Wednesday, March 9, 2011
A Little Late Film Review: Underworld: Rise of the Lycans
The problems with this film are abundant and prominent, and it could take a very long time to list them all, so I’ll try to keep this short. We’ll begin with the screenplay. I just know that the film’s screenwriters were very, very proud of themselves for writing this pretentious dreck. Just think Shakespeare if it were written by a drunken truck driver who never finished high school but remembers Romeo and Juliet and tried to recreate THAT. The screenplay includes some absurd colloquialisms that try to make it seem poetic, but just come off as laughable.
Another major problem is exceptionally bad direction of the film. This also includes the cinematography and art direction. Shots are poorly framed, unsteady and filled with unnecessary cuts between four or more cameras. The editing looks as though it was done through a Viewmaster. The actions scenes are incomprehensible, with bodies moving quickly in front of the camera passing as violence. There are also the constantly sweeping shots of landscapes. These would be great, if you could actually see them. The style of the film is blue filter, low-light and grim and boring sets. When you can actually see what’s going on the characters are shot in a way that makes them look like pale Smurfs because of the heavy blue in every single shot. The deep black doesn’t help. The actors are meant to be lit against the dark backdrop, which can work (I reference the works of Orson Wells), but the backdrops are opaque and ugly. All in all, this is a huge problem for a movie that thinks it’s pretty.
There’s also the horrendous CGI and practical effects that make up the Lycan. They are grimy, ugly and cheap looking as makeup, and resemble a video game character circa 1999 when animated. They wobble like blobs as they slide across the screen, meant to be cool looking but just coming off as cold and lifeless. One major problem with CGI in movies is that there has never been a film were you couldn't tell you’re looking at a poorly-rendered computer object. For a movie that tries to make these beasts seem intimidating and impressive, this issue is crippling.
Alas, there is the acting. It isn’t all bad. Certainly not the worst I’ve reviewed so far on this blog. Michael Sheen is one of my favorite actors working today and he isn’t bad, though he does seem a little out of place. He does what he can with the shoddy writing and direction. Character actor Bill Nighy is usually good, but here he is brooding and insipid. Then there's Rhona Mitra, who is just terrible here. She is emotionless (and don’t give me that crap that she’s supposed to be, that’s B.S.) and vapid. She comes off as a store clerk bored with the redundancy of her minimum wage job. As one of the leads, she really needs to be more likable, but alas, she isn’t. It’s hard to cheer for a character that doesn’t connect with the audience, let alone the other actors on screen.
In short, Underworld: Rise of the Lycans, is a silly, disreputable mess of a movie. It is so dank, so ugly, so poorly written and so overacted that it feels like it could almost reach so-bad-its-good status, but its just to impressed with itself to be an enjoyable experience in the way Bride of the Monster is. When I watch a film like Rise of the Lycans, I can’t shake the thought that the makers of this film created the movie more for their own entertainment, rather than ours. It is also very boring for an action film, moving far too slow. It’s an 88 minute film stretched out to 2 hours (Thanks to roughly 40 minutes of unbearable filler), and it feels like it lasts an eternity.
Posted by Chris McElfresh at 12:21 PM