A film series is only as good as it’s sequels… or in this case, prequel. With studios putting out sequels, and prequels, every year, even if they don’t need them, that’s the only indicator that a series is still viable, even in the slightest. Sometimes it’s not even possible to judge if a series is past it’s prime, until it’s too late.
With the Screen Gems and Lakeshore Entertainment film “Underworld: Rise of the Lycans”, there’s a definite sign that its age may starting to show.
This action thriller stars Michael Sheen (“Masters of Sex”, “Admission”), Bill Nighy (“Pride”, “I, Frankenstein”), Rhona Mitra (“The Last Ship”, “Strike Back”), Kevin Grevioux (“I, Frankenstein”, “Young Justice”), Steven Mackintosh (” Set Fire to the Stars”, “From There to Here”), and narration by Kate Beckinsale (upcoming “Stonehearst Asylum”, “The Trials of Cate McCall”).
The film is directed by Patrick Tatopoulos, and written by Danny McBride (“Underworld: Evolution”, “Underworld”), Dirk Blackman (“Outlander”), and Howard McCain (“Outlander”).
The film originally opened on Jan. 23, 2009.
I’ve loved this series since it began, and was excited to see this addition, even if it was a prequel addition and lacking Beckinsale as the lead. But, even with these two negatives, there’s still a lot to redeem from this film, even if it is starting to slow a dying series.
Even without Beckinsale in the lead, I feel that Mitra managed to bring something just as equally appealing. Sure there was no skin tight leather outfit, or guns, or awesome action scenes (there really weren’t), she still brought a tough kick-ass character. She defied her father at every turn, all in an effort to be her own person and do her own thing. Wonderful! But that’s mostly where it ended. Sad to say, I didn’t really fall too much for the supposed love story between her and Sheen’s character. No matter, as the story managed to have enough to eclipse this minor issue.
This was a straight up monster movie, as the title suggests, and it’s better for it. The CGI effects actually looked much better, especially when the shots had them close up and getting into fights. That’s what also helped to make the action better too. Intense creatures getting deep into rough and brutal violence. Everything I’d expect from an “Underworld” film.
With any prequel film, there has to be a lot of additional details to fill in. Well, that’s exactly what they did here, and had there not really been an established mythology, or other films, this film could’ve stood out wonderfully. However, and I had this pop up a bit when watching, I felt much of the narrative was forced upon me. It’s expected, as the writers had to take an established, small amount of backstory, and turn it into a full length film. But, somehow, I just got too hung up on how forced everything was. The word “filler” definitely fits here. If you don’t focus on that too much, you can still enjoy this film a lot. It’s fun!
The mythology established in the original film didn’t stand. Sure the overall premise was, mostly, there, but not everything was correct. Maybe I care too much, or I notice these seemingly tiny details, but when you alter what’s been established, there’s a problem. The writers either didn’t care or forgot, or wanted a way to tell a bit more creative story. The major area was that Sheen’s character saw so much, but in the original film, only a specific portion was shown. How? Selective memories? Then, there’s the prime incident, which fueled the first film, the mythology, and this film. Mitra’s character, Sonja. She was executed by her father, Nighy, but not in the way I was expecting. In the original, which was clearly shown again and again, she had an excruciating death from the sunlight. Here, she didn’t. She just burned really fast. I expected better continuity.
Some film franchises need to end and not come back. Let filmgoers enjoy what the films have contributed. Wait, that’s too much work. Instead, as I’ve recently heard, there may be plans for a reboot, like with “The Amazing Spider-Man” films. I’d take another sequel. While this film may be a somewhat weaker film, mainly because it slowed the pace of the series itself down a lot, I can still enjoy it enough. I can also say, that it will become part of my film collection, just not right away. I’m sure there’s some other film I want to own and watch over and over instead.