Cert: 18 Runtime: 88 mins Director: Måns Mårlind & Björn Stein Cast: Kate Beckinsale, Stephen Rea,Michael Ealy, Theo James, India Eisley and Kris-Holden Reid
Well after this weeks warm up of Underworld as my blast from the past, I have been to see Underworld: Awakening 3D. This looks like the start of a new trilogy and man it didn’t disappoint.Selene (Kate Beckinsale) is back in her familiar gargoyle perch surveying the dark city around her. Unlike Underworld: Evolution, which picked up right where the original left off, Awakening jumps forward a bit to a time when human beings are now hunting both vampires and lycans. These purges are wiping out both species with ruthless effectiveness and extinction may be close at hand. Selene and her hybrid (both vampire and lycan) boyfriend Michael are both wrapped up in it and then comes the big flash forward.Selene wakes up 12 years later from a block of ice after being thawed out in a maximum security laboratory. It seems she has been studied, poked, prodded, and subjected most likely to everything in between by its chief scientist Dr. Jacob Lane (Stephen Rea) who says he is looking for a cure for both vampire and lycan afflictions. A pre-teen girl known as Subject 2 (India Eisley) is responsible for her release and becomes the catalyst for the chase sequences in this Underworld iteration between vampires, lycans, and humans.
Essentially, we’re here for the action scenes, which serve both as the main material as well as the glue that holds it together. In what is probably the most action-packed and gory iteration in this series, “Underworld”: “Awakening” certainly doesn’t have many boring moments. There’s no substance to the plot or characters, but if you’re watching the fourth “Underworld” film, chances are you don’t care about that kind of thing. You’re here to see Kate Beckinsale in a tight leather catsuit running around, doing flips off walls, shooting at anything that moves, and doing it all with a blue tinge. You get that with “Awakening.”Initially, I couldn’t quite put my finger on why I still didn’t have a great time with this film. It did most of the things it needed to right, and was overall quite exciting. But it lacked substance, and I don’t just mean in its story and characters. Even at its worst point (“Evolution”), the “Underworld” series has always maintained some depth to the world that the characters inhabit. An entire back story was mapped out, and we understood the history of both supernatural clans. “Awakening” seems dedicated to both ruining and ignoring all of that previous work.
Here is a film that’s premise involves the destruction of the majority of both species’ members. Presumably, artifacts and historical documents were also destroyed, rendering much of the back story unknown to the survivors. Those who do know, like a man named Thomas (Charles Dance), have no proof of it and have no need to bring it up. The world is no longer an “Underworld” one; instead, it’s just a generic action movie with vampires and werewolves. All of the work that went into the crafting of this universe is destroyed with “Awakening.” It almost seemed like directors Måns Mårlind and Björn Stein went with this story just so that they didn’t have to include any depth, even if that depth is what made “Underworld,” well, “Underworld.”Maybe I’m overthinking things. Like I said, you’re watching “Underworld: Awakening” to see Kate Beckinsale in a bunch of physics-defying action scenes while dressed in her character’s signature leather outfit. You get that here. The action scenes are slick and well-made, the lycans look better than they ever have before, and the ending sequence, involving at least three distinct battles, is satisfactory, even if the ending as a whole promises much more than it delivers. I did have a good time, even if this installment completely ignores all of the history and back story of its universe. This is a movie for the “Underworld” fans. If you’re one of them, you’ll have a good time here. Newcomers will want to start at the beginning. If you aren’t a fan, this one has less depth and more action than earlier iterations, so make your decision accordingly. 7.5/10