Underworld: The Rise of the Lycans Directed by: Patrick Tatopoulos Cast: Michael Sheen, Bill Nighy, Rhona Mitra Running Time: 1 hr 40 min Rating: R
Plot: The third installment to the Underworld franchise explains the bloody history behind the war between the lycans and the vampires.
Who’s It For? Really, really forgiving fans of the Underworld series.
Expectations: I was rooting for this movie. I love fantasy/horror movies where a tough chick gets to wield a sword. Obviously, it’s ideal if there is a modicum of actual quality.
Michael Sheen as Lucian: Oh my GOD! Michael Sheen was David Frost in Frost/Nixon! Can you all hear me? This is incredible news, people! Michael Sheen went from quiet subtlety in a probing look at the story behind Frost’s interview of former President Nixon ... to prancing around without his shirt and kicking vampire ass and he looks like a grimy, long-haired deity! Does it matter that the movie itself oscillated between embarrassing and just okay? NO! Because Michael Sheen is my newest heartthrob female wet dream! Intellectual there and then shirtless and tortured here? I want to wear his skin like a sexy flesh suit! Score: 8
Bill Nighy as Viktor: At the very beginning of Underworld: Rise of the Lycans, I had this thought: Wow, Bill Nighy is enjoyable no matter what he does. He’s just fun. By the time the film had limped to an end, my thought had changed to: Wow, not even Bill Nighy could turn that dead horse around—and he was an over-acting ham in the process of his efforts. Score: 3
Rhona Mitra as Sonja: I loved Mitra in Doomsday, but something went wrong. She seems to be emulating the Keira Knightley method of acting, which is to purse her lips strangely and strike a delicate pose. The main problem being that Mitra’s mouth is already distractingly voluminous and when she forcefully puckers at her audience, it looks like she’s donned waxen joke lips. I think I need to let go of the idea that Mitra used to be a Lara Croft model, because it seems to be creating unreasonably high expectations. Score: 3
Talking: The dialogue was mostly painful. It was a jarring combination of faux-Medieval and overwrought Hollywood cheese. Yikes. Score: 1
Sights: If you can get past the really low-quality CGI, the visuals aren’t that bad. At times, the special effects look a teeny bit like claymation—the werewolves have several poor moments—but the colors are the same striking washed out grays and blues of the other Underworld films and the fight scenes are enjoyable. Score: 5
Sounds: There is nothing particularly striking about the way this movie sounds. As expected, there's lots of growling, screaming, and just the general mish-mash of white noise, but the actual score is impossibly bland. The most noteworthy sounds are the werewolves snarling and eating people's heads--to such a degree that it's the only actual sound you even remember once the whole thing is done. Score: 3
Best Scene: The best scene involves uninhibited, free-wheeling immortal-style lovin’. Wheee! Sex on the edge of a bottomless precipice and Michael Sheen is nekkid again! Did you guys know Michael Sheen was Frost in Frost/Nixon? Holy cow, my cup runneth over!
Ending: The ending is satisfying, because up until that point all the vampires have been such preening self-entitled petulant dicks. You’re so irritated by the end that you’re ready to watch the Lycans tear out a throat or two.
Questions: How did Lucian and Sonja ever initially connect to even have a forbidden romance? The movie doesn’t even seem to know the answer to that question, so we have to be happy with “just because.”
Rewatchability: If it’s free and you’re bored and the batteries in your remote control just conked out, sure. Actually, if one wanted to tackle the Underworld series thus far, it wouldn’t be a bad thing, but the third would absolutely look the worse for wear when compared to the first two.
Do you want to know what bugged me the most about Underworld: Rise of the Lycans…that’s rhetorical, people. What really, really, really bothered me wasn’t the silly exchanges, the bad melodrama, or the bargain basement CGI—it was the fact that all the Lycan slaves had perfect pearly whites. They live a life of poverty and servitude and their teeth are nicer than mine—I go to the dentist. Clearly, this shouldn’t be the case.
There they would be, toiling away in filth and chains, looking like heavenly orthodontic models when they were supposed to be sneering or moaning. Obviously, I’d be less than thrilled to watch two characters with horrible, rotting teeth passionately making out, but they could’ve toned down the pure diamond brilliance of those gorgeous chompers. Hollywood can’t stand to get its hands too dirty and so it always ends up looking silly—like the rich kids slumming it in trials and tribulations.
…And that’s all the wisdom I have to spare for Underworld: Rise of the Lycans.
Final Score: 3/10