Dir: Patrick Tatopoulos - feature film directorial debut
Cast: Michael Sheen, Rhona Mitra, Bill Nighy, Kevin Grevioux, Steven Mackintosh, Tania Nolan
Seen: January 26, 2009 at Scotiabank Theatre Toronto
Reason to see: I loved the first Underworld
What a whirlwind of energy the Underworld trilogy is! The first film, Underworld was released in 2003 and I loved it. A new take on vampires in a current day setting battling against Lycans (sentient werewolves) all the while looking awesome and kicking butt. Then in 2006 we had Underworld: Evolution which was a disappointment in terms of story and gender crap. Here comes the third instalment, Underworld: Rise of the Lycans, and a prequel at that! I was so excited to see how it would turn out, or rather how it began. In anticipation of the new film I re-watched the first two to have them fresh in my mind.
As the film promises, we delve into the early days of the vampires and the creation of the Lycans. Prequels are a tricky turn for films, as the draw audiences who enjoyed the world and stories that came before but are aware that you are familiar with the previous works. So, you certainly want the film to give you more than you already know, yes? This is one of the few times I felt that sticking to the guns of the story created by the previous films didn't help. If you've seen the first films you know the basic premise and arch of the prequel. It's interesting to see it play out, but unfortunately it doesn't give you too much more than that to fill in the gaps. Also, there was at least one continuity issue with the other films I was very surprized at.
The film still has a lot going for it and certainly is a rockin' introduction into the Underworld universe. The art direction was strong creating a beautiful yet steely world of magnitude and restraint. A generous use of blue, metal, chains, stone and dark leather set a wonderful tone. The costumes were great and the Lycans looked awesome. One thing I would have liked to see more of is the vampires being vampire like. Yes, we have the Lycan but vampires are still really interesting. Where were the fangs? Lightning reflexes? Witty comebacks? Lust for power? I acknowledge this was in the earlier days of their creation but they acted more like bureaucrats than creatures of the night.
The shining moment by the moonlight is definitely Michael Sheen's performance as Lucian, a Lycan with a purpose. Courage and strength are all adeptly depicted with intensity. Bill Nighy was also fun in his reprisal of the role of Viktor, the powerful elder of the vampires.
Shannon's Overall View:
I enjoyed it, but not as much as I had hoped
I'd buy it
I'd recommend it as beautiful action flick or as an introduction to the Underworld universe
13 minutes of preshow including 3 commercial and 5 previews: I Love You, Man, Street Fighter: The Legend of Chun-Li, Watchmen, 2012 and Fired Up
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© Shannon Ridler, 2009