Underworld: Rise of the Lycans (Blu-ray)
Sonja is a vampire born into privilege and Lucian is a special breed of lycan used to spawn a small army of slaves for Sonja’s father, Viktor. Viktor’s plans for Lucian and his kind are shattered when he learns of a secret love affair between them which finds both Lucian and Sonja at his mercy. But this betrayal is only the beginning of a war that will not only echo through generations to come, but also bring the vampire nation to its knees as the slaves unite and rise up against their masters.
RISE OF THE LYCANS reveals Lucian’s side of the brooding war between vampire and werewolf. Origin stories can be both good and bad. The good? Well, we get another Underworld flick jam packed with bloody goodness and a chance to revisit the feuding world of these beloved characters, both old and new. The bad? We all know how it’s going play out. Sonja’s going to die and Lucian’s going to get really pissed and kick some fanged ass. Bill Nighy shines as Viktor, his commanding presence just overwhelms you when he’s on screen. I won’t take anything away from Michael Sheen’s outstanding portrayal of Lucian, (and you can tell he loves stepping back into those shoes) who’s hand is finally forced. Rhona Mitra lit up the stage as Viktor’s rebellious daughter Sonja, showing us yet again, she’s a woman of action and definitely a rising star to keep an eye on (she rocked in DOOMSDAY, and though I haven’t seen her do much else of late, here’s hoping we see her again soon).
I enjoyed this installment more than I thought I would, but the first two still rank higher. That said, there’s nothing wrong with this one, my only valid complaint here is the lack of foresight these films possess when looking back (gamble on the unknown). The writers/directors have made it known that a trilogy was always what they’d intended. Yet, the first Underworld so nonchalantly discards Lucian’s character at the end of the movie, not to mention Raze and Viktor. Which is fine, I guess, if there were to be no sequels. But there were sequels. And now this movie builds up these three characters in particular, but to what end? They die in the first one. My point? This happens a lot in sequels. The writers realize what great characters they had to begin with, so they “go back” and do prequels so that they can make use of them again. The first X-men movie comes to mind here. They toss in good ol Sabertooth for the fans, but essentially discard him like a clubfoot lackey at the end of the movie. Oops, now here comes X-men Origins, and who’s the main villain? What a surprise, it’s Sabertooth. I felt this way about Lucien and Raze, because now I want to see more of them and can’t, so I’m a bit disgusted by how carelessly they were treated in UNDERWORLD.
The Underworld movies are great fun, for me especially. Throw in hot chicks in tight leather, swords, guns with ultraviolet bullets and all out bloody warfare and you have my vote any day of the week and twice on Sundays. The world behind the movie looks phenomenal and the cast all took their roles seriously. It’s noticeable and makes you appreciate the experience even more. We still have yet to see the battle where Kraven supposedly kills Lucian so I guess there’s room for one more Delorean ride. Will it happen, who knows but I’d be game so here’s hoping.
Video: 2.40:1 Widescreen in 1080p HD with AVC codec. I sincerely dug the trip back in time to medieval days of old, a good move for the series which really looked the part.
Audio: 5.1 PCM (Uncompressed) in English, French, Portuguese, Spanish and with the same subtitle options. Not as great a score as the two before it but not bad either.
Commentary (1:32:28): Director Patrick Tatopoulos takes on the franchise with fire and brimstone believing that telling the origin story of the lycans as well as Lucian was the only way for the series to forward. He did well in this regard and I personally hope it’s not the last blast from the past.
Behind the Castle Walls-Picture-in Picture (1:32:28): This feature plays out much like a commentary with the film as it progresses only here we get a second box for the visuals to match the sound. Personally I’ve never liked these, way too distracting.
Lycanthropes around the World Interactive Map: This cool features is an interactive map featuring documented sightings of werewolves around the world over the past five thousand years. Sweet.
Featurettes (42:31): By now these things are feeling pretty similar to one another, I mean how many times can we told about vampire and lycan makeup and effects when it’s all pretty much the same thing in a different movie. The bit on revamping the Dark Ages was cool beans though.
Music Video (3:51): The video for “Deathclub” a remix by William Control featuring Matt Skiba. Okay video, but the jump from hard music to techno is a little unnerving.
Previews: There are a decent amount of trailers this time around, some BD-LIVE content as well as a CINECHAT feature that lets you chat with friends on screen as you watch the movie. Again, sounds pretty distracting to me.