Underworld: Awakening is the fourth movie in this Vampire vs Werewolf, sorry Lycan, franchise. Over the last nine years, the Underworld series has made over $191,000,000 of pure PROFIT, and that’s just money that they made while in theaters, that doesn’t factor DVD sales, licensing rights, or any other types of revenue. Despite being panned by critics, there is just something so appealing to fans that has them always coming back to the theater to watch Vampires in skin-tight leather outfits fight against shape shifters that just so happen to take on the appearances of wolves.
This being the fourth movie in the Underworld series, and with myself being a fan of supernatural creatures being portrayed in modern times, I have of course watched all of the previous entries in the franchise. I think it’s important that you know where I stand with the movies as a whole, so that you can know what biases I had coming into Awakening. The short and sweet version of the story? I have hated the previous movies. I always felt like the story was terrible, and the way the movies were shot made everything far too dark so that I couldn’t see what was happening on screen. I liked how Vampires were treated, making them these politicians and tricksters, but I hated how the Lycans physically looked, and the fact that they always came across as trying to be as smart as the Vampires, but coming across as bumbling dolts.
Suffice to say, I have been fairly down on the entire franchise as of late. So why did I decide to review this movie, even though I may have been biased? It’s because while I have not liked the series before, I have still seen all of the other movies so at least I know what is happening. Not to mention that as a World of Darkness RPG player, which Underworld borrows heavily from, I really believe that the entire set of movies have tons of potential. If they just got a few things right, the quality of the movies could really be something. So I ventured out to go see Awakening in the latest IMAX 3D way and just hoped for something that was decent.
Awakening has a tiny prologue at the beginning of the movie that tries to bring you up to speed if you haven’t seen any Underworld movie before. The basic gist is all there. Vampires and the Werewolves known as Lycans, have been fighting for centuries. This fight continues into modern days, and our main character Selene (Kate Beckinsale) is charged as a Death Dealer who’s sole job is to kill Lycans. She does this job for hundreds of years until she meets up with Michael (Scott Speedmen) who is a decedent of the very first Lycan. The Lycans do some crazy science to him and make him into a Vampire & Lycan hybrid. Advantages of both races, success! From there pretty standard fare. Selene falls in love with Michael, he with her, and they defy both races and try and run away. Awakening picks up after the much maligned Underworld: Evolution and the twist now is that the Humans now know that Vampires and Werewolves exist. How do they react? By killing the supernaturals, aiming to purge society of their blighted existence … and they are very successful. This part of the movie is actually interesting and it something that I wish they spent more time on.
Selene and Michael attempt to escape the human execution squads, but unlikely for them, they are captured and placed into a cryogenic sleep. We pick up the action twelve years later when Selene escapes after being set free by her newly introduced daughter Eve, who is ALSO a Vampire / Lycan hybrid. From there, Selene and Eve are on the run from a new breed of Lycans that are attempting to grow stronger and replenish their dwindling numbers, while Vampires simply attempt to stay quiet and avoid notice from the human race. The story painted seems pretty bleak, but compared to the other Underworld movies that got really complicated for no reason, there is something really nice about going back to a much simpler premise.
No information is given into how Eve is born, after all her parents are a big wolf and an undead corpse, but none the less they throw her in there. Michael is mentioned throughout this film, but after the first initial scene, we don’t see him at all. This is in addition to the fact that Scott Speedmen took a look at the script and refused to be apart of the movie. Whoever plays Michael for the 1 minute he is on screen, is someone that LOOKS like Speedmen. It’s curious that the story writers would think to keep that character in the works, considering that it would be much easier to just kill off the character outright, but whatever not my call. This entire movie is Kate Beckingsale’s show and she does exactly what you would want her to do. She looks sexy in corset, leather trench coat, knee high boots, and kicks everyone’s ass throughout the entire film. It’s not complicated or sophisticated, but she’s still really good at it.
The movie still feels like Underworld. There are some action sequences that are similar to ones that were seen in previous movies, the entire film is tinted in that familiar blue hue, and the Lycans still look underwhelming. That being said though, the 3D is used effectively, they introduce a new type of Lycan that looks a lot better than previous wolves in the series, the human element and subplot is interesting, and there are scenes dealing with the Vampires trying to battle with their desire for more power with their basic instinct to survive. There are good parts to be had here, but they just aren’t executed in the best possible ways.
I have already stated that I disliked the previous Underworld films. Yet as I watched Awakening, sure there were parts that I didn’t like, but I felt like they did a pretty good job overall. Awakening won’t win any awards, but it is a flat out fun, action adventure movie. If you liked previous entries in the series, you’ll like this. If you disliked the other movies that Underworld had to offer, you may still feel the same, but the potential for the series definitely shines through in this entry and makes you feel like they are getting closer to finally making a GREAT Underworld movie.
[easyreview title=”Underworld Awakening” cat1title=”Final Score” cat1detail=”The movie has plenty of plot holes and bad writing, but the action gets pretty good deeper into the movie. It’s a quick, fun, gorey romp that uses 3D effectively and entertains for fans and non-fans alike.” cat1rating=”3″ overall=”false” icon=”star2″]