Underworld: Rise of the Lycans

Movie review by
James Rocchi, Common Sense Media
Underworld: Rise of the Lycans Movie Poster Image
Vampire vs. werewolf prequel is heavy on gore, low on fun.
  • R
  • 2009
  • 92 minutes

Parents say

age 13+
Based on 1 review

Kids say

age 12+
Based on 11 reviews

A lot or a little?

The parents' guide to what's in this movie.

Positive Messages

No particularly positive/deep messages here. A forbidden, wrong-side-of-the-supernatural-tracks romance is discussed at great length. Discussions of infanticide. A vampire calls a servant werewolf "a credit to your race."

Positive Role Models & Representations

No particularly positive role models either. The vampire aristocrats keep the werewolves in their midst chained as slaves, and there's extensive discussion of their feudal-like system of protection and patronage.

Violence

Constant, graphic, and gory supernatural violence, including people being cut in half, ripped apart, decapitated, struck by medieval siege weapons (giant crossbow bolts, rocks), stabbed, struck, punched, and kicked. Extensive fantastic hand-to-hand combat, as well as swordplay and neck-biting. Lots of blood, either spilled in combat or drunk as a fact of vampire life. Grisly scenes of characters being lashed as punishment. Vampires are vaporized/immolated by the sun's rays. A character is stabbed through the mouth with a sword, with the protruding blade shown through the back of their skull.

Sex

Some kissing; a sex scene between consensual adult supernatural beings shields full nudity from the eyes of the audience yet leaves little to the imagination.

Language

No actual swear words; the clashing characters instead spit supernatural names -- "vampire," "lycan" (the saga's name for werewolves) -- at each other like epithets.

Consumerism
Drinking, Drugs & Smoking

None, although blood is drunk in extensive amounts.

What parents need to know

Parents need to know that teens might be clamoring to see Underworld: Rise of the Lycans after the success of Underworld and Underworld: Evolution -- not to mention the increased interest in all things vampire thanks to Twilight -- but this is no angsty teen love story. It's an all-out class war between vampires and werewolves, and it's loaded with extreme special-effects violence (from decapitations to being cut in half) and oceans of blood. There's also a sex scene in which little is left to the imagination, but it's more comical than explicit.

User Reviews

  • Parents say
  • Kids say
Parent of a 18+, 18+, 18+, and 18+ year old Written byrusty ol timer July 12, 2009
People need to know that this "Underworld" serves as a Prequel to the first two, and in that, it does more clearly define the rise of the Lycans and... Continue reading
Kid, 11 years old March 6, 2009

not the worst in the series but close

this a close call between this one and underworld evolution this dark gory violent yet good film underworld fans go see it please
Teen, 16 years old Written byZeeZombie February 22, 2009

Great

This movie is great. It has a story that leads into a very strong issue that should be investigated by kids. Unless you are into slavery then fine don't le... Continue reading

What's the story?

Set long before the events in Underworld, UNDERWORLD: RISE OF THE LYCANS establishes the vampires vs. werewolves clash of the saga's plot. It depicts both the creation of the first intelligent werewolf, Lucian (Michael Sheen), born into bondage at the hands of the vampire ruler Viktor (Bill Nighy), and his secret passion for Viktor's daughter, Sonja (Rhona Mitra). When Viktor discovers their love, he's furious -- and, with the imprisoned Lucian leading a revolt of his fellow werewolf slaves, facing other problems as well. ...

Is it any good?

This "threequel" features much of the same campy blood-drinking, neck-biting Romeo-and-Juliet Gothic romanticism of the first two films. But it lacks the goofy pleasures of their monsters-in-our-modern-world setting. Sheen (who's far from the prestige of films like The Queen and Frost/Nixon here) makes for an adequate male lead -- haunted, heroic, hairy, and hunky -- while Mitra evokes some of the pouting hauteur that Kate Beckinsale brought to the earlier films. But Underworld: Rise of the Lycans never quite has the guts or glory to be much more than what it is: a bloody-but-bland cash-grab of a prequel made on the cheap in the name of a quick buck.

Talk to your kids about ...

  • Families can talk about whether on-screen violence is less problematic when it depicts supernatural beings fighting, rather than regular people, as is the case in Underworld: Rise of the Lycans. What about when the supernatural beings look human? What's the impact of watching this kind of violence?

  • Families can also discuss the movie's slaves-versus-rulers plotline -- how does the film's central conflict parallel race differences?

  • Why do you think Hollywood likes making prequels and sequels to popular franchises? Is it just to make money?

Movie details

For kids who love action and horror

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