Underworld: The Rise of the Lycans Reviews
Illuminating and expanding on the series' widely convoluted mythology, this goth-horror threequel with it borderline-incoherent tangents invalidates everything in the previously established narrative.
Set somewhere (perhaps in Eastern Europe), steeped in dark ages atmosphere, the film focuses on further explaining the adequately declared back-story behind the war waging for generations between Death-dealers (vampires) and Lycans (werewolves).
Aristocratic ubervamp overlord Viktor (Played by the decidedly camp Bill Nighy) is confronted with the birth of a humanized werewolf child Lucian (Michael Sheen).
Viktor's first impulse is to destroy the child. However realizing the potential to utilize the child's blood and further breed a race of controllable slaves, Lucian is spared and kept as Viktor's favorite pet and dog's body.
Lucian and his reared in captivity enslaved brood are forced to obey, prevented to morph into their animalistic counterparts by "moonshakles" metal collars fitting of their station they carry out slave works on behalf of their vampire masters.
Forgiven his breed, Lucian is granted to lead a privileged life under the light of Viktor's affections. Lucian working as a blacksmith with his clan of purpose farmed servants forges the weaponry used to kill his uncontrollable brethren, the marauding werewolves prowling the woods outside the fortified castles walls.
In a fateful mistake, Lucian forgets his place and pursues a cross-species illicitly torrid love affair with Viktor's dashing and wilful daughter, Sonja (Rhona Mitra). As formidable resistance warrior and member of the vampire high council, Sonja and Lucian are forced to keep their union hidden in shallow pleasures.
Plans for the duo to escape are exposed when one day (sorry night) defying both Viktor's orders and Lucian's advice, headstrong Sonja proceeds with her duties and leads a team outside the fortress in routine lycan servant exchange.
Feeling the upsurge of his breeds power, Lucian is forced to break free the shackles to aid is love before the uncontrollable jaw snapping werewolves of the forest begin to feeding indiscriminately on the flesh of the living and undead alike.
Exposing both his method of escape and his ability to reason with the uncontrollable outsiders, Lucian falls from Viktor's favour and consequently stripped of his privileges. Thrown, like the rest of the animals, into underground confinement. Lucian devises an uprising of the underdogs in a vain attempt to both protect his beloved and free his kind.
Sadly, this is the point where the lacklustre storyline becomes tedious by completely losing visual cohesion with overabundant goofy fur-blur CGI, incoherently chaotic action sequencing and needless sword-and-sorcery shenanigans.
Utilising a muted palette of cobalt blue and slate grey that gave the other films such a cold and antiseptic feel this one is left gloomy, muddy and bland. The single injection of striking blue colour used to emphasise Nighy's soulless eyes has a cartoonish feel and borders on silly.
Nighy and Sheen have done themselves minimal favours in this film. The irrelevant talky stretches attempt to cash in on their respected thespian flair but considering the style of film and target audience lacks necessity.
Consistent with the earlier editions, Nighy continues his twitching glares through his utterly camp delivery and spits every syllable of the ludicrous dialogue with relish. Sheens over use of alarming faces is as instantly forgettable as the dark and dull cardboard set designs.
Mitra brings an undeniable screen presence to the character Sonja. Surprisingly she holds her own against the pleather clad memory of previous lead female Selene carved by Kate Beckinsale. Although well acted Mitra is unable to inject life into the love between Sonja and Lucian who have virtually no onscreen chemistry.
Diminishing the grandeur of its S&M style predecessors, Underworld 3's direct-to-video ho-hum style fails to hold audiences with its stilted and bland dialogue, donky-kong action sequences, awkward camera angles and labyrinthine plotting.
The Verdict: Bucking the trend of frenzied urban shoot-outs in dingy grey modern cities, Underworld 3 steps away form the formulaic style of its predecessors and falls flat. This movie leaves you with the same basic feeling as buying a rubber mallet and striking yourself repeatedly until you begin to black out. No wait that would have made for a more interesting evening.
Published: The Queanbeyan Age
Date of Publication: 09/02/2009