Rating: 2 stars out of 5
The Buzz: “Underworld: Awakening” is the first film in the franchise to shoot in 3D.
The Stars: Kate Beckinsale, Michael Ealy, Theo James, Kris Holden-Reid, Charles Dance and India Eisley
The Story: Selene (Beckinsale) awakens 12 years in the future after being held captive in stasis, only to find that the tables have turned on the world stage. Now, it is humans who are the hunters, while vampires and their enemies, the lycans (werewolves) are the prey.
inSing.com thinks: When we last left vampire Death Dealer Selene and her hybrid lover, Michael (Scott Speedman), at the end of “Underworld: Evolution”, they had successfully defeated both the sole remaining vampire elder Marcus, and his werewolf brother William, and Selene had acquired new powers, including the ability to walk in daylight. With both leaders dead, the 'underworld' is thrown into disaray by the pair's actions.
You can probably forget about all that when you head off to catch “Underworld: Awakening”. Neither a sequel, prequel nor reboot (we think this is rather odd), “Awakening” feels more like the first episode of an ‘Underworld” TV spinoff.
12 years have passed since the events of the second film and Selene wakes up from her cryogenic nap and escapes into a world where the human race has virtually eradicated both vampires and lycans. As she tries to discover what she missed all these years, she finds out that she’s not the only one that escaped the facility and that she’s a mom of a hybrid child (Eve, acted by India Eisley) who could change the course of the lycan/vampire war forever.
They met a hunky male vampire David (Theo James) who brought them back to his coven which is headed by his father, Thomas (Charles Dance, "Game of Thrones") who is one of the last surviving vampire elders.
Selene then finds herself in an endless series of violent battles with both humans and Lycans. Along the way, they also bump into a cop (Michael Ealy) who tries to help.
This is where the movie loses steam and goes off tangent. Underworld has always been more of an action movie than a vampire movie of course, and there's nothing wrong with that. But “Underworld: Awakening” takes that idea almost too far and in the process abandons most of whatever identity the franchise might have had to begin with. Directors Måns Mårlind and Björn Stein seem to forget that old adage, "If it ain't broke, don't fix it.”
The main reason why these films were called “Underworld” was that there is a different world right under our noses and with humanity none the wiser. With “Awakening”, the filmmakers took that premise and drove a stake through its heart. They didn’t even bother expanding on the vampire/lycan ‘Purge’ and instead relegated that bit into a quick prelude montage.
Also on inSing: The 'Underworld' Series: A Retrospective
Also, there is almost no character, narrative, or thematic arcs. A lot of the scenes are so slow that they add nothing to the overall story. There are a few twists along the way but the weak plot is just there to guide you to the final and expected battle. The final brawl with a monstrous lycan foe feels like it’s ripped straight out of a video game, with Selene battling the final boss.
This is the first of the films to be done in 3D, but considering the stark colour palette, and the general darkness throughout, nothing much pops out.
The best part of the movie
But there’s no denying the film’s bravura moments. Kate Beckinsale shines again as the tight leather catsuit/corset wearing vampire (possibly the best part of the film was seeing a near-nude Beckinsale). Seeing her shoot, slice and dice lycans like a stone cold killer and living up to her ‘Death Dealer’ name revives our faith in the vampire movie genre.
Gore fans certainly have something to look forward to in “Awakening.” Mårlind and Stein have upped the gore factor significantly so you can expect to see Lycan heads prised apart and vampire throats ripped out at regular intervals; and blood-soaked walls at the end of the final brawl.
If you’re a fan that fell in love with the “Underworld” franchise for its awesome vampire/werewolves mythology, don’t waste your time or money, because your interest will only be rewarded with utter disappointment. But if you like the films for what they are (mindless, escapist fun), you’ll probably get a bit of enjoyment out of this one.