I enjoyed the original Underworld movie, and thought it was quite a good film. The second one was good, but I found it to be just a tad worse than the first one, which is usually what happens with sequels. Then came word of a prequel without the two main characters from the first two films, and I thought it would be wonderful based off of the flashbacks and dialogue in the first film. And it is; I believe this prequel to be the best of the Underworld films.
In this prequel, we see the birth of the Lycan leader Lucian (Michael Sheen), the first lycan who can transform into a werewolf and back into a human. In the birth scene, Viktor (Bill Nighy) has an inner conflict as he wants to slay the infant, but instead lets the young Lucian live. From there, Viktor raises Lucian as his favored lycan slave, and even claims to have thought of him as a son.
Lucian is loyal to the vampires, despite being a slave and having his kind treated as animals. He has no problems killing the other lycans, those who came before Lucian, because they are permanent werewolves; “beast incapable of thoughts or emotions”. Thus, Lucian kills several throughout the film, protecting vampires in the process, particularly one female vampire, Sonja (Rhona Mitra)… Viktor’s daughter.
If you thought the first one was too much of a Romeo and Juliet love story, then you ain’t seen nothing as this film blows that one out of the water. The lycan slave Lucian and Viktor’s vampire daughter Sonja are in love throughout the film.
Eventually Lucian disobeys Viktor’s rules and is imprisoned and marked for death. Realizing that he has to escape to live free, and for his kind to be free, Lucian rallies the lycans and humans to break free (with a little help from a vampire or two).
If you saw the first two films, particularly the first one, then you know how this movie ends. You know who dies and who lives, and in the one case you even know how the person dies. That doesn’t prevent the film from being an engaging affair and hopelessly rooting for the ill-fated lovers.
Rhona Mitra does a good job in her role as the rebellious daughter of the vampire elder. If you liked Beckinsale in the first two, you’ll pretty much like Mitra in this one. Michael Sheen reprises his role as the lycan leader and did so wonderfully. He works in the role, and I don’t know if anyone else could pull it off the way he does. Speaking off, no one could play Viktor better than Bill Nighy. He is just such a tremendous actor. His facial expressions are great, and will easily make you chuckle. Ditto to his line delivery, which is wonderful. Viktor, as much as you may despise him, really helps make this movie. He was great in the first one, and he has a much larger role in this one, which is probably a key reason this one is the best Underworld yet.
Underworld: Rise of the Lycans gets a three out of five: GOOD.