DVD/Blu-ray Reviews

Underworld: Rise of the Lycans - Blu-ray Review



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</script></div>{/googleAds}Personally, I think it was multiple viewings of John Boorman's Excalibur that warped my medieval film sensibilities; it was dark, uncomfortably violent and harsh in both its depictions of sex and war and it was insanely heroic while at the same time deeply unsettling. As a result, when it comes to certain settings for a movie you know, castles and swords and cobwebs and chicks in chainmaille and maybe just a little splash of spookiness I have a quotient of expectations that must be checked, rechecked and finally assessed; however, Underworld: Rise of the Lycans hits every single one of those categories and then some. It's highly entertaining while remaining true to the dark atmosphere and storyline of the first two films; not a tired retread of all things black and leather-like.

Underworld:  Rise of the LycansWhen Len Wiseman envisioned the first Underworld, he is reported to the interested press that the actual storyline was imagined as a multiple film scenario that, upon conclusion, would tell one complete story in the battle between wolf and bat which is essentially a retelling and retooling of America's Civil War. It was back then that he hinted that the third film would be the prequel and would fully flesh out the origin story only hinted at with the events in the first one. I, for one, love when directors stick to their pronounced vision and then deliver the goods. Wiseman wasn't joking because that's exactly what Underworld: Rise of the Lycans is the prequel. We take a break in the continuing story of Selene (Kate Beckinsale) and Michael (Scott Speedman) and are thrust into the story of how the battle between the Lycans and the Vampires began.

The film opens with the grueling reality of captivity as Viktor, effortlessly reprised by the classic cool styles of Bill Nighy, witnesses the birth of a Lycan named Lucian, another original cast reprise by Michael Sheen, from one of his slave werewolves. Unable to bring himself to kill the baby, Viktor raises him close to his own if he had one heart. He watches his skill with thoughts on the future. Possibly, this breed of werewolf blessed with the ability to transform from man to wolf could be trained or soldiered to be the guards for the Death Dealers. And so, Lucian remains alive and is fully trained in combat under Viktor's presence; however, once Sonja (Rhona Mitra) and Lucian's secret affair is revealed and the harsh punishment is dealt out to all those involved, the consequences are felt for all eternity, directly relating to the present day (see the 4th Underworld film when it arrives in theatres).

Taking over in the director's chair for Wiseman is Patrick Tatopoulos who does incredible work imagining and capturing this highly charged world on film injecting it with a healthy dose of constant brutality and keeping the blue/black stylized tones of the first two films firmly in place while letting his actors do their job in creating the characters they briefly portrayed in the original film. No beat is missed in having a different director take the helm and that credit is due to all the creative talents who love the series so much as to stay involved with it throughout the years.

I don't believe this is a love it or hate it scenario when it comes to this series. Underworld: Rise of the Lycans suffers no side effects from a lowered budget (I do believe it was the highest grossing of all three films) and remains a creative endeavor that is truly worthy of at least two more films in the series. For fans of vampires and werewolves alike, Underworld: Rise of the Lycans gives you something a little meatier than Twilight to sink your teeth into.


Component Grades
Movie
DVD
3 Stars
4
DVD Experience
3.5

Blu-ray

DVD Details:

Screen Formats: 2.39:1

Subtitles: English, English SDH, French, Spanish, Portuguese

Language and Sound: English: Dolby TrueHD 5.1; French: Dolby TrueHD 5.1; Spanish: Dolby Digital 5.1; Portuguese: Dolby Digital 5.1

Supplements:

Commentary:

  • Feature-length commentary track with French director Patrick Tatopoulos, Underworld series creator Len Wiseman, executive producer James McQuaide, and producers Richard Wright and Gary Lucchesi.

Featurettes:

  • Exclusive! Behind the Castle Walls
  • The Origin of the Feud (HD, 19 minutes)
  • Re-creating the Dark Ages (HD, 13 minutes)
  • From Script to Screen (HD, 9 minutes)
  • Exclusive! Lycanthropes Around the World
  • Exclusive! Cinechat

BD-Live Functionality

Music video: William Control's Deathclub. Woo.

Number of Discs: 2 with Digital copy of film.

{pgomakase}

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