Underworld: Awakening. I’ve been a fan of the Underworld series since the beginning. It’s always been one of my dream “What if” scenarios, involving vampires in a war against werewolves. If the Twilight films were injected with a dose of testosterone, we’d have Underworld. And I loved it. This is the fourth film in the franchise, following up their prequel effort, Rise of the Lycans. Kate Beckinsale is back but she’s the only familiar face.
After the first 5 minutes, the rest of the film takes place 12 years in the future. The human race has discovered that vampires and werewolves exist and have made them endangered species. We’re caught up to speed fairly quickly. Selene (Beckinsale) wakes up in a lab and escapes, trying to figure out who released her, where her werewolf/vampire hybrid lover Michael has gone, and basically trying to figure out what the hell is going on. She soon meets her genetic offspring, a girl named Eve, who was created using both Selene’s and Michael’s DNA (aka, she is a hybrid of werewolf and vampire).
What works? This is a fun movie. I’m going to undoubtedly compare it to Haywire (review) since both star women who kick ass and have short old-school Rihanna-like haircuts (you know, that lopsided short hair look that was trendy a few years back). Anyways, Underworld: Awakening wins in my book.
The difference is that Haywire was content with being subpar. At least Awakening attempted to do unique battle sequences, change up their formula, and Kate Beckinsale clearly has the upper hand over Gina “Crush” Carano.
Selene is more vicious in this movie than I remember her being. It’s a gruesome and gritty film where she takes all of her rage out on the people that locked her up for 12 years. There are some incredibly unique and innovative moves used here. The downside is that the effects are often a little sketchy and look out of place. Maybe Beckinsale asked for a huge paycheck and they had to let a few visual artists go. The fights were way cool but the effects sometimes took me out.
The creature effects are a little subpar but the action scenes are still pretty incredible. And the frequency and scope make up for most flaws. There were very few lulls in the action and that’s exactly what we want from a movie like this.
What doesn’t work?
This movie suffers from what I (and probably others) call the Resident Evil syndrome. Resident Evil began as a series about a disease that turned people into zombies. And with each film, they get progressively crazier. Underworld began as a story of vampires versus werewolves. Michael was a hybrid and had a few scenes where he got to kick some ass. In Underworld Evolution, they introduced the oldest vampires and the oldest werewolves, who were even more vicious. And now, in Underworld: Awakening, we are treated to some crazy new versions. Since it’s set in the future, let’s just say that science plays a role in modifying our favorite villains. It feels a little forced and (as I said above) the effects can’t always keep up.
There’s also a part of me that has a hard time rooting for vampires and werewolves in this war against humans. The movie didn’t really give us many human characters to hate so I didn’t feel inclined to root for Selene as she was slaughtering a whole city of police officers. Vampires and werewolves kill humans for sport. Why would an audience sympathize with them? Just my gut reaction.
Overall… You know you want a movie where you can just enjoy some mayhem. Underworld: Awakening won’t disappoint you. It’s not going to win any awards but for the price of a matinee, I didn’t mind. It at least tried to do some new things and I appreciate the effort, although it didn’t always pay off. If you know what you enjoy and you’re up for some blood-soaked action scenes and completely implausible fiction, this movie will do the trick.