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Patrick Tatopoulos
Rhona Mitra, Michael Sheen, Bill Nighy
Writing Credits:
Danny McBride, Dirk Blackman, Howard McCain

An origin story centered on the centuries-old feud between the race of aristocratic vampires and their onetime slaves, the Lycans.

Box Office:
$35 million.
Opening Weekend
$20,828,511 on 2942 screens.
Domestic Gross:

Rated R.

Aspect Ratio: 2.39:1
English Dolby TrueHD 5.1
French Dolby TrueHD 5.1
Spanish Dolby 5.1
Portuguese Dolby 5.1
Supplements Subtitles:

Runtime: 92 min.
Price: $14.99
Release Date: 5/12/2009

• Audio Commentary with Director Patrick Tatopoulos, Series Creator Len Wiseman, Executive Producer James McQuaide & Producers Richard Wright and Gary Lucchesi
• Picture-in-Picture Feature
• Interactive Map
• “From Script to Screen” Featurette
• “The Origin of the Feud” Featurette
• “Recreating the Dark Ages” Featurette
• Previews
• Music Video


-LG OLED65C6P 65-Inch 4K Ultra HD Smart OLED TV
-Marantz SR7010 9.2 Channel Full 4K Ultra HD AV Surround Receiver
-Panasonic DMP-BD60K Blu-Ray Player
-Chane A2.4 Speakers
-SVS SB12-NSD 12" 400-watt Sealed Box Subwoofer


Underworld: Rise of the Lycans [Blu-Ray] (2009)

Reviewed by Colin Jacobson (November 1, 2021)

Although both 2003’s Underworld and 2006’s Underworld: Evolution focused on the modern-day adventures of kick-ass vampire warrior Selene, she plays no real role in 2009’s Underworld: Rise of the Lycans. Instead, we go into the past for an origin tale of sorts.

Set in the Dark Ages, vampires use werewolves – or “Lycans” – as slaves. This starts to change when an intelligent Lycan named Lucian (Michael Sheen) emerges.

Smarter than his peers, Lucian launches an uprising against vampire leader Viktor (Bill Nighy). To complicate matters, Lucian becomes romantically involved with Sonja (Rhona Mitra), a bloodsucker who just happens to be Viktor’s daughter.

In some ways, Rise represents a pretty substantial shift from the first two movies. We lose our lead characters – Selene and vampire/Lycan hybrid Michael – as well as Len Wiseman, the director of those flicks.

In his place comes Patrick Tatopoulos. Best known for creature design and effects work, Rise represented his first foray as feature director – and last to date.

Nothing on display in Rise makes me mourn the fact that Tatopoulos couldn’t find more gigs as director, but I can’t fault his work either. Though Tatopoulos fails to demonstrate great skill in this capacity, he manages a competent turn.

At the very least, Tatopoulos makes Rise more coherent than its scattered and unfocused predecessors. Whereas those seemed all over the place, Rise manages a pretty clear narrative that goes down logical paths

Well-worn paths, I should add, as Rise demonstrates obvious inspirations from outside sources. Lucian’s tale gives off a heavy Moses vibe, and we get some Romeo and Juliet as well.

Perhaps if I didn’t watch Rise right after I saw the semi-plot-free Underworld and Evolution, I’d mind the “borrowing” more. However, I just feel so relieved to finally get a movie with actual story and character development that I find I can forgive the lack of originality.

Rise also benefits from an emphasis on Nighy and Sheen, both of whom seem unusually talented for this sort of flick. Of course, we found both in the prior films as well, but they get a lot more to do here, and they help add some substance to the material.

As for Mitra, she seems like a lackluster substitute for Kate Beckinsale. Make no mistake: Sonja exists as an echo of Selene, which feels like a mistake.

Mitra bears a more than slight resemblance to Beckinsale, so I think Rise should’ve cast someone who looks less like her to better differentiate the two. Mitra lacks Beckinsale’s acting chops, and she becomes a weakness here.

Still, the strengths of the remaining cast compensate, as does the movie’s narrative orientation. At no point does Rise become an objectively good movie, but it works better than its predecessors and becomes a decent mix of drama and action.

The Disc Grades: Picture B/ Audio B+/ Bonus B

Underworld: Rise of the Lycans appears in an aspect ratio of approximately 2.39:1 on this Blu-ray Disc. Expect a good but not great presentation.

For the most part, sharpness seemed satisfying. However, occasional instances of mild softness arose, and those created small distractions at times.

Neither moiré effects nor jagged edges cropped up here, and I saw no edge haloes. Print flaws remained absent.

Just like the first two movies, Rise went with a heavily blue palette. Within those constraints, the hues seemed well-reproduced.

Blacks were pretty deep and dense, while shadows appeared mostly smooth. This turned into a pleasing image, even if it didn’t dazzle.

Expect sonic material in the same vein as the first two movies via Rise’s Dolby TrueHD 5.1 soundtrack. That became a positive, as this film continued the trend of engaging audio.

With plenty of action on display, all the channels received a good workout. Music demonstrated appealing presence, while effects manifested from logical spots and blended together nicely as well.

Audio quality satisfied, with speech that appeared concise and natural. Music seemed full and lush as well.

Effects boasted solid clarity and accuracy, with fine low-end along the way. This turned into a more than satisfactory soundtrack.

As we head to extras, we open with an audio commentary from director Patrick Tatopoulos, series creator Len Wiseman, executive producer James McQuaide and producers Richard Wright and Gary Lucchesi. All five sit together for this running, screen-specific look at sets and locations, photography, stunts, music and audio, various effects, cast and performances.

This becomes a decent but unexceptional track. While we get a reasonable overview of the production, the commentary feels a little flat and never quite kicks into gear. Still, it offers enough data to merit a listen from fans.

Behind the Castle Walls provides a picture-in-picture feature. It mixes shots from the set, production art and interview moments from Tatopoulos, Wiseman, Lucchesei, Wright, producer Tom Rosenberg, cinematography Ross Emery, co-producer/actor Kevin Grevioux, and actors Michael Sheen, Bill Nighy, Rhona Mitra and Steven Mackintosh.

“Walls” covers prequel issues as well as story/characters, cast and performances, photography, sets, effects, and costumes.

“Walls” gives us a decent complement to the commentary, though like that track, it never seems particularly engaging. It brings some good perspectives but lacks much to make it especially engrossing.

With Lycanthropes Around the World, we find an interactive map. It allows us to select various spots in North America, Europe and Asia to learn about werewolf lore in those different domains. The text notes offer decent information.

Three featurettes follow, and From Script to Screen runs nine minutes, 18 seconds. It offers notes from Wright, Tatopoulos, Wiseman, Lucchesi and Rosenberg.

As expected, “Screen” looks at story/characters and screenwriting challenges related to a strike as well as Tatopoulos’s take on the material, locations, costumes and effects. Much of this repeats from the commentary and picture-in-picture so don’t expect much fresh information.

The Origin of the Feud goes for 19 minutes, 58 seconds and includes comments from Wright, Tatopoulos, Rosenberg, Lucchesi, Wiseman, Sheen, Mitra, Grevioux, Mackintosh and Nighy.

“Feud” examines story elements connected to the series’ mythology. Again, this becomes semi-redundant due to the other programs, so we don’t get many new insights. Indeed, some of the footage literally repeats from the picture-in-picture.

Finally, Recreating the Dark Ages lasts 13 minutes, one second and offers info from Tatopoulos and production designer Dan Hennah. They cover set/production/creature design in this informative little show.

A music video for “Deathclub” by William Control Featuring Matt Skiba offers a traditional – and forgettable – mix of movie clips and lip-synch footage. The song fizzles as well.

The disc opens with ads for The International, The Skycrawlers, and The Da Vinci Code. Previews adds promos for , Resident Evil: Degeneration, Fired Up!, Underworld, Underworld: Evolution, Resident Evil: Extinction, Passengers (2008) and Quarantine. No trailer for Rise appears here.

For the franchise’s third movie, Underworld: Rise of the Lycans offers a prequel. While not an especially good film, it seems more coherent and story-based than its predecessors, so it becomes moderately more satisfying. The Blu-ray boasts good picture, strong audio and a nice mix of bonus materials. Though it never excels, Rise at least betters the first two Underworld movies.

Viewer Film Ratings: 3 Stars Number of Votes: 3
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