Remember the movie U.S. Marshals? That was the movie that starred all the secondary characters from its progenitor, The Fugitive. What U.S. Marshals did not have was Fugitive star Harrison Ford. More successfully than U.S. Marshals, Underworld: Rise of the Lycans (U:RotL) did accomplish what it set out to do. It kept the franchise alive without its former star Kate Beckinsale.
Beckinsale is definitely a hard act to follow. The new female lead is cut from similar cloth. Rhona Mitra is fit, pretty, and talks with a British accent. (Check, check, and check.) She does not fill Beckinsale’s shoes, but rather she fills a different pair of shoes that are just a little smaller. Rhona Mitra has some lovely and distinct features. I first really noticed her in the mostly forgettable Doomsday. She made quite an impression with her action prowess, attitude, and posing.
Unfortunately she got to spread her wings more in Doomsday than she did in U:RotL where she spends most of her time playing second fiddle to franchise mainstays Lucian and Vicktor. Perhaps it was the limited range she was called upon to perform. She was underutilized, and her one smile accounted for 50% of the film’s number. While creepy slow moving historical pieces about vampires and werewolves are not known for their levity, the limited emotional range got a little old.
They set about to create a mood and did it unwaveringly, even to the film’s detriment. The palette is consistently monochromatic, the lighting gloomily dark, and rain has always seemed to just have left its mark. I know, what do you expect from such a piece. But can there be dark without light? Is not the contrast what we perceive? U:RotL needed more contrast.
The action scenes were okay. The decent choreography was not featured. Either this was a mistake or the choreography was really not that good and this made its perception better. The movie was not too gory, or rather the gore I saw made me snicker a couple times rather than cringe. Not because it was bad but just because you knew it was an effect. The CGI werewolves were adequate. With enough shots, there will always be a few that are just a little off. But overall the production values were good.
U:RotL is not a bad movie, but it did leave me a unfulfilled (and it is a downer). It needed a little more plot to go to a few more places. It could have been performed well on Broadway with 5 rotating sets. The ending will leave you saying, “Huh, doesn’t he know that won’t kill him?” That is the way of the prequel, you know some characters cannot die, even if they sort-of seem to.