Movie Review: Underworld: Rise of the Lycans (2009)

There are several kisses of death a movie franchise may experience, including, but not limited to:

  1. The original writing/directing team deciding to move on to other projects
  2. The main actor or actress in the franchise deciding to not be involved in the latest project
  3. The decision to make a prequel
  4. Casting Paris Hilton to star in the film

In the case of Underworld: Rise of the Lycans nearly all four of these conditions were met. The creative trio responsible for writing and directing the first two installments, Kevin Grevioux, Danny McBride and Len Wiseman aren’t as nearly as involved as they were before (McBride helped pen this screenplay with others; Wiseman and Grevioux got producer credits). Also gone is the sexy leather-clad vampire played by Kate Beckinsale, who, upon realizing there was nothing left but dark days for this vampire/werewolf tale, probably turned tail and ran at the mere thought of another installment.

The only thing left for the studio to do was to prepare a prequel and hope for the best. And that’s exactly what Lakeshore Entertainment and Screen Gems decided to do — after all, everybody cares about how the bloody feud between vampires and lycans started.

And I’ll admit, I kinda cared. But man, what an uninspiring film Underworld: Rise of the Lycans turned out to be. If you wanted to see some tear ’em up action (like I did), you’re not going to find much of it here. What you will get is a painfully methodical and slow in developing back story for the first two films consisting mostly of especially droning banter between the immortals. Who knew powerful vampire clans have the same problems we puny humans have? Who wanted to know that? Not me.

But seeing as that was the path they chose to take, you’d think the characters would have some depth to them and some common ground with which to connect them to the audience. For the life of me, I couldn’t find either. Was I supposed to care for Sonja (Rhona Mitra), the rebellious daughter of vampire matriarch Viktor (Bill Nighy)? She just wanted to be left alone to let blossom her forbidden love for pureblood werewolf Lucian (Michael Sheen). Should I have identified with Viktor as he struggled to maintain the standing of his weakening coven and made the ultimate sacrifice? How about Lucian — maybe I was supposed to embrace his desire for freedom and his yearning for acceptance.

If only there was more action, I wouldn’t have had to ask those questions. As it stands, there is probably ten minutes worth of any action to get excited and write home about. Watching a pack of lycans tear through flesh and bone is still a sight to see. So is watching them morph from one form to another. It’s these ten minutes or so, that save Underworld: Rise of the Lycans from my worst possible rating. My thinking Rhona Mitra is an attractive girl probably helped too (as would have seeing Paris Hilton get torn to shreds by pissed off villagers, which sadly is absent from the film).

Critical Movie Critic Rating:
2 Star Rating: Bad


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The Critical Movie Critics

I'm an old, miserable fart set in his ways. Some of the things that bring a smile to my face are (in no particular order): Teenage back acne, the rain on my face, long walks on the beach and redneck women named Francis. Oh yeah, I like to watch and criticize movies.

'Movie Review: Underworld: Rise of the Lycans (2009)' have 5 comments

  1. The Critical Movie Critics

    January 29, 2009 @ 9:07 am james

    I am waiting for this movie to come out, this review surely makes me want to watch this movie more

  2. The Critical Movie Critics

    January 30, 2009 @ 5:01 am Sir Phineous

    don’t forget that most of the movie is set at night and either in a forest or in a dimly lit dungeon so you can’t see a damn thing.

  3. The Critical Movie Critics

    February 6, 2009 @ 11:12 am AliMustafa

    the first two part is pretty good, how they can make underworld three even better

  4. The Critical Movie Critics

    April 13, 2009 @ 7:33 pm Mark

    A prequel and no Kate ? No thanks ! The opening of your review alone was enough to tell me I should probably skip this one.

  5. The Critical Movie Critics

    October 17, 2011 @ 5:55 pm christopher

    I am a big fan of these movies! From the first time watching the original till now, I’m glad that the Underworld trilogy continues! I’ve always been fascinated by Vampire movies ever since I was a little kid so needless to say, Underworld was made for viewers just like myself. The first movie was enough to not only spark my interest and watch all three movies, but keep me in anticipation for a fourth almost a decade later.

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