You’d think that after 3 movies, the Underworld franchise would go to pot. After all, there’s only so much you can do with vampires, werewolves, and their perennial war in the shadows.
And then suddenly, humans come along, and you realize that hey, they’re really trying their damnedest to milk the franchise.
Now, don’t get me wrong.
I appreciate Underworld’s latest iteration Awakening for all it’s juicy bits – the fluid choreography, the intense sequences, the gorgeous Kate Beckinsale as Death Dealer Selene – but like it’s earlier installments, this film remains mired in hackneyed World of Darkness tropes and a water-thin plot that only just manages to pass muster.
With the elders all but dead and all order crumbling, vampires and werewolves alike are hard pressed to fight against a new enemy – the humans they’ve herded and victimized for centuries.
The public has discovered the presence of the “Infected”, and their reaction is anything but friendly.
Selene and her hybrid beau Michael (played by a faceless extra this time) are caught in the resultant purges, and when the huntress wakes up from her cryogenic sleep, more than a decade had passed.
Breaking out from the medical facility where she’s held, she discovers that it’s a different world out there, that her erstwhile beau is dead, and that her only link to the past is Subject 2, the daughter she’d somehow conceived during her twelve-year torpor.
And get this, that’s just the setup. The next half of the story has, predictably, Selene doing what she does best – dealing death with twin guns blazing as she embarks on a quest for some answers.
Plot aside, the show manages to plod credibly forward thanks to Beckinsale’s powerful performance. It’s a shame Scott Speedman (who played Michael Corvin in Underworld 1 & 2) had to give this one a miss though.
Directors Måns Mårlind and Björn Stein have to be commended for their aesthetic choices in the creation of this film. Awakening was decidedly gorier, darker, and more in keeping with the genre than it’s previous incarnations, and hopefully, that’s something we can expect in Underworld 5 (coming soon to a theater near you).
The way Selene tears through Antigen guards during her escape in the initial half of the show was bloody brilliant (pardon the pun), and it only gets better as the show progresses.
Ultimately, Awakening’s not all that bad if you watch it for what it is – a supernatural action thriller – and leave the grey matter at the door.
Old-school fangboys will also appreciate the fact that vampires and werewolves in this movie can actually kick-ass and kill stuff, and that’s always better than just looking pretty and sparkling in the sun, no?