Skip to content

January 29, 2009


Movie Review – Underworld: Rise of the Lycans (2009)



Underworld: Rise of the Lycans is the third entry in the vampire vs. werewolf action-horror series. This review will be shorter than usual because I don’t have a lot to say about this movie. What I do have to say basically elaborates on this recommendation: if you’re a fan of the series, see Rise of the Lycans; if you’re not, don’t.

A prequel, Rise of the Lycans relates the origins of the centuries-long inter-species war that is the backdrop to the first two films. The story is built around the best scene in Underworld: Evolution, a flashback showing the execution of vampire princess Sonja by her father, vampire elder Viktor, while her lycan lover Lucian, bound in chains and helpless to save her, was forced to look on. Lucian is played by Michael Sheen, Viktor by Bill Nighy, and Sonja by Rhona Mitra.

Rise of the Lycans has the same creature effects and gloomy visual aesthetic as its predecessors and, despite its faux-Medieval setting, highly similar set designs and costuming too. In the Underworld-verse, immortal creatures of the night have a static material culture (aside from their willing adoption of the latest advances in weaponry) to accompany their eternal loathing for lycans and disdain for humans.

The series is quite consistent in quality as well as in its “look.” This third entry is thankfully unburdened by the charisma-deficient Scott Speedman, co-star and dead weight hero of the first two films. While the accompanying absence of star Kate Beckinsale is a loss, not a gain, it is ameliorated by the elevation of Sheen and Nighy from supporting to starring roles. With a more comprehensible plot than Underworld: Evolution (2006), Rise of the Lycans is a bit better than the second film. Slower to get going than Underworld (2003), it is not quite as good as the first.

2 stars

2 Comments Post a comment
  1. Doc
    Jan 29 2009

    Nighy is the key to film’s success. Viktor is everything you want in a vampire lord. He’s ruthless, intelligent, and manipulative — with powers that are superhuman within the realms of darkness. The eyes alone are enough to make everyone except his daughter think twice before they cross him.

  2. Helen
    Jan 29 2009

    I just loved his delivery of lines like “the breadth of my magnanimity” and “bring me my knives.”