|Underworld: Rise of the Lycans|
|Directed by||Patrick Tatopoulos|
|Written by|| Len Wiseman |
|Starring|| Bill Nighy |
|Produced by|| Gary Lucchesi |
|Music by||Paul Haslinger|
|Distributed by||Screen Gems|
|Release date||January 23, 2009|
|Followed by||Underworld: Awakening|
Underworld: Rise of the Lycans is an American film released January 23, 2009. It is the third (chronologically, first) installment in the Gothic Underworld film series, focusing primarily on the origins of characters and events leading to the Vampire-Lycan war.
The film tells the story of the origins of Lucian, the first Werewolf able to take human form - a bloodline that would come to be called Lycans. Viktor, the ruthless Vampire Elder of the Vampires, captures Lucian's Werewolf mother in a raid. After she gives birth to Lucian, the first human child born of a Werewolf, Viktor kills the mother but decides to spare the life of the infant. With Lucian's birth, Viktor envisions a race of Werewolf slaves for his Vampire clan that conceivably could keep guard during the daytime hours and toil for the Vampires. As Lucian grows up at Viktor's household, he eventually becomes the Coven's blacksmith. Over time, Viktor's young daughter, Sonja, develops an attraction to the Lycan, and Lucian becomes fond of Sonja as well.
As the Coven's Council meets, it is noticed that Viktor's daughter, who has a seat on the Council, is not present. Instead, she is out on patrol outside the walls of their stronghold and being chased down by wild Werewolves. Lucian, working in the blacksmith shop, can hear the Werewolves approaching and sees the guards preparing to defend the stronghold. Lucian helps to save Sonja by killing the approaching Werewolves. Viktor greets his daughter in the courtyard with a reprimand that she was supposed to be at the Council meeting and not outside the walls, leading to an argument over her responsibilities to the Coven. Viktor, noticing Lucian's eyes are on his daughter, warns Lucian that if he values his position with the family he should know to keep his eyes to the ground.
Later that night, Lucian and Sonja sneak away to be together and consummate their affections. He reveals to her that he has made a key that will open the collar that Viktor has forced the Lycan slaves to wear. Lucian asks Sonja to leave the Coven with him but she refuses. She implores Lucian not to leave so as not to be hunted down by the Death Dealers and asks that he never use the key. After their meeting, it becomes clear that another Vampire knows of their secret trysts.
It is revealed that Viktor has a tacit relationship with the human population of the area, whereupon he agreed to protect them from the wild Werewolves that roam the countryside in exchange for a tithe. As a family of human nobles come to meet with the Vampire council to pay the tithe for protection from the wild Werewolves, Sonja decides that she will go out to guard them, despite being ordered not to by her father and being warned by Lucian. After Sonja leaves, Lucian hears the Werewolves in the woods where Sonja has gone and steals a horse and sword from a nearby Death Dealer. Wild Werewolves proceed to attack and kill the nobles and their slaves. Lucian arrives to engage in a battle with them alongside the Vampires and one of the slaves. As they become overrun by the pack of Werewolves, Lucian realizes that the only way to survive is for him to shift into his wolf form. When Lucian takes off his collar and changes into a Lycan in order to protect Sonja and himself, the wild Werewolves back down to his howl and leave before Lucian is shot down by Death Dealers. Viktor states that Lucian has broken one of the laws of the Coven by taking off the collar that kept him in check and feels betrayed by what he thinks of as his favorite pet. He orders Lucian to be locked away for the rest of his life after having him whipped fifty times with a three pronged chain-bladed whip.
When Lucian comes to in the dungeon, he sees a slave that was able to fight off the Werewolves. The slave tells Lucian his name is Raze and that he had thought Werewolves existed only in stories. Sonja appears, and Lucian tells her that Andreas Tanis is aware of their relationship, and that she needs to discover what he wants in exchange for his silence. Sonja learns Tanis wants a seat on the Vampire Council. The two Vampires strike a deal for him to help her see Lucian in private. With only a few minutes to talk, Sonja warns Lucian that Viktor is going to have him executed the next day and that he should escape at sunrise. She promises to meet him in three days. The human slaves are taken to a Lycan transformed by the full moon without a collar and are bitten to continue to fulfill Viktor's legacy of Werewolf slaves. When the slaves are returned to their cell, Raze sees how the other Lycans are treated by the Vampires and asks the others if this is how they want to be treated. Before daybreak, Tanis pays a visit to Lucian and gives him the key to his freedom.
The next morning, a Vampire guard realizes that Lucian's cell is empty. He opens the cell door and Lucian attacks the guard. With the door now open, he makes his escape, freeing the other Lycans in the process. The guards are alerted and try to prevent the Lycans from escaping, however, Lucian and a few Lycans are able to escape into the woods. While some of the others want to run away and never look back, Lucian insists that they are not going to leave their brother Lycans behind and it is decided that they will free the slaves from the local nobles in order to help their cause. Lucian also decides that he will go to the den of the wild Werewolves in order to recruit them to help out. Upon his return to the camp he becomes increasingly concerned that Sonja has not arrived at their agreed upon meeting place. Sonja's lady-in-waiting, Luka, arrives and informs Lucian that Sonja has been arrested by Viktor.
When Viktor learns of the escape of the Lycans he goes to the dungeon to investigate for himself and realizes that Lucian used a key to unlock his collar. Suspecting he had help, he persuades Tanis to explain how Lucian could have gotten the key, and determines that Lucian must have made two keys. Viktor goes to Lucian's blacksmith shop and discovers that one of the floor grates is loose. Already suspicious of Lucian's feelings for his daughter, Viktor consults Sonja about a replacement for Lucian, and her response confirms his suspicions that she may have feelings for Lucian. He then questions her about her loyalty to the Coven and asks if she helped Lucian escape. When she denies it, he bites into her neck and learns of her illicit relationship with Lucian from her memories. Afterwards, he imprisons Sonja in her own room.
After learning about Sonja's imprisonment, Lucian sets out to rescue her. As they try to escape, they are attacked by Death Dealers. Viktor, who is also involved in the chase, is then confronted by Sonja, and it is at this time that she begs her father to spare their lives for the sake of his grandchild. Viktor, repulsed by the idea of his only daughter now carries the offspring of an animal, overpowers her with a hidden knife and imprisons both she and Lucian with renewed hatred. Sonja is brought before the council chamber to answer for charges of treason and is sentenced to death for her crimes against the Coven at a trial presided over by her father and the Council. Sonja and Lucian are taken to the execution room where Sonja is burned alive by sunlight while Lucian is forced to watch. When night arrives, Viktor returns to the room and retrieves the locket that he had given to Sonja when she was a little girl, a pained expression on his face. Lucian, upon seeing Viktor, becomes enraged and transforms into a Werewolf and attempts to escape again, grabbing Sonja's locket on the way out. Failing to make it to the exterior wall after being impaled by arrows, he is able to verbally summon both the wild Werewolves and the freed Lycans, who attack the Coven and overwhelm it after a fierce battle.
As Viktor and the remaining nobles attempt to fight off the Werewolves, he realizes that they may not win and tries to escape. Lucian fights his way to Viktor and follows him through the dungeon. There, Lucian finds Viktor and faces him in a fight. They battle their way through the dungeons until Lucian knocks Viktor down a well. While fighting among the chains in the well, Lucian notices that one of the chains tears a brick loose and starts to pull at chains hanging from above, making a hole in the roof and allowing sunlight in, cornering an enraged Viktor in the darkness. Viktor's "final" words attest to his regret at not having killed Lucian the moment he was born, to which Lucian sarcastically agrees before forcing his sword through Viktor's mouth and head and letting the body fall into the water below. Lucian declares this victory as only the beginning of what will surely be a war between the races, one bred for slavery and the other born into privilege. Inside a nearby ship, Tanis is seen leading a very alive Viktor into one of the three hibernation chambers placed on the boat while the Vampires are fighting with the Werewolves.
The film ends with the opening scene of the first Underworld, with the audio from the scene where Kraven tells Selene that it was Viktor who murdered her family, rather than the Lycans. He goes on to say that Viktor spared her because she reminded him of Sonja, the daughter he condemned to death. Selene's disbelieving voice is then heard to say "Lies" as the film ends.
- Rhona Mitra and Olivia Taylforth as Sonja
- Michael Sheen and Alexander Carroll as Lucian
- Bill Nighy as Viktor
- Steven Mackintosh as Andreas Tanis
- Kevin Grevioux as Raze
- David Aston as Coloman: A member of the Vampire Council who often questions and criticizes Viktor's actions
- Elizabeth Hawthorne as Orsova: A Vampire Councillor who also points out the flaws of Viktor's actions
- Jared Turner as Xristo
- Craig Parker as Sabas
- Larry Rew as Kosta
- Tania Nolan as Luka
- Timothy Raby as Janosh
- Peter Tait as Gyorg
- Kate Beckinsale as Selene: Beckinsale did not film new footage, a scene from Underworld was used to bookend the film. Beckinsale, however, provided a monologue for the beginning and end of the film.
"Two Decades had passed since the creation of both species. The war had begun. Viktor increased his army, creating a legion of Vampires to protect them from the very first clan of Werewolves: A vicious and infectious breed, unable to take human form ever again... Until 'He' was born. Lucian. And although every fiber of Viktor's soul warned him to slay this child, he did not. Over the years this child grew, he possessed a strength and focus that the ones before him did not. Viktor would use Lucian's infectious blood to his benefit, taking advantage of the child's thirst, pitting it against him as he was forced to feed off humans: Viktor's slaves. Instead, he created a new race of Immortals, Lycans. Werewolf, but also human. Unlike the others, this new breed could be harnessed, enslaved to guard them in the daylight hours of their Masters. Or so Viktor thought. So very long ago..."
In September 2003, shortly after the release of Underworld, production companies Screen Gems and Lakeshore Entertainment planned to release a prequel as the third film following Underworld's sequel, Underworld: Evolution. Kate Beckinsale, who portrayed Selene in Underworld, expressed interest in reprising her role for the sequel and the prequel.
In December 2005, Underworld: Evolution director Len Wiseman explained that the Underworld franchise was originally conceived as a trilogy. Wiseman said, "We sort of mapped out an entire history and story... a massive collection of ideas and stories that we're putting out at certain times." Wiseman anticipated creating a third installment for the franchise based on the audiences' reception of Underworld: Evolution, which would be released the following month.
In a June 2006 interview, Wiseman said, "The third film is going to be a prequel. It will be the origin story and we find out things we didn't know about Lucian; he'll have a much bigger part in it. It will be about the creation [of the races] and what started the war. It will be a period piece. The movie will also focus for the first time through the Lycans' point of view." The director also shared, "In terms of the writing, a lot of the writing has been done. We've been developing Underworld 3 for a while. I won't be directing Underworld 3: Rise of the Lycans; I'm just going to be producing and writing." When asked if Kate Beckinsale would reprise her role as Selene in the prequel, Wiseman said, "It will be in the time period before, but it will overlap into the creation of her as well. We're in the process of seeing how far we go with that."
The Hollywood Reporter announced on October 26, 2007 that the film would be written by Danny McBride and would mark the directorial début of Patrick Tatopoulos, who designed the creature effects for all three Underworld films. Len Wiseman would produce and contribute to the writing of the film, but would not direct, nor would Kate Beckinsale reprise her lead role of Selene, nor Scott Speedman as Michael Corvin.
Underworld: Rise of the Lycans was distributed to 2,942 theatres on its opening day (23 January 2009) in the United States and grossed an estimated US $8,050,000, debuting at number 1 at the box office. On its opening weekend, the film was ranked second at the box office behind Paul Blart: Mall Cop with $20.7 million, which is lower than the amount earned by Underworld and Underworld: Evolution ($21.8 million and $26.9 million respectively) on their opening weekends. 59% of the audience at the première was male, while 55% was over 25 years old. Overall, the limited day-and-date launch of Rise of the Lycans in the week ending 23 January 2009 accumulated $3.5 million in two dozen markets outside the U.S. at 455 theatres, a third of which was earned at the Australian box office. In the United Kingdom, the film was distributed to 339 theatres and obtained $1.4 million at the box office on its opening day, ranking as the second best opener of the week behind Valkyrie. As of 13 March 2009, the film has grossed an estimated $45,802,315 in North America and $77,708,931 at the box office worldwide.
The film received mostly mixed or average reviews. According to the review aggregate website Rotten Tomatoes, 32% of critics gave the film positive reviews based on 73 reviews. However, viewers on the website were more positive, rewarding the film a 67% "Fresh" rating. At the website Metacritic, which assigns a normalized rating out of 100 to reviews from mainstream critics, the film has received an average score of 44, based on 14 reviews. Joe Leydon of Variety Magazine gave a positive review, stating that director Patrick Tatopoulos "offers a satisfyingly exciting monster rally that often plays like a period swashbuckler" and that the film is "notably less frenetic (and appreciably more coherent) than its predecessors". He also praised the lead actors for their performances. Leydon described Rhona Mitra's performance as "more than adequate" but says that "her Sonja never achieves the pop-icon impact of Kate Beckinsale's Selene"; he felt that Michael Sheen "hits all the right notes in a star-powered performance that will amuse, if not amaze, anyone who only knows the actor as Tony Blair or David Frost", and that Bill Nighy "offers a sly and stylish turn as Viktor". Similarly, Michael Rechtshaffen of The Hollywood Reporter stated that the film "rises to the occasion" and that it "finds more life left than would be expected in the darkly stylized if dramatically flawed vampires vs. werewolves saga." He credited this to the "sturdy performances" of Sheen and Nighy and the "tidy, unfussy direction" by Tatopoulos. Also giving the film a positive review was Claudia Puig of USA Today, who thought that the film was "surprisingly campy fun, mostly succeeding through the power of its lead performances".
Manohla Dargis of The New York Times commented that the film "offers few surprises other than Mr. Sheen's vigorous, physical performance", articulating that Sheen is "the movie's greatest asset" and that his commitment to his role demonstrated that there is "some benefit to having a real performance even in a formulaic entertainment like this". Clark Collis of Entertainment Weekly gave the film a C+ grade, describing the film as "basically Were-Spartacus, though that makes the humorless, scare-free result sound much more fun than it is". He says, "Sheen and Nighy do their best with the material, but this is easily the worst Underworld so far." While he described the franchise as "grimly competent", Glenn Whipp of Los Angeles Times criticized Rise of the Lycans on its action sequences, which "accent incomprehensibility". Kim Newman of Empire Magazine rated the film one out of five stars and called it a "needless threequel", saying that it is unlikely for an audience who has not seen Underworld to "follow the tosh this passes off as a plot". He adds, "In former effects man Patrick Tatopoulos' vision, these Dark Ages were really dark – so dark, in fact, you can barely see the monster action or register why Sheen and Nighy felt the need to sign up." Richard Corliss of Time Magazine described the film as "sluggish when it's not grinding toward the preposterous" and that it "just wasn't that memorable". He noted further that the "Brit cast attempts to camouflage the silliness by swanning it up, as if the Royal Shakespeare Company had gotten communally drunk and staged an impromptu production of Dracula Meets the Wolfman."
Underworld: Rise of the Lycans was released to DVD on May 18, 2009.
The film's official soundtrack was released by Lakeshore Records on January 13, 2009.
Kevin Grevioux will be adapting the story into a two-issue mini-series for IDW Publishing.
This film has a quotes category.
|Films||Underworld: Rise of the Lycans - Underworld - Underworld: Evolution - Underworld: Awakening - Underworld: Next Generation|
|Topics||Death Dealer - Hybrid - Lycan - Vampire - Corvinus Strain - Human - Immortal - Werewolf - Vampire Elder|
|Publishings||Underworld: Evolution comic - Underworld: Red in Tooth and Claw - Underworld: Evolution novel - Underworld novel - Underworld: Rise of the Lycans novel - Underworld comic - Underworld: Rise of the Lycans comic - Blood Enemy|
|Animation||Underworld: Endless War|
|Soundtracks||Underworld: Rise of the Lycans - Underworld - Underworld: Evolution - Underworld: Awakening|
|Scores||Underworld - Underworld: Evolution - Underworld: Rise of the Lycans - Underworld: Awakening|
Underworld: Rise of the Lycans
|Lucian - Sonja - Viktor - Raze - Andreas Tanis|
|Soren - Sabas - Orsova - Coloman - Kosta - Luka - Xristo - Sandor - Ivan - Ilona|
|Silver - Shurikens - Swords - Crossbow - Knives - Whips|
|Vampire - Lycan - Immortal - Human - Werewolf|
|Castle Corvinus - Elders' Ship|
|Corvinus Strain - Vampire Council - Death Dealer - Vampire Elder - The Chain - Blood Memories - Old World Coven|
|Items - Soundtrack - Score - Novel - Comic - Quotes - Videos - Images|