3 October 2009 | unbrokenmetal
More than animals
"Rise of the Lycans", on the surface, makes a perfectly well working prequel. The loss of Kate Beckinsale and Scott Speedman is compensated by a great Rhona Mitra and especially Michael Sheen's titanic effort. The look and the action are amazing, considering the somewhat lower budget, and the story makes sense to prepare us all for the things to come in the other two movies. All in all, the trilogy is round now and does not disappoint in any department, unless you are taking everything a bit too literally and wonder how werewolves can make babies.
It is interesting, however, to peek below the surface. The makers mentioned in interviews they see similarities to "Romeo & Juliet" insofar as Lucien and Sonja are lovers not allowed to get together. One crucial difference, however, is that Romeo and Juliet came from two noble families, whereas in "Rise of the Lyans", Sonja is a member of the aristocratic pale vampire rulers, who are sipping glasses of blood on the castle, while Lucien is with the ugly, hairy slaves, the werewolves exploited as cheap labor force. We don't really get to see what this work consists of except carrying stones around. Also the love story isn't explained enough in the running time of not much more than 80 minutes PAL until the credits start to roll. But the point is that "Rise of the Lycans" is a hardly disguised class struggle story. Similar to the Italian socialist cinema of the 1960s which would show the rebellion of poor farmers against the rich property owners, the working class has to realise their value (in Lucien's words: "we are more than animals") and claim their human rights. When Lucien says "this is just the beginning", it may seem to the audience that he jokingly refers to other other two movies which have shown us already how the story continues after this prequel. In the subtext, though, he is making a very serious statement that freedom is the foundation of a life worth living, and everything else will be built up now upon this basic condition. It's a pity that the movie doesn't elaborate more on that and doesn't spend some additional time on the character development, either, because it could have been the best of the trilogy. Alas, I voted almost equally 8-7-7 for the three movies.