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Underworld: Rise of the Lycans

Year: 2009
Production Co: Sketch Films
Director: Patrick Tatopoulos
Producer: Len Wiseman
Writer: Danny McBride/Dirk Blackman/Howard McCain
Cast: Rhona Mitra, Bill Nighy, Michael Sheen
The Underworld movies have made an interesting franchise. It's never punched above its weight, although original director Len Wiseman did wring a lot of value on screen for the original out of a small budget. They've promised thrills and blood, and delivered them without delusions about their own importance.

This film supplants the action to the dark, rainy, medieval times when Viktor (Nighy) and his race consolidated their power. Viktor's daughter Sonja (Mitra) is a death dealer, a hunter tasked with ridding the world of the Lycans. She's also got a terrible secret - she's in love with Lucien (Sheen), the Lycan hybrid Viktor allowed to live and made his erstwhile son.

Lucien's loyalty is torn. His brothers are a race of slaves, mistreated and abused by the aristocratic vampires, but the vampires are also his family, Viktor the one who gave him a life outside slavery.

When his and Sonja's affair is discovered, all bets are off - Viktor has him thrown in prison and virtually disowns his daughter. It's up to Lucien to whip the imprisoned Lycans into a revolt, lead the escape and regroup to attack the vampires' fortress.

Fans of the originals will enjoy the same tone, but it's much more a swords and sorcery movie than a vampire/werewolf one, little vampirism at all on show and the various werewolf effects fleeting, hard to see and mostly CGI.

It also comes on the cusp of Michael Sheen's rise into serious drama, and after The Queen and now Frost/Nixon, surely he won't be drawn back to popcorn fodder like this any more.

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