Underworld: Rise of the Lycans
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A prequel to Underworld and Underworld: Evolution, Underworld: Rise of the Lycans reveals the origin of the ancient, preternatural blood feud between vampires and werewolves.
Instead of being killed at birth, Lucian, the first Lycan, is spared and favored by Viktor, the evil vampire lord of the Underworld. Lucian and those like him are werewolves bred to be able to switch back and forth between beast and human forms. Thus, Viktor sees an opportunity to expand their kind into a race of slaves, bound to the vampires by locked collars that prevent them from morphing into werewolves.
Desperate to be free, and in love with Viktor's daughter, Sonja, Lucian stages an uprising—that is squashed. He escapes with only a few Lycan compatriots, and Sonja remains trapped in the Underworld. Worse, their secret, forbidden love has been compromised.
Betrayed by both his daughter and his "pet" Lycan, Viktor vengefully dangles Sonja as bait, knowing Lucian will return to the gloomy vampire headquarters and be destroyed.
Fur flies. Spears impale. Swords slice. And blood adds virtually the only color to this shadowy world.
Lucian and Sonja's love symbolically supersedes prejudice. And Lucian proves to be a courageous leader for his werewolf brothers trapped in slavery. His battle cry, "We are not animals!" offers the downtrodden race dignity in the midst of suffering and injustice. He rallies them to demand a better destiny than forced laborers and tells them they have a choice: remain barbaric slaves or be true and dignified Lycans. He also defends his kind fiercely, coming to the aid of those who are beaten or imprisoned. He and Sonja both risk their lives for the sake of others. Slaves try to ease one other's misery by giving water or encouragement.
Vampires. Werewolves. 'Nuff said.
Lucian and Sonja meet secretly to have sex. They kiss, embrace and are shown in sexual positions that are explicit and defy gravity. In one carnal "pose," his back hovers over the edge of a cliff. They're nude; the camera reveals his torso and legs along with her back and legs. When she disrobes, we see most of her body from the back. Later he caresses her bare shoulder and waist; her arm covers her breasts.
I'm tempted to once again only write vampires, werewolves, 'nuff said. But in this context, a bit more is required: Werewolves feed on humans, graphically eating their faces in several scenes. They chase and maul people and vampires alike. Fist and sword fights abound, releasing copious amounts of blood as faces and bodies are bludgeoned, stabbed, slashed, gashed, etc. Severed body parts soar as wolves are halved. Human bodies are burned.
Vampires with artillery-caliber crossbows shoot frighteningly huge shafts that run through humans and Lycans. One pins a Lycan's head to a wall. At close range a crossbow is aimed at a naked infant boy. A pregnant vampire is burnt to a crisp by the sun, her unborn baby proclaimed unnatural. Other vampires also grossly disintegrate when hit by the hot rays.
Lucian is brutally lashed on two occasions, his back turned to a bloody pattern of gaping wounds as his flesh is torn (onscreen) by the metal-studded whip. Blood flows when Viktor bites into his daughter's neck (to read her thoughts). He hits Sonja's face and kicks her. And later they fight with swords. Viktor and his henchmen rig up huge explosions in an attempt to kill Sonja and Lucian.
Numerous throats are graphically slashed, some resulting in gruesome (close-up) blood spray and squelching sound effects. Lucian's knee, back and wrist are run through with arrows, the heads of which are graphically extracted from his wounds. The camera refuses to blink as a sword stabs through Viktor's mouth and emerges from the back of his head.
Crude or Profane Language
Drug and Alcohol Content
None. But Viktor drinks blood from a goblet.
Other Negative Elements
The humans that aren't killed for food are forced to pay heavy tolls for the vampires' "protection." A vampire blackmails Lucian and Sonja after he learns of their affair. Lucian kills his own kind—and talks of it being no big deal—while a slave to Viktor. Sonja lies and laughingly ignores her father's orders.
For actor Michael Sheen, playing Lucian again is quite a leap from his refined, gentlemanly roles as Tony Blair in The Queen and David Frost in Frost/Nixon. But even in this obnoxiously blurry and monochromatically dim thriller, he still exudes a kind of nobility. He attempts to portray the dignity of a "people" group. And he defends justice by fighting an evil tyrant.
Never mind all that, though. His efforts at decency are overshadowed—no, obliterated—by gore and horror. And since the rest of the story has already been told, we know there'll never be anything new, or worthwhile, under the moon for these vampires and werewolves.
Honestly, the whole thing is pretty absurd. And I'm not the only one who thinks so. Sheen's co-star, Bill Nighy, told about.com that he's happy to be back on the set for another vamp romp, but he also quips, "There's a lot of hissing in this movie as well. Michael Sheen and I, we have whole scenes without dialogue where we simply try and out hiss one another. ... As soon as they shout, 'Cut,' you just fall apart laughing because it is so stupid, you know? Two grown men doing take after take of violent hissing and spitting, which is very, very funny."
I'm not laughing.
Other Belief Systems
Readability Age Range
Michael Sheen as Lucian; Billy Nighy as Viktor; Rhona Mitra as Sonja; Kevin Grevioux as Raze; Steven Mackintosh as Tannis
Patrick Tatopoulos ( )