Kate Beckinsale is back in the tight leather in Underworld: Awakening, the fourth entry in the R-rated vampire/werewolf series that Sony continues to breathe life into, much like the zombie series Resident Evil. Awakening is the most entertaining Underworld flick yet, with loads of cool action scenes, effective use of 3D and the return of one of the hottest women on the face of the Earth, Kate Beckinsale.
Vampire badass Selene (Kate Beckinsale) has woken up from a 12 year sleep. During her brief nap the world has discovered the Vampire and Lycan clans. Humans have begun a “cleansing” which has driven the vamps into hiding and the Lycans into near-extinction, or so we think. Selene now has a child and she must locate it before the humans or Lycans get her, because she is a very special hybrid creature, much like her father.
Underworld: Awakening plays out much like the other Underworld films, but this time in eye-popping 3D and with the focus placed on the action and not so much on the story, which is actually a good thing.
The Underworld films have always been kind of silly, but we’ve embraced them because they’re decent enough vampire movies, with a fair share of blood and gore. I’m always in the mood for an R-rated vampire movie and up until this point I’ve merely thought of the Underworld series as a poor man’s Resident Evil. I know zombies and vampires are two different things entirely, but Sony has treated both series with the same amount of respect.
Resident Evil has always been a little more mainstream and that’s mostly because of the wider appeal of zombies and the video game origins.
Awakening changes all of that and becomes the best Underworld film and a much better film than the last 3 Resident Evil entries. It tones down the story and beefs up the action. It never robs leading hottie Kate Beckinsale of any key screen time, instead it fully embraces her ass-kicking character traits and keeps her on the screen the entire time, throwing fancy gadgets or shooting big guns.
It very briefly halts for an injection of story, in which case the film becomes sort of laughable, but it never oversteps its boundaries. Just as quick as it stops, the film gets on its feet and continues to run, with a steady blood-flow following closely behind.
There’s not a lot of creativity in the film, but the action is filmed with a sleek design and lots and lots of decapitations and limb rips. Awakening earns its R and then some. Kate Beckinsale rocks the hell out of the leather outfit, keeping that image of sexy and deadly burned into our skulls forever, and I thank her for that.
Underworld: Awakening is the perfect example of a popcorn level flick, with enough action and gun-play to keep your mind entertained and never too much talking or story focus to make you question the stupid stuff.
Awakening follows typical Sony suit and comes to Blu-Ray looking flawless. There’s not a smudge of grain in this crystal clear transfer. It’s a darker film for sure, but blacks have never looked so silky and smooth before. Detail is ridiculously strong and for once the 3D actually adds to the enjoyment of the overall experience. There are a lot of scenes that are catered to the extra dimension, but even the subtle stuff like rain, smoke and sparks look really textured.
The 7.1 DTS-HD Master Audio track is one of the best tracks I’ve ever heard. The opening scene comes blasting from all channels, with detailed glass-shattering, gun-fire and musical cues and explosions. From that point just about everything is spread out around all of the channels. Even scenes when dialogue is strictly the focus, you’ll still hear distant chatter or activity coming from the rear channels. If you’re looking for a disc to really test your system out, especially something that can handle all 7.1 channels, then pop this disc in and enjoy the show.
Underworld: Awakening comes with the following bonus content:
- 2D & 3D versions of the film
- Filmmakers’ Commentary
- Selene Rises (HD)
- Casting the Future of Underworld (HD)
- Resuming the Action (HD)
- Building a Better Lycan (HD)
- Awakening a Franchise, Building a Better World (HD)
- Previsualization Sequences (HD)
- Blooper Reel (HD)
- Music Video (HD)
- Sony Previews (HD)
- UltraViolet Digital Copy
Underworld: Awakening is a really fun ride. Those worried about series fatigue will want to check Awakening out, because it really does revive the franchise and get it ready for future installments. If they keep focused on this same mindset then I’m more than willing to give my money to the series, because it finally has established a perfect balance of action and design. The story isn’t going to win you over, but Kate Beckinsale kicking complete ass for 2 hours is.
The Blu-Ray is another reference quality disc from Sony. It comes bundled with both 2D and 3D versions of the film, so you can experience it whichever way you’d like. I’d suggest the 3D, because it really enhances the experience. The special features are quick and somewhat interesting; the biggest surprise is the constant focus on making more films in the series. I’m glad to see the enthusiasm, but I wouldn’t count on these things making a ton of money forever.
Closing out the package is a digital copy of the film, which can be viewed on smartphones, tablets, computers and whatever else you have that connects to the internet and has streaming capabilities.
Underworld: Awakening is a highly satisfying experience that begs to be witnessed on Blu-Ray high definition. Pick this disc up for the action, excellent use of 3D and reference grade video and audio.