Underworld: Rise Of The Lycans

Underworld: Rise Of The Lycans

***

Reviewed by: Leanne McGrath

This action-packed prequel to vampire romps Underworld and Underworld: Evolution has a surprising amount of bite – provided you don't take it too seriously.

It traces the origins of the centuries-old blood feud between vampires and werewolves, already raging in the original movies, amid stomach-churning slayings, steamy sex and stunning scenery.

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In the dark ages, Alexander Corvinus had two sons - one a vampire, the other a werewolf. From the latter has descended a mindless race of hellhounds intent on mass slaughter. The beasts are hunted by the vampires' assassins, the death dealers, in order to prevent their lands being ravaged.

A new dawn is marked by the birth of Lucian, a lycan, human until the full moon. Enslaved by the vampire coven - led by Viktor (Bill Nighy) – they breed an entire race of lycans using his blood to act as their servants, keeping them tame using collars to stop them transforming.

Lucien (Michael Sheen) is devoted to his fanged oppressors, largely due to his secret affair with Viktor's head-strong daughter Sonya (Rhona Mitra). But in true Romeo and Juliet fashion, their love is forbidden. When Lucian is tortured and imprisoned for removing his collar to save his love from being killed by werewolves, he rallies his fellow lycans to rise up against Viktor and escape to freedom.

And so begins the blood-drenched war we will follow over two more action-packed films.

Set against majestic, Lord Of The Rings-style backdrops, Rise Of The Lycans offers far more visually than it does narratively.

The battle scenes are handled well by director Tatopoulos, flowing with plenty of tension and packing in plenty of gore for even the most blood-thirsty horror fans. The special effects are impressive, particularly the CGI wolves.

Sheen and Mitra approach their roles with gusto and bring much-needed solemnity to deflect Nighy's panto baddie-style scowling and swooping around. All he's missing is a twirling moustache and cane.

The doomed love story is far from an original idea but hey, what better excuse for an explicit and gratuitous sex scene on the edge of a cliff? It helps to have seen the first two flicks as there is only a brief recap of the back story, but it's not essential. Anyone seeking 90 minutes of fantastical escapism will find plenty to amuse them.

Reviewed on: 07 Feb 2009
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Prequel chases the origins of the feud between vampires and werewolves.
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Director: Patrick Tatopoulos

Writer: Screenplay by Danny McBride, Dirk Blackman and Howard McCain, based on a story by Len Wiseman, Robert Orr and Danny McBride

Starring: Michael Sheen, Bill Nighy, Rhona Mitra, Steven Mackintosh

Year: 2009

Runtime: 93 minutes

BBFC: 18 - Age Restricted

Country: US

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If you like this, try:

Twilight
Underworld
Underworld: Evolution