Underworld: Awakening

Despite the fact that this is the fourth installment (third starring Kate Beckinsale) which usually means the quality goes down severely and against every intention I had going into it, I rather enjoyed this film. The story was rather simple but the action was pretty continuous with plenty of blood and guts flying about. Props to Beckinsale as she is pretty much the epitome of an English Rose, but she is believable as the ass kicking vampire Selene.  In other words, for her to make Selene tough and mean shows that the lady is not just another pretty face.

We start off right where the second film left off.  Selene (Kate Beckinsale – The Aviator, Click) and Michael (dunno who he is, but it is not Scott Speedman) are running from the authorities.  He gets shot several times and falls into the water.  Selene dives in after him and then the screen goes black.

When the film starts again it is twelve years later and Selene is being kept in a cryogenic state.  She is in an Antigen Lab and being studied by a group of scientists led by Dr. Jacob Lane (Stephen Rea – The Crying Game, The End of the Affair).  Suddenly something is going on inside the lab and she is able to break out of her container then leaving a trail of bodies escapes from the facility.  After discovering it is twelve years later and that humans have discovered the existence of vampires and lycans so are waging a war to eliminate the two species.  Selene is also having visions which she believes are what Michael is seeing.

To her surprise she discovers, after rescuing her from a pack of lycans, that the visions are from a 12-year-old girl named Eve (India Eisley – from television’s The Secret Life of the American Teenager).  Selene’s surprise goes even deeper when she finds out that Eve is actually her and Michael’s daughter.  Eve has been raised in the same Antigen Lab as Selene was held captive in.

Eve has never been outside before in her life and now she finds herself pursued by the lycans.  The lycans want this special hybrid child for her ability to pass on her ability not to be affected by silver. Selene, another vampire David (Theo James – You Will Meet a Tall Dark Stranger) and detective (human) Thomas (Michael Ealy – Seven Pounds, Think Like a Man) find themselves having to protect Eve from the lycans while avoiding getting killed by the humans hunting them.

Mans Marlind and Bjorn Stein (Shelter) have made a stylish and slick addition to the Underworld film series.  Kate and her shiny, sexy latex suit are back and take centre stage.  I wasn’t bothered too much by the fact that the story was really weak.  I think even Marlind and Stein were aware of that and push it to the background.  The action, CGI effects and Beckinsale are pushed to the front and the movie is all the better for it.  Lycans and Selene engage in fight after fight and the action is fast and furious.  Gritty, brutal, at close quarters…the whole kit and caboodle.

Just to be the devil’s advocate though (you knew this was coming right?) what really attracted me to the first two films was the story.  Yes, it was a summer type action film, but what made them better than your average film of this type was the depth, the emotions and the ideas behind the story.  The scripts gave Beckinsale the opportunity to kick butt and act.  There is not much of that here.  She barely talks in this one.  Just a lot of glaring looks.  Should fix that if there is a next time out.

Marlind & Stein and Beckinsale have breathed life into a series that was staggering a bit.  They have revived it just enough that I’m sure the studio and Underworld fans are begging for another.

 

Special Features:

-Previews of Ghost Rider: Spirit of Vengeance, The Woman in Black, Starship Troopers: Invasion, Resident Evil: Damnation, The Raid: Redemption, 21 Jump Street

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