Combustible Celluloid
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With: Michael Sheen, Bill Nighy, Rhona Mitra, Steven Mackintosh, Kevin Grevioux, David Ashton, Geraldine Brophy, Leighton Cardno, Alexander Carroll, Elizabeth Hawthorne, Jason Hood, Mark Mitchinson, Tania Nolan, Craig Parker, Timothy Raby, Larry Rew, Peter Tait, Olivia Taylforth, Jared Turner
Written by: Danny McBride, Dirk Blackman, Howard McCain, based on a story by Len Wiseman, Robert Orr, Danny McBride
Directed by: Patrick Tatopoulos
MPAA Rating: R for bloody violence and some sexuality
Running Time: 93
Date: 01/22/2009

Underworld: Rise of the Lycans (2009)

2 Stars (out of 4)

Killer Slave

By Jeffrey M. Anderson

Quite frankly, Kate Beckinsale in a leather body suit was the best thing about this series and now that she's gone, there's not much left. This third installment is a prequel about the origins of the conflict between the werewolves (a.k.a. "the lycans") and the vampires. In the beginning, lycans are just savages. One day, a new kind of lycan is born, one that can revert back to human form. The vampire "king" Viktor (Bill Nighy) spares his life, and raises him to be Lucian (Michael Sheen). As a slave, Lucian is forced to wear a spiky collar that will instantly kill him if he changes. The king's daughter, Sonja (Rhona Mitra), is a badass who goes out on patrols and fights off invading lycans, though she still needs rescuing all the time. She and Lucian are having a secret affair that they keep secret from the lycan-hating Viktor (we see a ridiculous, practically subliminal "love" scene). Directed by Patrick Tatopoulos (who takes over for Len Wiseman), the film tends to forget that these are supernatural creatures (it's not scary at all), and it quickly turns into a pretty standard-issue "revolt of the slaves" action picture (with very poor action scenes). Any film that uses the term "lycans" instead of "werewolves" is already way too serious, but at least this time Nighy occasionally gets to chew on some scenery. The aforementioned Ms. Beckinsale appears in a cameo, but it could just be an outtake from one of the first two films. [See also Underworld and Underworld: Evolution.]

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