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Underworld: Rise of the Lycans
Information about Underworld: Rise of the LycansUnderworld: Rise of the Lycans is an American movie released Jan. 23, 2009 (4 years ago). It is the third installment in the Underworld series, focusing primarily on the origins of some characters and the events leading to the Vampire-Lycan war.
PlotThe movie tells the story of blacksmith Lucian (Michael Sheen), who was the first werewolf able to take human form and to be called a Lycan. Viktor (Bill Nighy), the ruthless elder of the vampires, takes him home after killing his werewolf mother. 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 home, his young daughter, Sonja (Rhona Mitra), develops an attraction to the young Lycan. Lucian becomes fond of Sonja as well.
It is revealed that Viktor has a relationship with the human population of the area, whereupon he agrees to protect them from the wild werewolves that roam the countryside in exchange for a tithe. As a collection of human nobles comes to meet with the vampire council for protection from the werewolves in exchange for this aforementioned tithe, Sonja goes out to guard them. Lucian hears the werewolves near Sonja and steals a horse and sword from a nearby Death Dealer. Wild werewolves proceed to attack and kill the nobles, causing Lucian to engage in a battle with them. When Lucian takes off his collar and changes into a Lycan in order to protect Sonja, the wild werewolves back down to his howl and leave before Lucian is shot down by Viktor's men. Viktor, despite grudging acknowledgment that Lucian has saved his daughter, notes that Lucian has still transgressed the laws of the coven by taking off the collar that keeps him in check (its inward-pointing spikes are designed to kill him if he changes into a Lycan) and feels betrayed by what he thinks of as his favorite pet. Subsequently, he locks Lucian away after having him whipped thirty times with a three-pronged chain-bladed whip.
With the help of the scheming vampire Andreas Tanis (who knows about Lucian's and Sonja's secret love), Tanis and Sonja orchestrate Lucian's release. In exchange (and to ensure he doesn't tell Viktor), Sonja promises Tannis her seat on the vampire Council. Lucian escapes, kills several of the Vampires and begins to liberate the other Lycans from their unfair imprisonment. The guards are alerted and start to slaughter the escaping Lycans. Sonja remains behind but when Viktor discovers that she has had a forbidden relationship with Lucian, he imprisons her. Meanwhile, Lucian and some of the freed Lycans roam the nearby countryside recruiting many of the labourers of the human nobles to their fight for freedom from both the nobles and the vampires. Lucian also travels to a cavernous location that is teeming with werewolves in attempt to make contact with them. Back at the fortress, the Vampire nobles are outraged at the escape and growing chaos with the Lycans, demanding that Viktor brings Lucian back. Viktor assures them that Lucian will return on his own since Viktor has something that Lucian wants (Sonja).
Lucian and his followers are waiting in the forest for Sonja to join them, as they had previously agreed. However, instead Lucian learns about Sonja's imprisonment from one of Sonja's attendants and sets out to rescue her. Lucian orders his Lycan followers to wait for now, but be prepared to attack if he does not return. Lucian successfully rescues Sonja from the fortress but on their way out they are attacked by the Death Dealers. Viktor is also involved in the chase and when it comes to the fight, it is Sonja who confronts Viktor. When Sonja discloses to him that she is pregnant with Lucian's child, Viktor overpowers her with a knife to the throat and imprisons both her and Lucian with renewed hatred. Sonja is sentenced to death for her crime against the coven at a trial presided over by her father and the Council(Victor was the last to vote for execution and did fall in tears afterward). After being chained and whipped again, Lucian is forced to witness Sonja's death, in which she is burned to death by overexposure to sunlight. Lucian, deeply exhausted, saddened and shaken after witnessing the death of his love, passes out. Victor hears his scream and falls to tears once more.
Lucian awakens when Viktor comes in to view his now deceased daughter. As Viktor sadly removes the pendant necklace he had given Sonja, an enraged Lucian transforms and overpowers Viktor. Lucian takes Sonja's pendant and escapes out of a window. The escape is stopped at the castle walls by Death Dealers as Lucian is repeatedly shot with crossbows. With a thunderous howl, Lucian summons the freed Lycans and the wild werewolves, who attack the coven and overwhelm it after a fierce battle, killing all the defending vampires and Death Dealers. The Vampire Council members are also killed along with their aides, lesser vampire nobles and councilors while trying to flee the council chamber. Viktor, meanwhile, sends Tanis to remove the slumbering Amelia and Markus from their crypt, before joining the battle with his personal guard. Tanis is last seen lowering three coffins (two containing Markus and Amelia, and an empty one for Viktor) onto a boat, and then heading out to sea.
Lucian sees Viktor entering the fray and fights his way to him. Viktor unsuccessfully tries to escape Lucian and they battle their way to the catacombs. The fight continues back and forth until Lucian knocks Viktor down a well. Lucian tears at chains hanging from above, making a hole in the roof and allowing sunlight in and 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 emerges to the courtyard which is ringed with the surviving Lycans and freed slaves. He 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. In one of the closing scenes we see Tanis leading a very alive Viktor, who survived due to his status as an Elder, into a hibernation chamber on a boat.
The movie 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, and that Viktor spared her because she reminded him of Sonja, the daughter he condemned to death; Selene replies to Kraven, "Lies!"
ProductionIn sep. 2003 (10 years ago), shortly after the release of Underworld (2003, 10 years ago), production companies Screen Gems and Lakeshore planned to release a prequel as the third movie following Underworld's sequel, Underworld: Evolution (2006, 7 years ago). Kate Beckinsale (76 walls), who portrayed Selene in Underworld, expressed interest in reprising her role for the sequel and the prequel.
In dec. 2005 (8 years ago), 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 Jun. 2006 (7 years ago) interview, Wiseman said, "The third movie 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 (76 walls) 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 following October, actor Michael Sheen, who portrays Lucian in the movie series, expressed interest in being part of the prequel.
The Hollywood Reporter announced on Oct. 26, 2007 (6 years ago) that the movie will be written by Danny McBride and mark the directorial début of Patrick Tatopoulos, who designed the creature effects for all three Underworld films. Len Wiseman will produce, and contribute to the writing of this film, but will not direct, nor will Kate Beckinsale (76 walls) reprise her lead role of Selene nor will Scott Speedman reprise his role of Michael.
The movie was shot in Auckland, New Zealand and in Roxboro, North Carolina. There is a brief pickup shot of Tenaya Lake in Yosemite National Park as well.
ReceptionUnderworld: Rise of the Lycans was distributed to 2,942 theatres on its opening day (23 Jan. 2009 (4 years ago)) 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 movie 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 Jan. 2009 (4 years ago) 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 movie 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 26 Apr. 2009 (4 years ago), the movie has grossed estimated $45,802,315 in North America and $89,971,676 at the box office worldwide.
The movie received mostly "mixed or mediocre" reviews. According to the review aggregate website Rotten Tomatoes, 32% of critics gave the movie positive reviews based on 71 reviews. However, viewers on the website were more positive, rewarding the movie an 81% "Fresh" rating. At the website Metacritic, which assigns a normalized rating out of 100 to reviews from mainstream critics, the movie has received an average score of 44, based on 14 reviews. Joe Leydon of Variety 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 movie 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 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 movie "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 movie a positive review was Claudia Puig of USA Today, who thought that the movie was "surprisingly campy fun, mostly succeeding through the power of its lead performances".
Manohla Dargis of The New York Times commented that the movie "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 movie a C+ grade, describing the movie 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 rated the movie 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 described the movie 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."
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