Friday, February 6, 2009

Underworld: Rise of the Lycans

The movie was dark. I mean, literally dark. It reminded me of Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban in terms of over-all ambiance. I have not seen any of the first two installments so I was virtually clueless as to what this film was all about. On the contrary, I think I understood it pretty well since it is a prequel anyway.

I do not have to summarize this. It is your perpetual Marxist story. In fact, they could have entitled it: Capitalism According to Marx: Vampires and Werewolves Version. You have the oppressors and the exploited. The exploited gains class consciousness. The wannabe leader shouts, We can be slaves. Or we can be Lycans! Yahoo! Go Sparta! They stage a revolt. You do not have to be a rocket scientist to know how it ends.

You could actually guess the gist of the story (If you have not seen either of the other two or the trailer) from the poster. It says Rise of the Lycans but instead, an old camwhore of a vampire is shown seated on his throne as if proudly defecating. Where is the justice in that, huh? Oppression! The Lycans do not even get to appear on the poster.

I was confused at first as to the identity of the actress who played Sonja. In an alternate reality, I would have thought she was Melanie Marquez speaking English coherently. And then I figured it must be Liv Tyler trying to resurrect her career. And then I realized it must be Kate Beckinsale after all in another role! Nah, none of the above. I do not know her, period.

I think what I was more concerned about is the version of vampire they had here. Would it be Anne Rice's romantic blood sucking vampire allergic to the sun? Or Stephanie Meyer's Sweet Valley High over-powdered vampire? Well, Bill Nighy did not blood suck anyone. Oops, he did bite the daughter but it was more like a disciplinary action. Remember when your dad used to lash you with his belt buckle? Well, it appears vampire dads like to bite their kids' necks. Weird. And then there was a scene when he was drinking what appeared to be tomato juice. Or perhaps it was a Bloody Mary. He was in fact allergic to the sun and seemed to have superhuman strength. And then add Blade's fighting skills. I think the vampire here was a sort of hybrid. They created their own version, sort of.

As for the werewolves, they are really not as interesting as the vampires. I have not seen Blood and Chocolate yet so my only point of comparison would be Professor Moody who reverts to his wolf form when the moon is full. The full moon was given no significance in this film though. There is indeed one scene with a full moon when the Lycan transformed but it was no different from the other times when he did. And he could transform at will when he took off his collar.

In a way, the storyline reminded me of Battle Realms, except that the Lotus clan of warlocks was replaced by a clan of Gothic vampires. The story is similar, from the singular hero who initiated a revolt all the way to the ending. In terms of make-up, the close-up shots of werewolves here reminded me of Regal Shocker. It must have been the way they moved which to me looked artificial and very puppet-like.

What piqued my interest was Kate Beckinsale's very short cameo at the end. Now it is certain that I would be watching two Kate Beckinsale DVD movies during the weekend, and no, it is not going to be Pearl Harbor or Van Helsing. Interesting.

I recommend it to anyone in search for a dark movie with cool but but only a handful fight scenes, vampires who speak British English (one of them spoke Cockney or Aussie but her total screen time was less than three minutes,) and plain weirdness like copulating on the edge of a cliff or perhaps I should just use different kind of thrill.

Someone please explain the ending to me. I got lost there. Why was blank blank alive and where were they going? Field trip? Excursion? Retreat in Antipolo?

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