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

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Plot: An origins story centered on the centuries-old feud between the race of aristocratic vampires and their onetime slaves, the Lycans.http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0834001/

Rise of the Lycans is perhaps to Underworld what Tokyo Drift is to the Fast and The Furious (although not that bad). It took a risk by removing their main audience draws – Seline and Michael. Rise of the Lycans is set in long long ago where we finally get to see why Lucian embarked on his vengeful path against Viktor (Bill Nighy).

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Casting Rhona Mitra as Sonja was obviously a designed and successful choice. It is mentioned in the first film that Viktor was unable to kill Seline because she reminded him so much of his daughter, and comparing the two, both on personality and on looks I agree with Viktor – they really do share similarities.

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Michael Sheen has never struck me as a man with any appeal, and yet as Lucian I was not immune to his charms. He lost that leery look that I associate with Sheen for his work (mostly as the icky Aro in Twilight) as Lucian, for which I thanked him.

The film has its’ own version of some political commentary with the harrowing conditions the lycans are enslaved by. It is cruel and inhumane, and if there was any misconception that Viktor was a “good” vampire left, this film serves as final proof that he likely had it coming to him.

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Although not part of the main story I enjoyed Rise of the Lycans. It is probably my third favorite overall. The film at least maintains its gritty and sexy feel, something the following films never quite managed to achieve as of yet.

Rating: 7/10

 

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Movie Review: Underworld Evolution (2006)

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Plot:Picking up directly from the previous film, vampire warrior Selene and the half werewolf Michael hunt for clues to reveal the history of their races and the war between them.

When films like Evolution gets hated on online I am always quite surprised. This said trashed film and it isn’t nearly as horrible as it is made out to be. The entire Underworld franchise is garbage rated on both IMDb and Rotten Tomatoes, but here’s the kicker: it’s actually not that cheesy, it is quite dark and violent and the history between the lycans and vampires are well thought out. Is there some sort of secret society in the entertainment industry that decides to trash things for reasons unknown? Oh wait, that’s the Academy right?

Continuing immediately after the events in Underworld, Seline and Michael narrowly escape after her killing the vampire elder Viktor (Bill Nighy). Seline hopes by awakening Viktor’s brother and last remaining vampire elder Marcus (Tony Curran), she will be able to save her life and Michael’s life. But even though Marcus and Viktor have a long line of dispute between them, Marcus is furious to find his brother dead and sets out on his path of retribution. He is terrifying as some sort of hybrid, and they have a dangerous road to survival set out to them. A whole lot of other things also occur and in it is more insight into the lycan and vampire history.

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Evolution remains dark, sexy and violent. It is not so much different from the first film. We are still following the gorgeous Seline and the gorgeous Michael, and we are treated to some sexy time between them. It was a little risqué, much more than the usual amount generally applied in mainstream films, but it continues to suit the tone of the series and stops just short of being icky.

More history is given about both species and I enjoyed that. I’m not sure whether there was a real point to bring in a father figure of Markus and Viktor and explaining all that sordid history, but at least it ultimately makes Seline able to walk in the sun.

At the end of the film all I wanted is Michael and Seline to be together and safe. That wish is mostly granted. It still ends with some depressing voice overs, but for the most part we are left with our favorite couple in a relatively safe future.

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Underworld Evolution is enjoyable, gritty, oddly romantic and with a lot of sexy Undertones. I’d give my left pinky toe to be built like Seline, and I wouldn’t mind dating Michael either, hybrid or not.

Rating: 7/10

Movie Review: Underworld (2003)

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Plot: Selene, a vampire warrior, is entrenched in a conflict between vampires and werewolves, while falling in love with Michael, a human who is sought by werewolves for unknown reasons.

Rating: 7.5/10

A peek at the IMDb scores for Underworld left me certain that I was in for cheese and melodrama and bad performances. Contrary to IMDb, I received intel from trusted persons that Underworld is hated unnecessarily by the “gurus” for whichever murky reason Hollywood powers decide a film should get poor ratings. Kate Beckingsale is front and foremost and brings forth a fantastic strong female character that is in no need of being saved. She does the saving. Seline is strong, powerful, really attractive, brooding and won’t shy away from confrontation. Miraculous qualities for a female protagonist!

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Kate Beckingsale is incredibly beautiful. I’d love to hate her on principle, but the fact is this is a really intelligent women takes on such a fierce role with energy is to be admired. Seline is a mix of power and female, and I was cheering all the way. The relationship between Michael and Selinehas impact because it doesn’t overshadow the political or war elements of the film, yet manages to demand attention when the two get a few moments of peace together.

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The lycans were terrifying. Underworld isn’t this pretty watered down Twilight-version of vampires and werewolves. The lycans live in dark shadows and haunt the decaying sewers of the city. Their leader, Lucian, has a plan and initially you are led to believe that he’s solely a villain, and as the leader of the Lycans he must be stopped at all cost. One sentence from Seline should immediately alert the watcher that things are not as they appear, because whenever a species is banned from looking into the past, there is bound to be things hidden people in power want swept under the rug.

Bring in Bill Nighy’s Viktor, whose awakening is fearful to behold. He plays the role of the Elder vampire with such pizazz it is obvious that he had the time of his life being a vampire.  Shane Brolly as Kraven is the weakest link in the story, his angle of action was really the cheesiest direction of which the other cast members steered well cleared of.

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The directing by Wiseman is excellent. The film remains gritty and gory throughout, and the atmosphere is accurately depressing. Underworld is a long one, but I didn’t mind as much as I really enjoyed it. The last few scenes, which obviously serves as the conclusion of the film is gory and blood filled, but to its’ credit I didn’t need to repress the urge to skip some of it.

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I had a surprisingly good time watching Underworld, and I’m definitely checking out the rest. They might not all be as good, but I will most certainly explore and provide feedback.

Have you seen Underworld? What is your impression?