Underworld: Rise of the Lycans

There is always a cause for concern whenever a star and director depart a popular franchise.  The possibility that the next sequel will suffer from their absence increases as the production team scramble to cover the loss.  A good way to overcome this has been utilising the growing trend towards prequels, where the same characters can be portrayed by younger actors.  Where some continuations have been absolute shockers, Underworld: Rise of the Lycans reasonably keeps its head above water with the third entry successfully maintaining the series’ darkly gothic style.
The centuries old war between the Lycan werewolves and Vampiric Death Dealers finally reveal its genesis.  After saving Lucian (Michael Sheen) during infancy, this human/wolf hybrid gives evil vampire king Viktor (Bill Nighy) an idea.  Using the child as a basis for a bloodthirsty wolf army, he sees his chance to fully control his dark realm.  Seeing the needless slavery and slaughter of his kind, the now grown Lucians’s leadership qualities emerge with as much ferocity as his hatred for Viktor.  Helped by the king’s rebellious daughter Sonja (Rhona Mitra), Lucian aims to set free his brethren and rise against their ghoulish masters.
Although usual heroine Kate Beckinsale is sorely missed, the frenetic visual panache offered still packs a punch.  This is mostly due to series’ editor Patrick Tatopoulos whose promotion to director ensures the pacing and story remains consistent.  The almost Shakespearean tragedy awaiting Viktor as he deals with his daughter and his deceitful underlings adds texture to Nighy’s villain.  Working well opposite fellow English actor Sheen, the two make the most of their strong roles, with Sheen able to convey his character’s reluctance in proclaiming his heroic mantle.
A reason why the film isn’t quite as good as its predecessors is due to its rather simple script.  Where the first films had a very complex back-story, the screenplay here suffers in comparison.  Latching onto an ongoing chase/capture formula, events tend to get a little monotonous before picking up for a suitably bloodthirsty finale.  The sensory visuals are of a high standard, although cleverly the eternal night the characters live in also provides an ample excuse to hide any shoddy special effects work!   
Certainly the least of the trilogy, Underworld 3 isn’t as bad as it could have been.  Adding plenty of relevant information to its mythology, this entry has several excitingly staged sequences and decent acting to warrant attention.
Rating out of 10:  6 

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