Lycans DVD (Devil’s Advocate Review)
I enjoy vampire lore quite a bit, but when it comes down to mythical beasts, werewolves rank tops with me. So, by that rationale, Underworld: Rise of The Lycans ought to be the most appealing of the three Underworld films for me. Unfortunately, the Lycans are awfully mistreated and it does not sit well with me.
Now, don’t go calling PETA on the filmmakers just yet. My beef has to do with the lack of story devoted to the title creatures. The focus lies mainly on Lucian, the original lycanthropic miscreant responsible for fathering a giant litter of werewolves, that gets slightly overlooked in favor of the romantic subplot. Did I say “subplot”? I meant to say “movie”.
Yeah, the action and mythology takes a backseat to a tepid romance that really does very little for the ongoing story seen in the two original films. Which begs the question: why did the filmmakers chose to focus on “pseudo-historical” events for the final part of the trilogy?
Part of what made the first two films interesting was the manner in which the centuries old feud was handled in a modern day setting. The methodology used by the warring factions, coupled with the fact that they were supernatural creatures, gave viewers a take on both that hadn’t really been explored before. In this current installment, the werewolves are displayed as would be expected, but the vampires seem to only be vampires in a peripheral sense. They don’t delve into the essence of being a vampire in that time period and the lengths they might go to in the name of survival.
Michael Sheen reprises his role as Lucian the Lycan, and actually turns in a great performance. Every bit of anguish and hardship is felt due to his extraordinary acting capabilities. Unfortunately, they didn’t give Sheen much original material to work with. From the Braveheart like “freedom” speech to the Last of The Mohicans “I will come for you…” promise, it all seemed intentionally trite. Sheen powers through the bad writing though, whereas the rest of the cast seems to trudge through it, simply looking to get the job done.
The only two notable DVD features are the aptly titled Underworld: Rise of The Lycans: From Script to Screen and The Origin of The Feud. The Origin of The Feud is simply the director, actors, and producers re-explaining everything you just ascertained, regarding the feud, by watching the film itself. Really it adds nothing to the viewers understanding of this supernatural Hatfield and McCoy scenario. And the Script to Screen feature gives a bit of information regarding the timeline of filming and how things came together. The one interesting tidbit I gathered form the feature, was that the writers were in a race against time due to the WGA strike. This, to me, explains why the film truly paled in comparison to it’s predecessors.
This was a moderately entertaining film, which will satisfy some fans of the first two films. Others will note the missing nuances that made the originals worth watching.
In reality I would give the film, features and all, 3 out of 5 Pitchforks, since the film makes an earnest attempt to connect the mythos (which was the aspect of the first film I enjoyed the most) that was created to a history of some sort.
As the Devil’s Advocate I give the film 1 out of 5 Pitchforks, because of the glaring inequalities that separate it from the far superior previous installments.