Rise of the Lycans

Dir: Patrick Tatopoulos
Star: Michael Sheen, Bill Nighy, Rhona Mitra, Kevin Grevioux

We took a long while to even bother with this, having been sadly disappointed with Evolution. While this abandons the laudably gynocentric approach to action, seen especially in the original, it stands up pretty well on its own merits, with Sheen very good, and basically unrecognisable as the guy previously best known for playing Tony Blair. The leap from there to a werewolf ass-kicker is...well, now you come to mention it, maybe not so great. Nighy is his usual, reliable self as vampire leader Victor, sporting some great contact lenses which give the impression that he's permanently annoyed about something. Then again, so does everything else about him. We've mistaken Mitra for Beckinsale before [most obviously the trailer for Doomsday]; she's clearly #1 in the field of Beckinsale-alikes (or -aLycans, hohoho), though doesn't get nearly as much to do here. It's Vampire Victor vs. Werewolf Lucian (Sheen). who starts as a servant of the vampires, but rebels when he is punished for assuming wolf form, in order to save Sonja (Mitre), Victor's daughter - with whom he is having a cross-species affair, to her father's disapproval.

If not exactly covering much new territory - a good deal of what we see here was shown in flashback previously - the film succeeded in winning me, with its enthusiastic approach to the action, and reluctance to let much else get in the way. Tatopoulos, a veteran creature creator, is making his directing debut here, and it does show in the obvious and loving affection shown for some flashy CGI sequences. Probably wise to shift focus off Mitra, onto the male leads, though post-Shaun, it is difficult to think of Victor as terribly different from Philip, possessing much the same grumpiness of tone. We almost expected him to start chasing Lucian round the garden with a bit of wood. I've read a good few complaints about it being too dark: can't say this was an issue, though we were watching it in HD, and I dread to think what it'd have looked like on VHS (remember those?). I went in expecting to be entirely underwhelmed, yet the enthusiastic approach to the material and a couple of solid lead performances won me over. While I'm sure there's another like/Lycan pun in here somehere, I'll spare you that, so will just describe this as hair-enough entertainment, and that's the tooth.

[November 2009]

I ran it under a cold tap...
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