Underworld Awakening (2012)
Directors: Måns Mårlind, Björn Stein
Writers: Len Wiseman, John Hlavin, Allison Burnett, J. Michael Straczynski, Danny McBride, Kevin Grevioux
Cast: Kate Beckinsale, Michael Ealy, India Eisley, Stephen Rea, Sandrine Holt, Theo James, Charles Dance, Kris Holden-Reid, Jacob Blair, Adam Greydon Ried, Catlin Adams
Synopsis: When human forces discover the existence of the Vampire and Lycan clans, a war to eradicate both species commences. The vampire warrioress Selene leads the battle against humankind.
MPAA Rating: Rated R for strong violence and gore, and for some language
These aren't your Twilight vampires
For those yearning for a good old fashioned bloody death match between vampires and werewolves (aka Lycans), then look no further than the "Underworld" series. Granted, the story lines aren't always the best; especially in this film. However, if you just want to see vampires kicking a**, and taking names like the blood thirsty monsters you've might read about in folk lore, then this film will definitely quench your needs.
Not only is there a lot of gory violence, but some of the scenes are arguably some of the most graphic content you'll ever find in a vampire/werewolf film. In one part for example, a lycan gets half his face ripped off on screen, while in another scene, we see Selene stick her hand inside a guy's chest to squeeze his heart to revive him, when he was presumably thought to be dead. Now, if that doesn't tell you how graphic this movie can be, then I don't know what will. Therefore, if you're tired of seeing the non violent sparkly vegetarian vampires that have dominated the with big screen lately, then "Underworld Awakening" will certainly more than make for it.
In terms of action fantasy films, audiences will get what they paid for, as the action scenes are very well choreographed and shot. Unlike most films that tend to over use the slow motion bullet time effects, this movie seems to have a good balance with it, as it utilizes it just enough to get the audience hooked into the action, but never too much to where it feels borderline obsessive. In fact, I doubt seriously we'll find too many films that have better action scenes than this one.
Unfortunately, that's part of the problem with this movie as well. Although I do admire how well the action scenes were handled, the story leaves something to be desired, as it's clearly an after thought in this movie. No, if anything, the story serves as nothing more than an elaborate set up for the various action scenes; while offering little to no closure at all, as it conveniently leaves itself wide open for another sequel. Meaning, "Underworld Awakening" is nothing more than a teaser for the real story to come in the next movie. Granted, there are a few interesting plot twists introduced revolving around the lycans, but as I said earlier, most of this film is used as nothing more than a set up for the action scenes, and possible next movie; hence I wouldn't expect much of a plot from this movie.
As some people may know, the story essentially takes place several years later after the second film; where the humans have discovered the lycans and vampire clans, and try to wipe them off the face of the Earth. Now, I know some people might be thinking...does that mean they're going to team up against the humans? One would think that, but you'd be wrong to assume such a thing. No, the lycans and vampires are still enemies. Plus, to make matters more interesting, the lycans have begun to become even stronger than before, as they yearn to rid themselves of their petty weakness to silver. How do they plan to accomplish such a feat? I can't say, as you'll need to see the film to find out, but it does play an intricate part of the movie.
Anyway, to get back to the story, Selene (Kate Beckinsale) wakes up almost a decade later inside a military laboratory. Unaware of what happened to her and her boyfriend, Michael (a hybrid vampire and lycan), she manages to escape upon waking up, as she searches needlessly to find him. But as luck would have it, she ends up discovering that while she was asleep, the government managed to make her a daughter. Could this girl really be her daughter? Or is she some sort of clone? Who's to say? However, the only thing that is confirmed is that she's a hybrid vampire and lycan like her father; hence she immediately becomes a prime target for the lycans and humans to hunt.
Selene knows the value of this child immediately, as she vows to protect her by any means necessary. Although Selene's alleged daughter may not look like more than a frightened little girl, but she's actually stronger than most vampires and lycans; hence making her instant threat to anyone that crosses her path.
Although the story is mediocre at best in this film, as it serves mainly as a plot device to set up the action scenes, but it's definitely entertaining nonetheless. Like the "Expendables", it's just an all around fun action movie, with a subpar plot, that isn't meant to be taken seriously as anything more than a popcorn flick; which is essentially what "Underworld Awakening" happens to be.
As for Kate Beckinsale, I know she'll probably never be taken seriously as an actress for this role, but she's actually a lot better than most people give her credit for. Granted, there's a lot of limitations with her character throughout most of these films, but she always manages to shine through nonetheless.
As for the special effects, there pretty much what you'd expect from a movie like this. Granted, the CGI tends to be a bit shoddy during the lycan transformation scenes, but throughout most of the film, the CGI looks fairly well done. However, if you choose to see this in 3-D, then I should tell you that you'll only be wasting your money. Most of the movie takes place in the night time, which makes it next to impossible to see the 3-D cinematography to begin with; hence I'd probably wait to see this film on DVD/Blue Ray, as it's not worth seeing in theaters.
In the end, I'd have to give this movie a two and a half out of four. It's not a bad action movie per say, but it's certainly not the best out there. However, if you just want to see good old fashion gory as hell violence with vampires and lycans, then you'll definitely get what you paid for here, but I just wouldn't expect much of a story though.