Saturday, January 24, 2009

Underworld: Rise of the Lycans

I needed to bounce back from Twilight. Despite having no outwardly violent comments about the movie. I like the book better, but what can the movie do to appease my taste? I'm not really into teenage, lovey-dovey materials no matter how they try to incorporate vampires and werewolves into the picture. A part of making them a legend will always be how Vampires and Werewolves are perceived. They shouldn't be lovey-dovey and hormonal, that's reserved for human stories. They have strict temperament and characteristics uniquely their own. They are mystical and powerful creatures that best display their traits in action, not in drama. So you can't imagine how I wanted to watch Underworld: The Rise of the Lycans.

I've seen the trailer late last year and I was so happy that this weekend was devoted for that. There were minimal "threats" of not making it into reality, but good thing my movie date knew it had to push through as an unspoken priority. We both needed to bounce back from Twilight. So after accomplishing the morning tasks and going to, would you believe, Quezon Avenue for lunch, we headed back to Makati to secure our seats for Underworld.

This underworld is a prequel to Underworld and Underworld Evolution which concentrated on descendants Selene and Michael Corvin played by Kate Beckinsale and Scott Speedman. I've seen both movies (in DVDs) and I like the concept. I like how they incorporated and represented vampires and werewolves into a modern gothic setting with easily acceptable plot. It was an action-suspense movie unlike any other, meshing reality without losing the essence of what these mystical creatures are all about. But this particular Underworld: Rise of the Lycans are set in the Dark Ages where they didn't have bullets and leather cat suits as costumes. This is their take on a medieval setting where vampires use swords and bows while Lycans, well...use their usual strength and metamorphosis in battle. This movie is a prequel to explain how such "passionate" animosity started between the barbaric Lycans and the aristocratic Vampires. Needless to say it was brought by the love of a lycan and a vampire that led to further mythological divide. It might echo the Romeo and Juliet drama, but it wouldn't drown you with kilig, it would drown you with passion and adult intensity. Also, the movie aims to rewind and provide more background and strength to the widely recognized Underworld installments. So if there's such a thing as enjoying history in a movie, this one is one of them.

But the movie is SHORT. If I have to put it in other words, it's BITIN. I don't know if Benjamin Button screwed my movie tolerance, but Underworld:The Rise of the Lycans was damn fast. I appreciate the fast paced movement of the story, but if not for the action scenes and itsy bitsy passion exhibits here and there, I believe I would've mistaken it as a daily soap opera. I understand that the plot may not be too rich, but there is exactly no reason to make it complicated either. It's a story about a powerful Lycan, Lucian, who was used by the Vampire's ruthless head Viktor. As Lycans increased their population, Lucian becomes caught in between saving his own kind and inconveniently loving Sonja, Viktor's only daughter. Secret lovers they became, which sprung complications for both races. Uncovering betrayal against struggling to find loyalty and freedom forced the two race to divide further.

Aside from the movie being fast paced and short, there are manageable fight scenes that just deserve a glance. There is nothing uniquely special . Action scenes in Underworld 1 and 2 are more elaborate but one must consider that it was set in the dark ages when Lycans at that time weren't that skillful in fighting yet. In this movie, Lycans just do the natural thing which are to transform, roar and attack. But do not expect Vampires to awe you either. Vampires depicted here may be aristocratic and regal, but they are complacent and very artillery dependent. There is nothing here that would make you want to leap and dance with delight. In fact, except for the Lycan transformations and focus, action scenes aren't something you'd highly look forward to. It was just essential and needed in the story.

But I must be happy with the cast. Bill Nighy as Viktor is superb. He just transforms effortlessly into this elder vampire and puts the capital C in the Chill. Michael Sheen as Lucian, well is not as buffed as I've imagined, but he has a certain appeal. He has an intense performance of displaying raw emotions, which I like. The two weren't much of a surprise since they've just reprised their roles from two previous Underworld movies. The introduction was focused on Rona Mitra's character Sonja who is the sensual, powerful and the only bridge that made the races clash to their respective wars that carried on to centuries until the modern era.

The movie may be short, but it is moderately enjoyable. Do not expect anything grand though lest you be disappointed. But for whatever reason that you need to watch this, I wouldn't stop you. The gore and fight scenes might be too much for Twilight die hard fanatics, but I believe that's what Vampires and Werewolves are all about. I wouldn't have it any other way.

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