Tuesday, February 17, 2009

UNDERWORLD: Rise of the Lycans

The origins of the Underworld story are deep in the dark ages, hundreds of years before the tale of Selene and Micheal. Underworld's back story detailed Lucien's [Michael Sheen] Lycan uprising against Viktor [Bill Nighy] who, as a proud vampire had his own daughter Sonja put to death for consorting with Lucien. Underworld: Evolution furthered the tale by delving back further and giving us a glimpse into the story of the first immortal Alexander and his two sons - Markus the first Vampire and William the first Lycan. Both back stories were told through a series of flashbacks which I believe served the viewer well enough in explaining why things were the way they were and why things came to be.

Underworld: Evolution's present day story ended with all the elders - both Vampire and Lycan dead and presumed an ensuing chaos which, once contained, would have book ended the trilogy. However at some point it was decided to take the back story of Lucien, flesh it out and make a multi-million dollar movie with it as a the central plot and release it as a prequel. Why? This is pointless - we know what happens, we know how the feud between Lycans and Vampires came to be and we understand Lucien and Viktor's mutual hatred, so there was really no need for this.

Nevertheless I watched it, as it is a canonical part of the franchise and the characters appearing here were all played by the original actors save whomever played Sonja in the Underworld flashbacks; she was replaced by the delectable Rhona Mitra [who will never be as hot as Kate Bekinsale]. Suffice to say, it was certainly not the acting department that flawed this movie. Sheen was excellent, and if this whole movie was created just to showcase his physical talent on a broader scale then the first movies, then this isn't a problem. The man has been Tony Blair and David Frost recently, so why shouldn't he do something more fun. Bill Nighy showed a range of emotions here that before now would have been out of place for obvious reasons and through the performance of both leads- the story of their mutual loathing is cemented. I was also glad to hear Paul Haslinger, the ex-Tangerine Dream musician who after scoring the original Underworld returned to provide the musical accompaniment to this prequel.

Sadly a lot of the remainder of this movie, is what lets it down. It's plainly obvious that first time French director Patrick Tatopoulos tries to emulate Len Wiseman behind the camera but Michael Bay in the editing room; the result is a horrid mess. Tatopoulos shot everything is such darkness, one would think there was a single candle on set. Then he decided to use one of Len's coloured filters throughout - his dark blue one - on an already darkened set! I imagine people exiting the movie after an afternoon matinee that have a similar reaction to the daylight as the Vampires do here.

There are only two or three major action scenes - and while they are visceral, feature multiple dismemberments and some splendid impalings [provided your eyes have grown accustomed to the bleak darkness]- Tatopoulos' quick cuts prevents the camera from lingering on blood sprays or watching headless bodies fall lifeless to the ground. There's nothing like the magic of the preceding movie's flashback scene during which we witnessed multiple Vampires against a pack of Lycans where you'll remember the slow-motion dismemberment and the unforgettable moment where a Lycan devours a Vampires face through his helmet - there's none of that here, and it's a wasted opportunity for a "reinvention" of gore.

Final Verdict: Pointless prequel with some superb acting and some bloody action scenes [but obviously directed by a special effects artist] let down by a lack of slow-motion and a necessity to have eaten a good helping of carrots to improve your night vision before watching.

Colonel Creedon Verdict: ***

3 comments:

Constance said...

First of all, how is anyone by the name Patrick Tatopoulos French?

Secondly, you go to movies directed by French guys?

Thirdly, Vaughan told me that Jane told him that Beckinsale has a big crush on you. She's still waiting for her autographed photo.

Constance said...

(and I think that she's hoping for a naked one, but don't tell her I said!)

Colonel Creedon said...

1. He has a French mother and was born in Paris - that's in France, so he's a frog, or at least half him is, his Greek name is presumably from his Father...

2. I thought his Greek half directed it... my mistake.

3. After sending a naked picture of myself to Kate's agent and the strongly worded letter I got back from her solicitor, I'm pretty sure that either you, Vaughan or Thomas Jane were lying.