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PHOTOGRAPHY

UNDERWORLD: RISE OF THE LYCANS

DVD Review by David Blackwell

 

DETAILS:   92 minutes, audio commentary, three featurettes, music video, previews

VIDEO:   2.40:1 (Anamorphic Widescreen)

AUDIO:   English, French, Spanish, Thai 5.1 Dolby Digital

Subtitles:   English, French, Spanish, Thai, Chinese, Korean

 

STUDIO:   SPHE/ Screen Gems/ Lakeshore Entertainment/ Sketch Films

DVD RELEASE DATE:  5-12-2009

UNDERWORLD and UNDERWORLD: EVOLUTION was the end of the story (where the beginning of UNDERWORLD: EVOLUTION served as a mini-prequel).   Now UNDERWORLD: RISE OF THE LYCANS serves as the prequel to UNDERWORLD.  Witness the start of the war between Viktor and Lucian.  Lucian was a Lycan slave to Viktor and other vampires.  Lucian and Sonja (Rhona Mitra), Viktor's daughter, fell in love with each other.    Viktor is all for strict rules and punishes without mercy when someone breaks his rules.  Lucian makes a key to take off his slave collar and removes it when he has to go out and save Sonja from the more wild Lycans (who will never be able to turn back into human).  Viktor sees it as a chance to punish Lucian.

Viktor's arrogance and strict rules (and the enslavement of the less wild Lycans)  caused the war.   Marcus turned the right person to bring down his wild Lycan brother William, but Marcus didn't count on how merciless and stupid Viktor could be.  Viktor is the big cause of why the lycans rose.  Viktor could have stopped it by not enslaving the Lycans bred from Lucian (or kill Lucian as a baby), but clear thinking has never been Viktor's strength.  Viktor tends to rule with brute force and violence- an oppressive hand so to speak.  All the events of the UNDERWORLD films are brought out of Viktor's mistakes.

Shifting back to UNDERWORLD: RISE OF THE LYCANS, the prequel somewhat tells the story of the war's start somewhat successfully.   If only they could have expanded the story a little bit by a few minutes and added just a little more character development for the start of the film, the film could have been as good as the first UNDERWORLD.   Still a repeat viewing on DVD has made the film better, but I do still wish it was longer.   I do wish Rhona Mitra had more time in the film even though the focus is on Lucian and Viktor (and not as much on Sonja).  However when things do get moving, the prequel rushes forward with a momentum that can't be stopped.   This film does leave room open for the film about Lucian's fall and Viktor's revenge.    UNDERWORLD: RISE OF THE LYCANS does help fill in the backstory only glimpsed at before or heard about.

SPECIAL FEATURES:

The feature audio commentary features talk about the production from acting, set design, and effects.  It is with Len Wiseman, Director Patrick Tatopoulus, Producer Richard Wright, another producer, and the VFX supervisor.  Len brings up the flashback scene from UNDERWORLD which wasn’t filmed like he wanted it due to running out of time and money (he always intended for Sonja to be dark haired0.  The director fo the prequel faced the same budget limitations.

 

Three featurettes on the DVD cover the making of the film:

FROM SCRIPT TO SCREEN- how the script came about (it was written quickly before the Writer’s Strike in 2007 and hinged on availability of the actors) to filming in New Zeland with Patrick Tatopoulus coming aboard as director (Len Wiseman was exhausted from directing the new DIE HARD).

THE ORIGIN OF THE FEUD-   actors, the director, and producers discuss the characters and the story.

RE-CREATING THE DARK AGES: THE LOOK OF UNDERWORLD: RISE OF THE LYCANS- a look at the details that went into the production design and visual effects of the prequel.

 

Rounding out the extras are a Death Club remix music video and previews for other Sony films (including the live action version of BLOOD: THE LAST VAMPIRE).  Sadly SPHE doesn’t include any of the trailers or TV spots for the new film.

 

FINAL ANALYSIS:   Even though the prequel is a little too short, it is a better film upon repeat viewings.  The prequel comes in two forms on DVD and Blu-Ray: as a single movie disc or as a trilogy set (that features the other two UNDERWORLD films).

 

 

This DVD review is (c)5-7-2008 David Blackwell (movie analysis features the review from 1-23-2009)  and cannot be reprinted without permission.  Send all comments to lord_pragmagtic@hotmail.com