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UNDERWORLD: RISE OF THE LYCANS
Movie Review

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UNDERWORLD: RISE OF THE LYCANS
Movie Review
Directed by Patrick Tatopoulos
Starring: Michael Sheen, Bill Nighy, Rhona Mitra
Review by Matthew Toffolo



SYNOPSIS:

An origins story centered on the centuries-old feud between the race of aristocratic vampires and their onetime slaves, the Lycans.

REVIEW:

Making a prequel of an already successful franchise is an interesting thing to do. For the director, it's kind of like directing a TV show because the overall style and the theme has already been established. So their job is to just tell the story as good a possible and not screw up.

And that's the studios job too: Just to not screw up the success of the series and tarnish its image.

They made the film in the first place to make money, but it's also a risk because if this film doesn't do well, then the other Underworld film's DVD sales etc... don't do as well in the future because there is a failure attached to the series. It's kind of like placing a bad apple into a bundle of ripe apples. The bad apple's negativity will eventually ruin the other apples too.

So the job for the creative team of Underword: Rise of the Lycans is to make another ripe apple so other ripe apples of the Underworld series can be made in the future.

It made me think of the other PREQUELS made in recent years. The most famous or infamous is the Star Wars prequels, which paled in comparison to the originals and practically ruined Generation X's childhood feelings of the original movies. At least that's what they did for me. Watching Empire of the Strikes back will never be the same for me again because all I'll remember now is Jar-Jar Binks and the other three crappy movies.

Then there is The Godfather II, which is one-half of a prequel as we witness how Don Corlene became Don Corlene.

Red Dragon is the prequel to The Silence of the Lambs, or some will say just a remake of its original Manhunter.

Most people don't know but Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom was actually a prequel to the original Raiders of the Lost Ark. But there really wasn't a point to it except that Indiana was wise enough to get rid of the blond (who married the director) and get a better parent to raise the Chinese kid.

Batman Begins could be considered a prequel, or just a reinvention of a franchise.

Same with Casino Royale.

So prequels aren't exactly a wise choice most of the time.

But this is a film that's not that bad. It's full of action and it has that ultimate love storyline that's really another version of Romeo and Juliet. The girl falls for that man from the other side (literally), and has a direct conflict with her father. This conflict sets off other conflicts and a full fledged us against them war occurs. In between is the girl (who has the most interesting face and they kept showing it in over 30 closeup shots of her in the film) who must decide if love concurs all no matter what the consequences will be.

And there are a whole lot of consequences, which sets up the original Underworld films.

The thing that bothered me with Underworld: Rise of the Lycans was the complete lack of logic with our main character in certain spots. He's set up as an intelligent warrior and does extremely smart things in many moments in the film. Then to set up the 3rd act, he makes a dumb decision that completely contradicts everything he did in the film. It just made no sense at all.

It was like the writers put themselves into a corner when writing the plot, and got themselves out of it by having our hero do a stupid thing that he otherwise wouldn't do. So his choice is not realistic and therefore it takes you out of the film. And there were plenty other options the writers could of done. This is a fantasy world for peat sakes! They have a lot of imagination to work with. So there should of never been a plot problem like they had.

Michael Sheen plays Lucian, the Lycan who pushes his kind out of slavery by the Vampires and falls in love with the daughter of his 'master'. A role that was a far cry from his past performances playing David Frost in Frost/Nixon, and Prime Minister Tony Blair in The Queen. He's a fierce musclebound warrior in this film and I was really shocked by his performance. I never saw him as an action star but he pulled off the role really well. A really solid actor.

I'm going to be really curious how this film does at the box office. They stuck it in January, a month where action films like this are as rare as a drama piece in the summer. And Michael Sheen is competing with himself in his just Oscar nominated for best picture film Frost/Nixon.

I don't think the studios really believe in this film. They are solely banking on its name and past film glory as there are no box office names in the movie.

At just over 90 minutes in length, Underworld: Rise of the Lycans is a film that's a good watch if you have a little time on your hands and the theater is nearby. Otherwise, you can wait as it's one of those perfect Saturday afternoon films to watch when you're feeling lazy and just want to see 'one of those films'. And this is one of those films.

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