Move over Twilight, once again your vampires pale in comparison (pun intended) to what a real vampire is. Ok, maybe that’s overstated a little bit. But as fans of the Underworld series will tell you, at least their Lycans and vampires go toe-to-toe in the most violent, gory way possible. It’s only been about three years since we last saw some good old fashioned warfare, but it’s still a relief to see Kate Beckinsale squeeze back into her black leather suit and kick some serious butt.
Underworld: Awakening starts off with humans finding out about the existence of both vampires and Lycans. They put into effect the Great Purge, a massacre of both races that nearly exterminates them all. While Selene (Kate Beckinsale) is trying to escape, she is captured and kept in a cryogenic facility for 12 years before being released by a mysterious “Subject 2″, a hybrid who she then attempts to track down.
Of course, while doing so she is being follow by what Lycans are left and the humans who first imprisoned her, including the creepy Dr. Jacob Lane (Stephen Rea) who has his own plans for her. Along the way, Selene finds allies in fellow vampires and Detective Sebastian (Michael Ealy), both of whom have dark pasts of their own.
While the plot doesn’t seem like much, it’s really only there for fans of the series. Even with the short recap that is given at the beginning of the film, only dedicated fans will be able to actually follow what is going on. For anyone looking to get into the Underworld series, this is definitely not the film to start with.
However, anybody looking for a great example of style over substance will be very pleased with Underworld: Awakening. Directors Mans Marlind and Bjorn Stein have an eye for unique style, especially the kind that the series has become notorious for. The dark, dank underbelly of the cities that most of the action takes place in is perfectly creepy and still well-lit enough to show all of the action. If seen in 3D, however, it can get a bit too dark and frenzied, making it harder to focus on the big action pieces.
As good as the action is, the story this time around is pretty week, even for those who are devoted to the series. It also doesn’t help that Beckinsale’s Selene is still a cold, violent shell who cares more about killing than about other people. To be fair, Beckinsale absolutely nails the icy demeanor that Selene is supposed to have, but at the same time, a little emotion wouldn’t hurt. All of the other supporting actors, including young India Eisley as Eve, the hybrid child, give decent performances. Nothing to write home about, but at least you won’t be laughing your way out of the theater.
Underworld: Awakening feels like it was just released to tell people that they plan on making at least two more of these movies. Of course the film ends with a cliffhanger, pretty much winking right in our faces and telling us “Hey! There’s like seven more of these bad boys coming your way!” I guess it’s not a bad thing if you’re that devoted of a fan, but even I would only be in for one more before wishing it would just wrap up.
So as stylish and flashy as the action is this time around, I can still only recommend Underworld: Awakening to diehard fans of the series. The story is slowly getting more and more ridiculous, and I’m afraid that we’ll see Underworld get run into the ground soon. But until that happens, fans are left with a pretty good addition to the canon, as the amount of pulse-pounding action set pieces are more than enough to make up for the lacking story and boring 3D.