I watched Underworld: Rise of the Lycans with my boyfriend tonight. Despite the lackluster critical reviews, I really enjoyed the film. I think it’s because I’ve always been fan of the entire franchise from the beginning. I thought Rise of the Lycans was way, way better than Evolution. I think it lends to the better cast. And it rises up to the cult-like level of Underworld, the first movie.
I did sorely miss Kate Beckinsale as Selene, though. I think she remains as one of my top favorite heroines of all time. She was all dark and broody, but still somewhat idealistic and innately good. She walked the line of being delicate and impossibly powerful with such grace and finesse, that even in the large story gaps of Evolution, you still wanted to believe her.
Rhona Mitra did a decent job as Sonja, the daughter of Viktor. But I still think she didn’t pull of “defiant” quite as well as Kate Beckinsale did. On the other hand, she filled in the role of hot, sexy, strong vampire warrior that Beckinsale left open in this segment of the series.
Michael Sheen made the small part of Lucien (and his utterly dismal death in the first movie) seem larger than life. I believed his character. He wasn’t so much as the most powerful Lycan ever, as he was portrayed in the first movie, rather than an inordinately good leader. He is the kind of leader that starts off with great ideals, only to be corrupted by loss, grief, rage and the desire for revenge.
Finally, Bill Nighy…oh he is a GREAT ONE. In almost every role he portrays, I have loved him. I missed him greatly in the second installment of the series, and was extremely gratified in his role in this prequel. Oh, Bill…he makes Viktor such a beautiful, complex character. The heartless warlord. The ruthless slave overlord. The Vampire King. The Devoted Father. The stone-cold ruler who would stop at nothing to keep the status quo. His performance was fabulous. I especially loved two particular scenes. One, right after he says, “aye” in voting to have Sonja, his only daughter, sentenced to death. The deep grief on his face, the way his head lowers ever so slightly until his head is bent low, weighed down by the import of his choice–awesome! The second scene is him, clutching almost desperately, to the bedpost of Sonja’s empty bed, right after he leaves her to her death. He is holding the post so tight, leaning heavily against it like his whole world had collapsed and he just needed that support. His eerily blue eyes glowed with unnatural grief. I actually felt sorry for him–and he’s the bad guy in the movie.
The action scenes were fabulous. Each time the create the new Underworld movie, the Lycan’s become more and more awesome. The shapeshifting becomes more seamless, and the monsters look more savage. I love it!
Finally, even if it isn’t Oscar-worthy material, it is extremely, extremely entertaining as a movie. It’s not one that will leave you pondering about life and love and all sorts of heavy issues but rather, it leaves you with something fun to talk about over wine and discuss a storyline that is just so out of this world that it’s the Underworld.
I give it a solid B.