By: Bryan Montgomery
Rating: 4.5 out of 10
This series should have stayed dead, now what few fans are left are only around. Unfortunately, those that remain are left to watch the garbage that is the Underworld series. After an entertaining and structured initial two installments, the Underworld series has gone in a complete free-fall, only further proven by the newest installment, Underworld:Awakening, a loud, dumb attempt at re-vitalizing a dead franchise and making a few dollars along the way.
After being put in hibernation during a future where humans have inserted themselves into the war between Vampires and Lycans, Selene (Kate Beckinsale) awakens learning of the disastrous results for the Vampire race. Selene soon learns of the existence of a hybrid child that has major ramifications on the war, and rushes to save her before the humans or the Lycans have the chance to destroy her.
What made the first two Underworld films work is the fact that escalating stakes were woven throughout the film, culminating within the carefully-constructed action sequences, as the leaders of the vampire cult were the ones causing the mischief and Selene encountered inner turmoil to save the day. This new spin-off of the old series fails to register on any level whatsoever.
In the opening of the film, the idea that humans have now declared war against the vampires proves to be interesting, but soon after that plot line is discarded in favor of the classic vampire vs. Lycan match up that everyone is used to see. What results from this is a series of immediately forgettable villains and a poor plot that serves simply as an excuse to get to action scene after action scene.
But it is hard to ignore how gorgeous the action scenes are. Although they are lifeless and nothing but show, the action in the film is top-notch, keeping the pedal to the metal throughout the film. Arguably the best scene in the movie is a huge fight between an underground clan of vampires and invading Lycans. Unfortunately, even the fighting loses its luster by the end of the movie, as the climactic battle is little more than a whimper, erasing a potentially great sub-plot about a gigantic Lycan to show shots of Selene getting the crap beaten out of her before turning the tables on the beast. The primary antagonist proves to be a small challenge as well, that scene was building up to be so great but ends with little excitement.
Kate Beckinsale does the best she can in her stunted leading role, working without any of the supporting characters from the first two installments. Although Michael, Scott Speedman’s character is included early on in the film, he is replaced by a CGI character that is only there to stir memories of the famed hybrid. There is not much here to work with and as a result Beckinsale falls victim to the blue-screen conundrum that is Underworld:Awakening, rendering a lifeless performance while even considering the lifeless role that she is playing.
The major plot line revolving the female hybrid also drops the ball. Viewers will learn the semi-twist midway through the story, of which the film could have based itself off of and tries hard to add heart to the movie but it simply does not happen. Any feeling that could be created from this game-changing revelation is quickly dropped and lost by the end of the film.
Underworld:Awakening seems to be more a 3D cash cow than anything else. I was a huge fan of the first film and thought that with a little care and dedication, this series could have a long shelf life and revitalize the vampire genre. Underworld: Rise of the Lycans kept the narrative of the first two films, explaining the back story while not distancing itself too much from the main plot lines. It was a welcome distraction but opened the door for the next big thing, which did not happen in this film. Further distorted by a poor script and lifeless characters, Underworld:Awakening ends up being a disappointing and possible series-derailing installment that could have been more, just chose not to be.