Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Underworld: Rise of the Lycans (2009)

Underworld: Rise of the Lycans came as a surprise and in some ways a disappointment to me because instead of seeing what happens next to the main character Selene (Kate Beckinsale) the story went into rewind.

As the title implies the story was set pre-Selene era when the war between the Vampires and Lycans began. Strange though that Kate had some voice over narration parts at the beginning and at the end but whether it was new or just an audio file in stock I do not know.

I watched Underworld: Evolution, again, the day after watching this third installment just to rid the uneasiness forming in my mind regarding the story line. The top three immortals were dead by then; including the leadership of the Vampire clan, but in the narration Selene never hinted the end. There was no conclusion was given to the widely held belief that killing Marcus, William or Alexander could end it all.

What was mentioned or just hinted were uncharted waters regarding the new stronger breeds: the Vampire and Lycan hybrid Michael Corvin and Selene, now a day walker. So why didn’t the story line go there?

The survival of Underworld: Rise of the Lycans in the theaters will depend on fans and lovers of the mythos. I for one enjoyed it, that is if avoid my line of thought away from my own vision of the story line. I was hoping to go forward if for any reason at all movies should come in trilogies before making an entirely new set.

Effects wise there is something basic in the transformation of the Lycans. It didn’t feel as high tech as I would imagine with the present state of special effects but it was cool; just brute animal power. I just loved the Vampires and the Lycans going at it. The fight scenes were what made my night actually.

I understand and appreciate the use of what would seem blue lights and camera filter in the cinematography but it was boring now that it is the third movie. Do not use the blue and all you have is a much boring black but they could have compensated with the characters. In Vampire Chronicles, Louis described of his immortality as in part missing the color blue, which at night would look black. So it’s a wonder to me that a race of immortals avoided the use of brighter colors in clothing or interior decor. They must be so bored.

Michael Sheen was great as Lucian. And what made me appreciate him even more was the trailer of Frost/Nixon which appeared shortly before Rise of the Lycans. I’ve seen him as Prime Minister Tony Blair in The Queen. My friend even found it difficult to believe that the actor playing Robert Frost and Lucian are the same. I always admire actors who easily fade into character; different characters at that.

Fans of the story will like Lucian now as has more of a warrior quality than in Underworld. His morphing into a werewolf and subsequent interaction with fellow Lycans really makes him a fully developed character. Michael may not have star power but he is the leader of the Lycans, the script was good enough to highlight that. And he mixes well with Rhona Mitra who plays Sonja, the ill fated daughter of Viktor (Bill Nighy).

I like Bill. He makes these weird facial and head movements that seem unnatural as he emphasizes words. It seems at times that he is overdoing it but the effect is natural even regal. Physically Bill is more perfect which is to say, with all due respect, he’s that close to looking dead.

With regards to the story there is nothing really new or exciting to figure out. They will see Viktor as a father and Lucian as a slave which was of course all revealed in part one. As I have said what will make or break this film is the love of the fans. If fans would like to see it played before them in the theaters how the war began then they would enjoy it.

Furthermore, Rise of the Lycans barely got away with the failure in luring in the main casts; at least I am assuming it was a failure. Kraven, the traitor of part one is absent. The two other leaders of the vampires Amelia and Marcus Corvinus were implied but only referred to as elders resting within two large sarcophagus. Needless to say Alexander and William Corvinus were not there though William was often mentioned.

If their absence was intentional then that can only mean the desire for the filmmakers to have wiggle room for at least a couple more which is annoying if you think about it. How Rise of the Lycans ended certainly points to a big gaping hole that can be exploited before you can truly say it circles back to part one.

Overall I liked the film, surprisingly. I loved the actors, they felt real. I loved the story as simple as it is, even with a hole, I was engrossed in it. And of course the war. Had movie houses been cheaper I’d like the film even more because at the back of my head there is a tingling that this direction was an unnecessary one.

But being a fan I look forward to the next if only to see Vampires and Lycans locked in combat. Hopefully they move on from where they left off in Evolution.

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