We watched Underworld: Rise of the Lycans and it was an entertaining movie. This movie review has very limited, non-consequential spoilers.
Originally when I had heard that a new Underworld movie was going being released, I was excited for two reasons: Kate Beckinsale and the first two movies were good. Then I was a bit crushed to find that the lead would not be Beckinsale but rather Rhona Mitra (who I know mostly from The Practice and Boston Legal as Alan Shore’s love interest) will be the new lead. Before we discuss why Beckinsale didn’t reprise the role, let’s get the general premise of the third installment of the Underworld trilogy.
Underworld: Rise of the Lycans is a prequel explaining the back-story of the Vampire/Werewolves long war. It centers on Viktor (Bill Nighly), one of the three Vampires Elders, his daughter Sonja (Rhona Mitra), and Lucian (Michael Sheen) who is the first werewolf able to shift back to human form. During this time period, Viktor is leader of the vampire coven, and as explained in Underworld, a single Vampire Elder leads the coven for a 100-year period at a time. He offers protection to the human lords in the surrounding areas from roving wild werewolves and paid a handsome tithe. The distinction between werewolves and Lycans are that werewolves are not able to take human form. Lucian, the first Lycan, born of a first-generation werewolf in human form, is spared by Viktor and becomes his personal slave, head blacksmith, and essentially the father to other Lycans whom Viktor enslaves to be castle guards for the vampires. Sonja, Viktor’s daughter, is a strong opinionated warrior and council member who refuses to listen to her father’s orders and takes charge of leading missions against werewolves. On one particular mission, he saves her from three ferocious werewolves as she is returning to the vampire coven that sparks off the story. I can’t really say more without giving away the plot.
So why isn’t Beckinsale the lead in Underworld: Rise of the Lycans. Well I didn’t connect the dots until near the end as I kept thinking the entire time that Mitra was playing Beckinsale’s character Selene who appears in the first two Underworld movies. It is important to note that Sonya is Viktor’s actual blood daughter whereas Selene is “adopted” by Viktor.
I found the movie entertaining as it does a good job of explaining and connecting the Underworld movies. Throughout the movie, you’ll recognize familiar faces from the other Underworld movies such Viktor, Lucian, and a few other ones that I’ll leave for you to catch. I found Mitra entertaining as Sonja, but I don’t think she has the same pizazz as Kate Beckinsale as Mitra seems a bit flat in portraying Sonja. The standout actor is definitely Michael Sheen as Lucian with a close second of Bill Nighly as Viktor. The special effects were neat throughout the movie such as the Lycan transformation, but nothing to write home about. If you have never seen any of the Underworld movies, you could feasibly watch Underworld: Rise of the Lycans and then watch the other Underworld movie. You can read more in-depth information from Wikipedia here and also this Wikipedia article, but be warned that both articles contains total spoilers. There are also internet rumors of an Underworld 4 with a possible 2011 release date.
The movie runs for 92 minutes and was released on January 23, 2009.