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Underworld: Rise of the Lycans


Stars: Michael Sheen, Rhona Mitra, Bill Nighy, Steven Mackintosh, Kevin Grevioux, David Aston, Elizabeth Hawthorne, Larry Rew

Director: Patrick Tatopoulos

This merry monster mash continues the vampires vs werewolves saga that began in 2003 with Underworld and ploughs on unabated with a new director (Tatopoulos (who designed the creatures for all three Underworld films) at the helm and original helmer Len Wiseman as producer. The storyline returns to the start of the series to show how the enslaved Lycan werewolves rise up against their cruel aristocratic vampiric Death Dealer masters and is well used by Tatopoulos to deliver plenty of violent action decorated by lashings of spectacle and spectacular special effects, while still allowing its leads to make their mark against the could-be overwhelming movie magic.

Ironically, perhaps, in the week when he is wittily portraying one-time major TV personality David Frost, Sheen, sporting enough hair to makes toupees for Bruce Willis, Bruce Forsyth and Nicolas Cage and still have enough left over to stuff a double-bed mattress, scores as the vengeful lycanthrope who catalyses the struggle against vile vampire Nighy and his blood-sucking mob and Mitra replaces Kate Beckinsale (very briefly seen in a flashback) as the sexy sword-swinging bloodsucker whose clandestine romance with Sheen starts things sizzling.

Sheen shines while Nighy camps it up enjoyably like a pantomime Demon King and Mackintosh comes over as seriously sinister, but in truth Underworld: Rise of the Lycans is not an actor-driven shocker, despite the key performances, but instead is accurately aimed at horror/action fans, with decorative man-to-creature transformations adding to the efficiently wrought entertainment. My guess is that there’s enough blood left in the series to guarantee the predicted-on-screen sequel. Which can't be a bad thing. In the meanwhile this will do very nicely indeed to be going on with.

Alan Frank

USA 2009. UK Distributor: Entertainment Film Distributors. Colour.
93 minutes. Widescreen. UK certificate: 18.

Guidance ratings (out of 3): Sex/nudity 2, Violence/Horror 3, Drugs 0, Swearing 0.

Review date: 26 Jan 2009