Plot: Viktor (Nighy), the cruel king of the vampires, has persecuted the Lycans for centuries. Young Lycan Lucian (Sheen) rallies his people against Viktor and his Death Dealer warriors. With his secret lover Sonja (Mitra), a vampire, at his side, Lucian leads the werewolves in a final battle to break free of enslavement - or die trying.
Reviewed498 words (Est. Reading Time 2m 29s)
- ...not a bad prequel - but Kate's presence is sorely missed.
When I first heard they were making another Underworld (2003) film, I was excited. After all, who doesn’t want to see Kate Beckinsale kicking vampire and werewolf butt again? Then I found out this 3rd film was going to be a prequel – and Kate Beckinsale wasn’t going to be in it. Instead, Rhona Mitra was going to take her place this time around. What?
Hearing that, I decided to wait for the DVD to check out Underworld: Rise of the Lycans. Would Rhona Mitra be able to do a better job than she did in Doomsday (2008)? Or would viewers spend the entire film missing Kate?
While Rhona isn’t quite up to the task of taking over for Kate in the action genre, that actually works for Underworld: Rise of the Lycans. Since this a prequel, technically Kate is taking over for Rhona in the series, and that works extremely well. Rhona does do a decent job in her role, but she doesn’t quite have the same spark that Kate brings to the series.
Bill Nighy, who seemed to have slacked off a bit with his role in Underworld: Evolution (2006) – turning his character into nothing more than the uncharismatic faceless villain typical of horror films – corrects his mistakes in this 3rd film, making his performance fun to watch on screen once more.
Since the story is based on immortal (or nearly immortal) characters, there is a nice familiarity to most of the cast, despite the fact this film is set hundreds of years before Underworld (2003). That way, despite the lack of Kate’s presence, the viewer has a nice feeling of continuity with the previous films since even some bit players make a return appearance.
While having a largely familiar cast is a good thing, the familiarity of the plot is a bit of a detraction. Based on the typical “Romeo & Juliet” love story, the plot seems a bit too cliched to really connect with viewers – plus, viewers already have a pretty good idea how things are going to turn out, preventing them from really getting involved with the story.
Thankfully, the actual werewolf rising mentioned in the title is worth a look, even if that is almost a cliche in and of itself by this point. Still, watching Lucian rally the wolves into risking everything for a daring escape attempt – and watching the beginning of the war mentioned in Underworld (2003) unfold before the viewer’s eyes is definitely entertaining. Thanks to the afore-mentioned escape attempt and a climactic final battle, the viewer should snap back into the story quickly – and fans of the series get a couple of the action sequences they’ve been waiting for.
Despite the rather cliched plot ideas, the familiarity of most of the cast, as well as a more memorable performance this time around by Bill Nighy, Underworld: Rise of the Lycans turns out to be a decent prequel in the series – even with Kate’s absence.