By: Lawrence Foster
Rating: 7 out of 10
One of the rules I have is to not read anyone else’s take on a movie. Another one is to watch movies at appropriate times (i.e. horror movies at night, comedies when the theater will be at least a quarter full, etc.)
Unfortunately, I had to recently break one of my movie commandments when I watched “Underworld: Awakening” — I watched a movie from a series when I hadn’t watched the previous ones.
My series rule is in place to avoid what I call the “Harry Potter” problem. For a fan of the written and/or film series, Harry Potter is magical (yeah I just did that). I can pop in any of the movies at any time and enjoy it. That doesn’t work for people who know nothing about the franchise.
Well, I had watched the original “Underworld” (U:A) once, more than six years ago and never got around to watching any of the other films. I had no intention of watching “Underworld: Awakening” either, but my editor from reel2reality.com asked me to watch it, so I had to break a rule.
Lucky for me I did. “Underworld: Awakening” delivers Matrix-style action, plenty of gore and Kate Beckinsale in all of her gothy-sexiness. By the end of the film, I had found out that breaking the rules can be fun.
One of the brilliant things U:A did was right at the beginning of the movie; they helped alleviate my fears of being lost due to my lack of knowledge of previous events in the Underworld universe. The leading lady, Selene (Beckinsale), starts the movie by going over the events of previous “Underworlds.” While recapping previous installments is more of a TV tool, upcoming movies should take a page from U:A and spend a minute or two going over what has happened in the past.
After the introduction, we find out that humans have discovered the existence of vampires and lycans and are attempting to eradicate them. Because of the unified human race, Selene and her lover Michael (who is sadly not played by Scott Speedman) decide to go into hiding. Unfortunately, for the Romeo and Juliet-esque couple, their plan doesn’t work and they are both captured and frozen.
After the botched escape, we see flashes of something moving and find out that Selene is having visions. The visions are obviously from someone else and that wakes Selene up from what we discover to be a 12-year hybernation.
Upon her escape, Selene attempts to track down the person she is having visions through, assuming it is Michael. Instead of finding her love, Selene discovers a child named Eve (India Eisley). The girl isn’t just any girl, however. She is the offspring of Selene and Michael and has inherited her father’s condition of being both a vampire and a lycan. Because of Eve’s ability, the lycans are after her, trying to use her DNA to bring their race back from the brink of extinction.
With help from fellow vampire David (Theo James), Selene and Eve are able to escape and head to a vampire colony that is run by David’s father Thomas (Chase Dance).
This is where one of my problems with U:A rears its head. While I have only watched the original and this movie, I do vividly remember the performance of Bill Nighy as a vampire elder. It was a role built for Nighy. For obvious reasons, though, Nighy couldn’t have a roll in U:A. Instead, directors Mans Marlind and Bjorn Stein tried to push Dance on the audience. Nighy’s character worked because he fit perfectly and stole every scene he was in. Dance on the other hand, has nothing to work with. They tried to pidgeon-hole him into a role and there is no possible way he could replicate what Nighy had done.
I feel better now. Anyway, Thomas is not happy with David that he brought a death dealer (Selene) and a hybrid into his lair because of the danger they represent. Once he said that, it was evident that the lycans would indeed find the vampire hideout.
The lycans come in force to take Eve and, despite the best efforts of Selene, David and others, they succeed, thanks to Thomas.
The rest of the film involves Selene’s quest to save her daughter, with the help of Detective Sebastian (Michael Ealy) and involves some pretty brutal and equally awesome action scenes.
Detractors of the “Underworld” series say that it is a poor mans “Matrix.” If you ask me, U:A’s action sequences top that of the Keanu Reeves-led “Matrix” trilogy. The reason being, anything involving vampires and werewolves is better. It’s just a fact.
Overall, “Underworld: Awakening” is a film for that noobs and veteran’s alike can enjoy. It has over-the-top action, gore that earns it its R rating and a war between vampires and werewolves. Whether you are new to the franchise or have been around since the beginning, “Underworld: Awakening” is worth your time and money.