Underworld: Awakening Review
The Underworld movies have never really been what you would call high cinema. While they’ve never been necessarily great they’ve been tolerable, giving some alright action, some pretty alright practical effects and Kate Beckinsale in a skin tight leather suit. So there’s that. Underworld: Awakening follows in that same tradition minus the alright action.
Set 12 after whenever the hell the second movie ended, humans have discovered the existence of vampires and werewolves and have started hunting them down and exterminating them. After being captured by the humans, Selene is broken out of their facility by her hybrid daughter and she sets off on a quest to save her daughter and her species from being wiped out.
The story and acting in this movie are the story and acting you have come to expect from an Underworld movie. That is, not great. The story at some points felt like it was trying to set up some kind of mystery about either the true identity of Selene’s daughter or whether or not Scott Speedman’s character was still alive or some bullshit, such as when Charles Dance’s character confronts Subject 2 (because that is all she is called in this movie) and says, “I know what you are.” Of course you fucking know what she is, we all do. But when he said that I started thinking that maybe she was some kind of genetic experiment designed by the humans to wipe out all non-humans and it would to big “emotional and dramatic” scene with Selene and end with Subject 2 dead. But no, they say she’s Selene’s daughter and she is Selene’s daughter.
The acting, as I said above, is also not great. All the actors just seem kind of bored with the whole thing. Everyone who is either a vampire or werewolf, even the ones who are actually English, have terrible English accents. They all just sound tired and like they really don’t want to be there. While on the subject of non-humans characters, there is one kind of weird thing. One of the werewolves is played by Kristen Holden-Ried. The weird thing is that he also plays a werewolf on the Showcase show Lost Girl. I know it is not that weird, but I kind of think it is. Can someone be typecast as a werewolf? He wasn’t even one of the practical effects monstrosities. His werewolfiness was entirely CG. Again, it’s probably not that weird but I think it kind of is.
Since I just mentioned it let’s talk about the effects. The werewolves are, like they were in the previous movies, some really good practical effects. There is something to be said about a dude in a costume. All the regularly sized werewolves at one point or another are dudes and costumes and they look pretty awesome. What is not so awesome are when the werewolves are CG constructs of their better practical counterparts. There is one particular part near the end that is just terrible looking. It looks like something from an updated version of Reboot. But the worst continual effect is Subject 2’s change to her hybrid form. It’s almost nothing. She just turns light blue. She is is set up to be this unstoppable badass of a non-human who is more powerful than anyone who came before her and she looks like she played for too long outside in a Canadian winter.
The Underworld movies are supposed to be action movies and for what it’s worth the action in Awakening isn’t all bad. Some of the fight scenes are actually pretty awesome. The first fight Selene has with the wolf Tank and the final fight scene, while weakened a little bit by the dodgy CG, are the highlights for me. If nothing else it’s fun to see Kate Beckinsale punished for her terrible acting by being repeatedly thrown into stone walls and it’s funny to see a frozen looking child ripping someone’s throat out. But a lot of the other action scenes are just kind of bland. They feature Matrix ripoff style moves (and wardrobe, now that I think about it) and Beckinsale could not look more uncomfortable holding guns. And honestly, it could not have been the least bit comfortable fighting in that skin tight leather suit. Just one kick and that suit would get all up in there.
Underworld: Awakening is not a great movie by any stretch of the imagination. The acting is pretty much terrible across the board, the CG is janky as fuck and the story is just as fucked. But there is some alright action and practical effects. I would not go out of my way to see this movie, but if there is nothing else to do and you stumble across one night while channel (or internet) surfing you could definitely do worse. Not a lot worse, but still worse. Just don’t watch it more than once. Then it goes from tolerable to just plain shit.
Final Score: 2/5