Underworld: Awakening

Well I’ve just come back from Underworld: Awakening and I really couldn’t resist the opportunity for me to be topical so I’ll give you some of my thoughts on the film since it’s still fresh in my mind.

When it comes to franchises in any capacity the fourth one can be an eye rolling affair. A lot of times in horror, the fourth edition into any entry can be totally overlooked by common moviegoers only to end up in a five dollar bin with people scratching their heads saying “oh wow they made a fourth one of this?”

Underworld has always been one of these mainstream action-horrors that I really enjoyed for various reasons. This one however leaves me conflicted.

The film starts off with a little recap of the precious movies to give the casual viewer a chance to get an idea of the franchise they are stepping in to. It helps but like the previous three movies Underworld: Awakening is tightly related to the previous ones and is a little less accessible to people who haven’t at least seen the first two.

It seems humans have found out about Vampire’s and Lycans and they aren’t too happy about it. The monsters that are usually the hunters are now pushed to the brink of extinction. Where does that leave the super-vampire hero Celina and her Were-pire lover Michael? Well no place good and in an attempt to go into hiding they are ambushed.

We then jump twelve years later into a world where vampires and Lycans are on the brink of extinction. An evil corporation called Antigen is working on the final cure to make sure they can never spread their infection again.  Selene (Kate Beckinsale) wakes up in a cryo-box and fights her way out all the while looking for Michael. She thinks she’s on his trail but it turns out to be a young girl named Eve (India Eisley) who is a lab grown clone of both her and her mate. (Essentially a little girl were-pire.)

Okay, so my problems with this movie basically start and end with the films run-time. 88 minutes. That is some editing tighter than Beckinsale’s pants and it’s officially the shortest of the series. Every problem the film has could have easily been fixed with another 20 minutes. There was a lot of movie in that short run-time and it didn’t help.

I'm not X-23. Did I mention that yet? No? Okay, well i'm not.

Another problem was the fact that they had four writers on the picture which compounded by the run-time made a lot of scenes that were intended to maybe set up plot later on go nowhere. A part that really sticks out is a part where one of the few remaining vampire elders named Thomas (Charles Dance) seems to be trying to, apologize to Eve for previously making her feel unwelcome, it was played as if he might try to use her but then it seems to be forgotten in the very next scene when he wants her gone again.

Characters didn’t have enough time to really develop either. This is bad for established characters like Selene because she isn’t given enough moments but it’s especially bad for all of the new characters this movie introduces.  For example Michael Ealy plays a Detective named Sebastian who randomly helps out Selene is given about two minutes to try and give his motivations, while they are on their way to the next scene.

Another complaint comes as a comic book fan. Eve’s origin story is Marvel comics X-23’s (Wolverine’s cloned daughter) origin story. Everything from growing up in a lab to having a project scientist be like a surrogate mother to cutting herself and watching her heal.

My last small comment is Bill Nighy was sorely missed. The way that guy hammed it up in the previous three movies was one of the biggest draws for me. And I mean that sincerely, it was awesome.

Now for what I liked. The action is amazing. I don’t think the 3D really added anything except to the ticket price although, I was a little startled by some glass flying at my face. All of the chorography was just fantastic. Selene has never been more of a badass. She is a cold blooded killer that has been pushed to the edge and has no problem taking out anybody in her quest to find Michael and protect her newfound daughter.

There are some awesome kills that are benefited from this being an R-rated movie. It’s funny how refreshing it can be to see a vampire or werewolf actually act like monsters instead of heartthrobs.

Looking back on this review I realize the things I am saying could be considered being “picky” I think it comes from the fact that I wanted to like this movie as much as I liked the previous ones and while the action didn’t disappoint me at all I just really wish they had given the movie a chance with a longer runtime.

For anyone sitting on the fence about this one, I say if you go into it looking for a kick-ass action movie or as a longtime fan of the series you’ll probably like it enough.  For everyone else though the cost of movies these days and the fact that it’s so short (and feels short) really makes it hard to justify. Maybe the DVD will have all the extended scenes the film sorely needs.

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