Friday, January 23, 2009

Yes We Lycan

Once again, as a service to the planet, I must do Movies I Haven't Seen. I had meant to perform this unenviable task on this particular movie a couple weeks ago but it slipped my mind till today. I prefer to do this weeks in advance of a film's release but now, since it premieres today, I fear I may be too late to keep people from seeing it and have their brains leap out of their heads in protest. I'm talking, of course, about Underworld: Rise of the Lycans. I admitted yesterday that the Underworld movies were guilty pleasures of mine. This new one, I'm wildly guessing, won't be. Let's all watch the trailer.

So, what have we learned? First off, people back in the Dark Ages posed a lot and communicated mostly through pompous monologues and dramatic shouts. Other than that, it's hard to tell what the hell is going on. I sort of remember from the first two movies that you had a war between Vampires and Werewolves who, of course, can't just be called Werewolves in these movies because that's what everyone on the planet calls them so calling them Werewolves here would make too much sense. In the Underworld films, they're called Lycans. Even if you've seen Underworld more than once, the plot will probably come as a complete surprise to you. You have a better chance of remembering porn plots than you do the plot of Underworld and its sequel since they both seemed to be intentionally incoherent. Except for the action scenes, they both look like the actors were just making the whole thing up as they went along. To give a quick recap: it was revealed in the first movie that the Lycan King, Lucian, was once the loyal servant of the Vampire King, Viktor. (Allow me to give a quick thanks to IMDB for helping me remember those names. Remembering the names of these characters yourself is a waste of valuable brain cells and is as pointless as remembering the name of a prostitute.) In an extended flashback, we see that Lucian fell in love with Viktor's daughter, Sonja, so Viktor decided to try to take the Worst Father Ever Award away from Lindsay Lohan's dad by having Sonja executed as punishment. Because Viktor is as bad a jailer as he is a parent, Lucian manages to escape fairly easily and launch a centuries long war between his people and the Vampires.

So, ok, since we know all that already, what the hell is this movie going to be about? Basically, Rise of the Lycans is going all Star Wars 1-3 on us. Yeah, we know the story, but not the WHOLE story so we're getting that now even though I can't recall ever having heard anyone say, "Hey, damn it, I want the details of this Lycan revolt. Did they organize it through MySpace? Did they fund it with paper drives and flea markets and pancake breakfasts? Did Bob Hope perform for the troops? Underworld didn't tell us any of that so I demand a prequel devoted to nothing but pointless background information."

As the trailer opens, we see Rhona Mitra playing Sonja (THE ONE WHO DIES and no, this is not a spoiler since you discover it in the first movie) and taking over the "heavily armed eye candy" role from Kate Beckinsale who, along with the mildly entertaining action scenes, was the reason to watch the first two movies. After beating up on some Lycans by tossing some spinning Lycan killing things at them, she returns to get lectured by her father about how they have to all be loyal and stuff, a lecture that will get thrown out the window later on when he kills her. Sonja is apparently a major league badass although the only evidence of this that we see consists of her riding around and staring at things. Lucian and Sonja meet and the combination of greasy hair, shirtless leather vest and unbearable body odor must have been irresistible since she decides that she's never had it so good and abandons everything she's ever known in order to have sex with Lucian in the mud.

They get caught and Lucian gets thrown in Vampire jail where he gets to overact, give one of those inspirational Braveheart speeches and tell his troops that they, the ones who sprout fur and grow claws, are not animals.

As with all cheap action flicks, we now reach the point in the trailer where no shot lasts longer than three seconds and we're bombarded with quick cuts of people running around, leaping in the air, knocking stuff over and screaming things like, "NOOOOOOO!" while beating their chests before you get to the point where the title comes up and you say, "Yay, it's over," only to have one final confrontation scene.

There's no hope for this movie, folks. None. The trailer is Exhibit A. Exhibit B is the fact that it was not made available for critic's screenings ahead of its release date which means that its studio, Screen Gems, the company that allowed crap like Prom Night and Untraceable to have critic's screenings, decided to pull the trigger here and hold this one back. There's only one reason for doing this and it's never, "We felt it was so awesome that we want it to be a surprise."

Anyway, this post will most likely have no difference on the movie's box office. Wouldn't it be great if it did? If movie studios learned to fear me and tried to be spared from my wrath by offering me huge bags of money and sex with Scarlett Johannson? But no, I'm cursed with a realistic worldview that does not allow me to think that anyone will be skipping Underworld this week. I will, however, get to say, "Told you so," in a really snotty and arrogant tone and that's just as good as vast wealth and violating Scarlett's every orifice.

Yep, totally just as good.

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