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Underworld: Awakening (2012) – Review

2 1/2 Stars


The fourth installment in the Underworld series finds the world of vampires and lycans encroached upon by humans. After discovering the existence of both inhuman species, mankind decides to hunt them down and obliterate them in what they call The Purge. Selene is captured and Michael’s whereabouts are unknown. She awakens (hence the title, which tells you how deep this movie’s gonna get) years later from a frozen state in a science lab. An unknown entity known as Subject 2 frees her and runs. Now Selene must adapt to this new world, and find Subject 2 if she is to locate her hybrid vampire and lycan lover Michael.

If I said more then I feel I might be giving too much away. This is a twisty plot, unfortunately it’s not a smart one. The humans are introduced and serve their function in the opening credit sequence, then they are almost immediately pulled from the proceedings. Hopes for a new plot going forward are dashed as Underworld: Awakening falls back into the same old vampire versus lycan routine. Gone is the interesting journey through the vampire world from the first and second films in the franchise. In its place is a lonely and far more savage walk across dark and ugly scenery.

Selene is far too aggressive here, killing at will and without mercy. She sheds her heroine and righteous ways from the first two films and is willing to slay even helpful humans. Granted they kept her in an icy prison for twelve years, but one thing this movie fails to do is create a connection between the audience and Selene’s anger, let alone any basic connection at all. She’s lost her love and twelve years of her life. This new world is far colder for her kind, yet we don’t slow down to see the affect of this on her. It’s an important beat that goes missing here.

This film is more gory than its predecessors, which is perfectly fine for me. It’s when the gore overpowers any emotional ties you want to have to the characters that we start to have problems. For instance, Michael’s hybrid form shows off the beauty, power and strength of both vampire and lycan coming together. But Subject 2, a hybrid as well, looks like a little girl straight out of an exorcist horror film when she changes form. It’s ugly to look at and kind of frightening. Am I really supposed to feel for someone who looks like the embodiment of hell spawn?

Naturally Kate Beckinsale kicks ass as Selene, and looks amazing doing it. Unfortunately Underworld: Awakening is an incredibly uninviting movie and lacks any of the warmth and excitement from Underworld or Underworld: Evolution. If they do go for a fifth, we need Len Wiseman back at the helm.

Director: Måns Mårlind, Björn Stein
Stars: Kate Beckinsale, Stephen Rea, India Eisley

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