Underworld: Rise of the Lycans Review

This review is of the edited TV-14 version of the film. All thoughts below should be addressed as such as a review of the unedited version would be more negative

Underworld has returned for another title. This time we’re travelling to the past though so you won’t be seeing Selene and the hybrid fighter running around. While I would say this one’s weaker than the last two, it still delivers on what you would expect to see in an Underworld title. There’s a lot of action here and of course with the Lycans being main characters you can expect them to get a lot of screen time.

The movie begins by introducing us to the vampires dominion which is ruled by Viktor. At the very least he owns the strongest cabal from the Vampire bases and he rules it with an iron fist. The humans all have to bring him their riches and supplies if they want to keep being protected. That said, the Lycans have made this more complicated lately. They continue ransacking these places which undermines the people’s faith in Viktor.

Then you have his daughter Sonja who is having a secret affair with Lucian, one of the Lycan. Lucian is the only one allowed to have at least a little respect and power within the vampire ranks. He shows more reason than the rest of the werewolves and he has agreed to serve Viktor. The other vampires don’t like this though and do what they can to make his days as uncomfortable as possible. This could have been the end of it, but Viktor continually shows that he will never respect the Lycans so Lucian decides they will need to escape. Can he really break all of them free from the vampire shackles?

What this film really underscores is that Viktor is 100% responsible for the war that ends up breaking. His advisors warn him to treat the Lycans a bit better or there could be an issue. They tell him that patrols are needed to watch over the human villages so they don’t revolt either. Viktor won’t hear any of it and continues to say that his way is the best way. Of course this couldn’t be further from the truth.

Then you have the way he treats Lucian. You’d think that he would want to keep Lucian at least a bit comfortable since the rest of the Lycan will follow his lead. That’s not the case though as he punishes Lucian for saving Sonja since the werewolf had to transform in order to do it. Really? So you’re penalizing him for saving your daughter. We all know Viktor would have murdered Lucian if something had happened to Sonja so the game just felt rigged in that sense.

Viktor absolutely sped up the time table of the revolt and he was as oblivious as can be. I thought he made for a pretty hype villain in the first film but here he just looks incompetent at his job. If he had even a little sense of strategy he would have been able to have put the vampires in a good spot.

Meanwhile, Lucian makes for a decent lead. The fact that he basically works to destroy his own kind at the vampire’s orders hurts him for the first half though. It takes a while for Lucian to effectively decide to stand against them and that’s really only when the issue is forced. He does make the right call in deciding to go back to try to save Sonja though. Ultimately there wouldn’t be much meaning in escaping if it meant leaving her behind.

Here we see Lucian fight as more of a warrior than a beast and he looked rather impressive. It’s still hard to see him taking on most vampires but it does look like you keep some of your strength in human form. Ultimately I think his fans will be satisfied with his portrayal here. As for Sonja, you know how her story will end from the start and the film’s more about seeing how the situation unfolds. Her skills were impressive as she even overpowered Viktor. It would have been nice if she would have made a move to escape earlier with Lucian since that started leading things on the wrong path but in a mansion of vampires the mission can be difficult.

The cast is fairly small here as the rest of the characters are mainly just supporting figures who don’t really get much of a role. We do get to see more of Raze here who was the loyal right hand man to Lucian. He’s dependable here as well and you can see why he earned the role. The guy doesn’t fear his opponents the way that most fighters do.

The action scenes here are pretty solid. You definitely have a lot of back and forth and the best battle is either Lucian or Sonja against Viktor. Not surprising since he usually makes for the best fights. The effects are on point and the mansion visuals are good. I do miss the modern aesthetic of the earlier films though. Looking at the forest and a medieval setting just can’t beat a modern city.

There’s not a lot to say about the soundtrack though. This film also gets held down by all the same negatives of the first two films so it’s nothing new in that respect. The film really goes over the top with all the violence everywhere. Characters are eaten, ripped apart, and drained dry. You can expect a high body count here of course. The lucky characters are the ones who are instantly destroyed as opposed to being roughed up first.

The romance with Lucian and Sonja also ends up falling here. It all happens rather quickly although presumably the affair’s been going on for a long while in secret. How they ever got together is not something the film has time for since it’s not the longest. Taking out that subplot and redirecting that to some more politics with the humans would have been nice.

For me the highlight of the film is the ending scene as we get a glimpse into the present timeline. It’s an old scene but with 1 new word of dialogue which was probably cropped from the climax of the first film. It’s just a nice way to end things off with a character being in complete denial at the end. Of course that would soon change in the sequels.

Overall, Prequels are a good way to build lore and many franchises use this tactic. Personally it’s very rare to find a prequel that is super engaging because I’m always more interested in finding out what’s going on in the present. Effectively this would delay that journey 3 more years if I had been watching live. Still, now we know the full origin of the war. I’ll also have the review of the next film up pretty quickly. If you liked the first 2 films then you’ll want to check this one out but otherwise you will already know if this is a series that you’ll want to skip. It really plays out very similarly to the others.

Overall 2/10