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Overall Rating

Awesome: 8.33%
Worth A Look45.83%
Just Average: 8.33%
Pretty Crappy: 4.17%
Sucks: 33.33%

2 reviews, 12 user ratings

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Underworld: Rise of the Lycans
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by Peter Sobczynski

"Fur Whom The Belle Tolls"
1 stars

I begin this review of “Underworld: Rise of the Lycans,” the latest entry in the series of films chronicling an age-old feud between a Eurotrash clan of vampires and the clan of werewolves--sorry, “Lycans”--that they themselves originally bred as slaves until they rose up against their oppressors, with a basic fundamental question: Is there someone out there who actually likes these films? Obviously, plenty of people have paid good money to see them either in the theaters or on DVD--at least enough to keep them out of the direct-to-video ghetto and in the multiplexes--but have you ever known a single person who has ever admitted to actually liking them for reasons that don’t involve the sight of Kate Beckinsale in skintight leather outfits? Apparently Screen Gems is convinced that such people are out there because not only have they blessed us with a new “Underworld” film, they have given us a prequel that discards Beckinsale’s character altogether (all the better to keep the budget down) while providing an origin story chock-full of the kind of elaborately detailed and ponderously uninteresting backstory that practically no one was clamoring for.

Set long, long ago--based on the evidence provided here, it would appear to be the time after the invention of fetish outfits but before the development of hair conditioner--the film explains how the Lycans came to begin their centuries-long war against vampires. If I have my information correctly (and this may not be entirely accurate since this is one of those movies that not only assumes that you have memorized every detail of the previous installments in depth, it assumes that you have done no later than four minutes before watching this one), vampire leader Viktor (Bill Nighy) attempts to create a super-race of killer werewolves to use as slaves (can’t imagine that plan going downhill at any point) has coughed up one perfect creature in Lucian (Michael Sheen) that he coddles and treats like the rabid son that he never had, especially after Lucian helps slaughter a pack of wolves as they pursue a vampire patrolling the woods. (Does this make him an Uncle Tom Wolf?) What Viktor doesn’t realize is that Lucian is having a torrid and clandestine romance with Viktor’s rebellious daughter, Sonja (Rhona Mitra) in a page right out of “Romeo & Juliet” or at least “High School Musical 2.” Eventually, Lucian escapes from the vampire compound and rallies together all the werewolves from the surrounding areas in a plan to storm the vampire compound and rescue Sonja, who is in immortal danger now that her dad has discovered that she is into the whole interspecies thing, in a battle that inevitably ends with Lucian looking to the skies and muttering the inevitable “This is only the beginning.”

How any of this ties in with the huge chunks of backstory supplied by the previous films is something that I will leave you to uncover on your own--even though both titles are in my DVD collection, I can’t see myself reaching for them anytime soon to see how well the details mesh. What I can tell you is that while most of the key participants from the first two films are nowhere to be seen this time around, this installment is remarkably in sync with them. Like those films, the screenplay is an atrocious blend of impenetrable mythology, cheesy dialogue and paper-thin characters. (It literally took me until the final scenes to realize that Mitra was playing a new character and not simply replacing Beckinsale.) As a horror film, it is the pits--despite containing vampires and werewolves, there is not a single scary moment to be had--and as an action film, it is even worse thanks to an endless series of fight scenes that are so poorly designed (you have no idea what is going on at any given time thanks to the hyperkinetic editing) and executed (the cinematography is so dark that even if it was edited in the manner of a Bela Tarr film, you still wouldn’t know what was going on because you can barely see a damn thing) that even the least demanding audiences (presumably the target viewers) will find it almost impossible to sit through. As for the acting, while it is downright embarrassing to see such talented performers as Michael Sheen and Bill Nighy stumbling through such low-grade junk, you will hardly notice them because you will be far too distracted by the breathtaking awfulness that is Rhona Mitra’s performance. Look, Beckinsale didn’t exactly set the world on fire with her work in the first two films but Mitra is so off-the-charts bad that you almost have to see her to (dis)believe it. Let me put it this way--as attractive as she is, that is how terrible her performance is here.

“Underworld: Rise of the Lycans” is idiotic crap from start to finish--the kind of movie that seems to have been custom-made to play in half-empty multiplexes in January for audiences with nothing better to do with their lives. However, I suppose that I have to admit that while the “Underworld” saga entire is almost completely worthless, this particular installment is probably the best of the bunch for a number of reasons. For one thing, it contains one of the silliest sex scenes to appear in a film in recent memory (though fans of Rhona Mitra should know that she doesn’t expose anything more than you might see in your average perfume commercial). For another, the sight of the guy best known for playing Tony Blair and David Frost strutting around half-naked or sprouting fangs and fur is definitely worth a few chuckles. Finally, and most importantly of all, this one is about 30 minutes shorter than the first one and maybe 15 minutes shorter than the second--at least this one knows when to just give up and let the audience rise up in search of a better movie.

link directly to this review at https://www.hollywoodbitchslap.com/review.php?movie=17504&reviewer=389
originally posted: 01/23/09 18:10:36
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User Comments

3/31/12 CR a very good prequel with cool action, exciting back story, and some awesome effects. 4 stars
8/18/09 Night1836 Missed Kate but was a GREAT movie none the less! 5 stars
5/15/09 art the BEST of the UNDERWORLD series. 4 stars
3/22/09 matt pretty mediocre. weak plotting and character development. some action scenes where ok. 3 stars
2/15/09 rahul its better then other 4 stars
2/15/09 whentempersflare It could've been much better. 2 stars
2/13/09 epicure Bad acting, terrible direction, awful dialogue, cheapo special effects...utter cak 1 stars
1/30/09 ravenmad It was dark, there was biting, I liked it. Refreshed everything. 4 stars
1/29/09 Ken Weakest link in the Underworld franchise due to the absence of Kate Beckinsale. 3 stars
1/26/09 foobar awesome! 4 stars
1/26/09 jimmy this was a great movie! those that don't like it probably didn't see the first 2 5 stars
1/24/09 John leaper pissed my pants it was so bad 1 stars
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  23-Jan-2009 (R)
  DVD: 12-May-2009


  DVD: 12-May-2009

Directed by
  Patrick Tatopoulos

Written by
  Danny McBride

  Michael Sheen
  Bill Nighy
  Rhona Mitra

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