Underworld: The Rise of the Lycans (2009)

underworld_rise_of_the_lycaI guess there was nowhere else to go with the series after the first two films pretty much accomplished all that it could. “Underworld” has been a very mediocre film franchise but with a surprisingly interesting mythos involving lycans and vampires and to prevent us from watching a repeat story similar to the first two, we instead get a prequel, the story of the feud between the lycans and the vampires that we only got a taste of in the first “Underworld.” While “Rise of the Lycans” does have its problems, the special effects can sometimes become some great eye candy that makes up for the poor story.

The lycan transformations are truly nothing short of fantastic as Tatopoulos and co. implement the use of prosthetics and animatronics along with CGI that becomes an eye catching hybrid from the beginning. Some action sequences work well with this hybrid as we get to see lycans running alongside trees, transformations that are just worth mentionining, and landscapes that come to life thanks to the computer effects. Rhona Mitra is a great replacement for Beckinsale as she picks up the slack for the movie and relies on her skills to bring us a sympathetic heroine the likes of which we saw in the first two films of the series. There is no Kate Beckinsales in tight leather, we at least get the lovely Rhona Mitra in tight clothing and fashion chic armor.

It’s a replacement ain’t so bad when you put in perspective. “Rise of the Lycans” makes a lot of promises to audiences that it would be a better more thorough look at the broad and paper thin mythos we learned of in the first two and in many ways it assures us that the thin plot line is in reality a thing plot line that didn’t warrant another movie. What we see in ninety minutes was not as good as what we learned about in a mere five minute explanation and director Patrick Tatopoulos along with Screen Gems want to keep the movie moving along so we’re given bland love sequences, lame action sequences, and a mythology that can sometimes be very confusing.

Did we really need to be explained all of this yet again? Why did we have to stretch out a small story in to something repetitive and redundant? And is it me or does the mythology seem unnecessarily complicated? “Rise of the Lycans” never really knows what kind of movie it wants to be so it reuses much of what we saw in the first two movies. We get vampires and lycans hating one another, the dramatic power of Bill Nighy, and the Romeo and Juliet storyline yet again. All I could do most of the time is watch hoping to get more than repetition; every single element is reiterated to distract us from the lack of excitement and the quite dull characters we watch on screen.

I never cared for anyone from the antagonists, to the feuding, to the taboo romance story between lycan Lucian and the vampire Sonja; “Rise of the Lycans” really didn’t need to happen since we pretty much got the point in the first and second movies. If that isn’t enough the director goes through great lengths in the climax to assure us that all of it is connected after all. Thanks for pounding it in to our skulls one last time. Dull, uninspired, and flat, “Rise of the Lycans” is a prequel that makes no effort to be inventive or original and instead cribs from other stories to conceive a period piece that drips mediocrity from the minute it begins. Here’s hoping we’ve seen the last of the “Underworld” series.