Underworld: Rise of the Lycans Movie Review
Back in 2003, a little but flashy film known as Underworld debuted and benefited from a combination of horror-action, snazzy special effects and a leather-clad Kate Beckinsale. Two sequels later, Beckinsale has smartly left the series and effectively handed over the reins to Rhona Mitra, who also looks quite nice in tight black clothing.
Underworld: Rise of the Lycans had a few things going against it from the start. First, Mitra is no Beckinsale. Furthermore, the movie is set in the distant past and serves as a prequel to the events of the first two films, effectively taking away what made those flicks so entertaining, its battle of "monsters" in the modern world. Lastly, the trailers for the picture made it look like a B-grade, direct-to-DVD action movie.
Thankfully, low expectations allowed Underworld: Rise of the Lycans to exceed such expectations. Barely.
While Beckinsale is no longer around, the movie does mark the return of Bill Nighy and Martin Sheen to their respective roles as Viktor and Lucian respectively, the heads of the vampires and Lycans. Both are good actors and seem to have fun in their roles, if only for the fact that they're probably being paid much more to jump around and kill monsters than for their last five dramas combined. Strangely enough, Mitra, who was marketed in the previews as being the star of the show, is actually a supporting character who only comes and goes in the story. In other words, Underworld is now Sheen's game.
Underworld: Rise of the Lycans, though set in a different time period, deviates little from the other two movies. There isn't much of a plot and the movie relies heavily on its action. There's a forbidden romance between vampire and Lycan that is the catalyst for everything that happens. The actors chomp up their scenes as they must, and there's lots of macho hissing and growling at one another.
The action is, for the most part, pretty good, though remarkably unremarkable when all is said and done. Whereas I remember some mildly original moments from the first two films, there isn't anything that stands out here. Then again, the movie itself doesn't stand out, so it's par for the course.
The special effects are, however, a little weak. It's safe to assume that the budget for this third picture was substantially reduced.
For fans of the Underworld series, Underworld: Rise of the Lycans is a surprisingly okay entry that should satisfy when it comes to action and excitement. But the lack of Beckinsale and its disinterest in doing anything special makes it by far the weakest of the three.
Review by Erik Samdahl unless otherwise indicated.