Tuesday, March 10, 2009

Underworld: Rise of the Lycans. Sleep inducing and boring.

There were two main reasons I stayed awake through this movie. The first was the realization that this is 100% CynicalReview material and that the creators of this piece of boredom must not get away with it. The second were the huge stripes of duct tape I had to apply to stick my eyelids to the forehead in order to keep them open. It was that bad. And I wouldn't compare it to a Uwe Boll movie because that would be doing Uwe Boll injustice.

I doubt anyone sane would say either of the first two movies in the franchise were some kind of masterpiece, but they were entertaining and spectacular. The third installment however is neither. It is the first attempt of Patrick Tatopoulos at full feature film and it's, in a nutshell, crap - which is a shame, he's got a long and impressive resume, mostly in the areas of creatures design, special effects and make-up, so one would expect from him to know his trade. Contrary to what would make sense, the Underworld prequel is notoriously bad in his areas of experience - lighting, make up, special effects, design. 

Let's start with the lighting. The previous parts had this crisp blue and white moonlight-like look that made their eery imagery so impressive. Obviously, an attempt has been made to achieve the same look here, but it's so overdone here that everything seems as if shot through a thick piece of bluish glass. However, that doesn't hide the cheap props - the whole castle has this unmistakingly styrofoamish appearance with no attention to detail whatsoever. Make-up? Yeah, there was a lot of it, the poor Bill Nighy looked like someone with severe eye infection with the purple smears under his eyes. Special effects? Yup. Scarcely used (probably for financial reasons) and bad CGI. Creatures design? There was a bunch of fellows strolling around in what seemed to me as leftover gorilla costumes from the 70s King Kong with werewolf heads attached.

Still, it takes more than a low budget to make a bad movie. There are plenty of independent and under funded good movies out there. But bad as it may be in Mr. Tatopoulos areas of expertise, the third 'Underworld' a complete disaster in those of his obvious inexpertise. There is a major plot problem with all the movies in the series - they all deal with the confrontation of two fantasy races, vampires and werewolves, both feeding on humans. The main difference lies in their preferences to chew top-down, starting with the neck, or bottom-up, starting accordingly with the ass. Well, I can only speak for myself here, but which one would you think I'd root for? Exactly, I don't give a fuck for either. So the previous movies had to rely on intense and clever action sequences and interesting (well, in comparison to this one) plot to keep the audience interested. The 'Rise of the Lycans' offers neither. The story is so predictable and boring I twisted my jaw yawning - moonlight-sensitive unkempt Romeo and goth-chick Juliet plus a rebellion against an oppressive tyranny. The inconsistencies with the mythos are huge and abundant (vampires using candles is just one example). But the few and short action scenes are where this movie leaves the plane of boredom and really hits bottom. Throughout the whole movie it was apparent that no one on the crew had been initiated in the long lost art of storyboarding - there are no transitions between the frames, angles change randomly, but in the fights this turns into a chaos. That is probably intended to hide the complete lack of choreography and further aggravated during editing. 

No one on the cast seemed to take their job seriously and I can't blame them with a script like that. I admire them for not laughing at their own lines, which vary from pompous to hands down cheesy - I know I would. Bill Nighy, an incredibly good actor, was reduced to sitting on a throne and goggling his contact lenses out. Oh, and he got most of the cheesy lines. Michael Sheen in turn delivered most of the comedy (unintentionally so, I'm afraid) with some ridiculous speeches in the veins of "This is Spartaaaa!". Rhona Mitra was in only as a stand-in for Kate Beckinsale minus the latter's black leather-clad butt and offering nothing to compensate (why the fuck else get a boob job?).

In theory the soundtrack should be pretty impressive with contributions from 'Puscifer', 'The Cure', 'Deftones' and many more, often remixed by Danny Lohner and Wes Borland. In reality the songs in the movie are cut and toned down beyond recognition, so no, nothing good in this movie. Get the soundtrack separately and use the movie as a sleeping pill.
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