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Underworld: Awakening

2012 | 88 min | R | 2.39:1

Underworld: Awakening


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User reviews

3 user reviews

Movie appeal




Theatrical release date

 20 January, 2012
 20 January, 2012

Country of origin

 United States

Technical aspects

3D (native, 88 minutes)
IMAX, 88 minutes

Box office




Overview Preview Cast & crew User reviews News Forum

Screenshots from Underworld: Awakening 3D Blu-ray

Underworld: Awakening Preview  

 / 10
Preview by Brian Orndorf, January 20, 2012

It’s been six years since star Kate Beckinsale donned the latex and corset for an “Underworld” adventure, with the producers taking a prequel route for 2009’s “Rise of the Lycans.” It’s good to have the pint-sized porcelain bruiser back in command of a sequel, and with her long-awaited return comes a blessedly simplified resuscitation of the franchise. “Underworld: Awakening” won’t win any awards for sophistication, but what it lacks in refinement it makes up for in wall-to-wall vampires vs. werewolves action. It’s a deafening joyride crammed with plenty of destruction, slowing the development of the plot’s laborious mythos. Stripping down the experience to zero in on mayhem, the producers have reignited the fun factor of the series, keeping the focus on exploitative elements instead of continuing to widen a wheezing brand name.

As the human race begins to repel the vampire and lycan infestation, death dealer Selene (Kate Beckinsale) is set to escape the obliteration with hybrid lover Michael (Scott Speedman doesn’t appear, replaced by body doubles and CGI magic), only to be thwarted and frozen by government goons. Waking up 12 years later in a lab, Selene discovers vampires and lycans have been driven into exile, with Dr. Jacob (Stephen Rea) preparing a serum that could radically reshape the longstanding war, using Selene’s daughter and all-powerful hybrid Eve (India Eisley) as his guinea pig. Claiming her child and escaping, Selene is confronted with a changed world, finding lycans scrounging for scraps, while vampires (including Charles Dance, struggling with his fake teeth) have retreated to the shadows. For fanged warrior David (Theo James), Selene’s return inspires revolutionary thoughts, following the snugly bodysuited one as she battles to protect Eve from Dr. Jacob’s macabre interests.

The time jump forward is necessary at this point in the story, with “Underworld” and the abysmal “Underworld: Evolution” anchoring the events to 2003, while the prequel dipped back hundreds of years into the past. “Underworld: Awakening” jolts the series back to life, revitalizing the ongoing narrative with a sorely needed reduction in backstory. Gone are the protracted explanations of vampire/lycan history and destiny, replaced with an exploratory mission, as Selene comes to grips with the downfall of her kind, amazed that humans could accomplish so much in so little time. “Awakening” isn’t burdened with an expansion of plot, forced to keep the story on an epic trajectory to satisfy a feverish mythmaking urge I suspect few fans truly care about. This installment is merely about catching up to the present and worrying about the future.

Directors Mans Marlind and Bjorn Stein (“Storm,” “Shelter”) appreciate genre requirements, and they execute a convincing monster mash with “Awakening.” While the screenwriting leaves much to be desired, the visual firepower of the picture is fantastic, finding the filmmaking team serving up a robust routine of gunfights and splattery encounters, while the lycan menace is sold with satisfactory visual effects, successfully integrated into stylish 3D cinematography that favors Beckinsale’s backside and slow-motion hero shots. It’s a terribly violent movie, and one that doesn’t take many breaks to assess the situation, instead charging straight into conflict after conflict, with the finest sequences pitting Selene against enormous lycan enforcers, flipping and slicing her way to victory. The idea is to keep the effort humming along with sensorial submersion, and “Awakening” is quite charming as a blunt cinematic instrument.

While I enjoyed the overheated swagger of “Rise of the Lycans,” it’s nice to have Beckinsale back in the lead role, brandishing massive guns and flying around the sets. “Awakening” makes good use of her implausible defense skills, keeping her suit shiny and her attacks slick with wirework and glares. It’s fun to watch her reclaim the series, only lacking a strong supporting cast to fill out the mayhem with some needed personality. The absence of Speedman is puzzling (what could he be possibly doing these days?), and the addition of Eve doesn’t exactly provide the emotional outlet the script is looking for. Still, a one-woman show is all “Underworld” needs to be at this point. Since Bill Nighy and Michael Sheen are gone, there’s really no reason to watch anyone but Beckinsale, preferably double-fisting handguns while executing a double axel over a snarling monster.

“Underworld: Awakening” isn’t fine art, but it retains a crunchy, smashmouth quality that provides proper escapism, reinstating forward momentum to a franchise that was close to permanent stasis. It’s a sequel that compliments parts one and three. If you enjoyed part two, we can’t be friends.

Starring: Kate Beckinsale, Michael Ealy, India Eisley, Stephen Rea, Charles Dance, Kris Holden-Ried
Directors: Måns Mårlind, Björn Stein

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