Underworld: Awakening (2012)

DVD Cover (Sony Home Entertainment)
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Overall Rating 63%
Overall Rating
Ranked #1,024
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Connections: Underworld

When human forces discover the existence of the Vampire and Lycan clans, a war to eradicate both species commences. The vampire warrior Selene leads the battle against humankind. --IMDb
Review by Crispy
Added: February 01, 2012
The Underworld franchise has always had its fair share of detractors, but personally I've always loved it. Still, I was a little worried about Awakening. After all, we're already on the second sequel, and one of the main stars decided not to return. Fortunately, it was able to beat the odds and keep the fans happy.

It's been six months since Selene and Michael won their deadly battle against the brothers Corvinus, and in that short bit of time, the world has been turned upside down. You see, humans have learned of the supernatural factions, and openly waged war on both, treating the whole thing as an infection to be stamped out. Still, our heroes are no ordinary couple, what with Selene being a vampire that's been supercharged by the blood of the pure immortal, Alex Corvinus, and Michael being a vampire/lycan hybrid, and the pair's enemies are easily dispatched. Still, they realize all too well that they can't expect to fight forever, so they prepare their escape. An escape that goes horribly wrong unfortunately, as Michael takes an RPG to the chest, knocking him into the bay. Selene dives in to save him, only to be overtaken by the grenade tossed in after her. FLASH and Selene wakes up naked in a glass pod. After breaking out and finding her usual attire nearby, she leaves a bloody trail out of the lab and into a new and unfamiliar world. See, she's been frozen for twelve years; Michael is dead, lycans are extinct, and the handful of remaining vampires are Anne Franking it up in small covens hidden throughout the country. To make matters even more confusing, she keeps getting visions of someone else's point of view. Someone on the run, very frightened and very violent. Someone who might just provide Selene with a new reason to keep fighting. A good thing too, since the lab that had her imprisoned is hot on her trail, along with a mysterious new lycan, one twice the usual monsters' size.

OK, yes, this is definitely the shallowest entry in the franchise, but again, it's part three. What did anyone expect? The people in charge knew that their original plotline had run their course, and coupled with series star Scott Speedman declining to return, it was obvious they had to make a drastic change, and I think they pulled it off quite well. Unlike some franchises that try and squeeze every ounce of blood by squeezing the same stone, Underworld took the alternate route of setting Selene down a whole new path that, as of this moment, can literally go anywhere they want it to. While it sets up the future of the franchise beautifully, it does leave Awakening serving merely as a transitional piece. There's no true villain, and we just spend the running time establishing her new world and allies. Still, the execution solves any problems there could have been. In other words, they slammed in plenty of blood and action to fill in the gaps. Sure, we're usually used to seeing more plot in the ratio, but that doesn't take away any of the fun found here.

With Speedman out of the picture, Beckinsale had to hold the movie up on her own, which she does quite well; meaning she still looks good in tight, black leather. As usual, she's not going to bring home any awards, either Oscar or Raspberry. Likewise, Theo James, Micheal Ealy and India Eisley all have supporting roles as various allies, and they don't earn any complaints either. As the closest thing to villains we have, Stephen Rea and Kris Holden-Ried also got the job done decently enough, although it was hard to take Holden-Ried as a truly threatening character.

Normally, I don't like going into spoiler territory, but there's one piece, a minor spoiler, that I'd really like to touch on. The mysterious visions Selene has been seeing that she mistakes for Michael is actually from her twelve-year old daughter, Eve. I'm sure a lot of people found this pretty cheesy, but I thought it actually added a lot of weight to Selene's side of the story. Sure, twelve years is relatively nothing to the six-hundred year old vampire, but it's more than enough when you consider she's been dumped into an absolutely foreign world where her beloved is dead. By giving her a daughter, by extension giving her back a piece of Michael, it's the anchor she needs to maintain her grip and keep on fighting. And as an added bonus, I really like the look they gave her. Being a 3-to-1 vampire/lycan hybrid, she does transform, but only barely. Essentially she maintains her human appearance, but takes on a ferocious visage and claws; her eyes a mix of vampire-blue iris on top of lycan-black sclera. Not to mention the fact that she's a viscous little bitch. In my opinion, they toed that ratio line perfectly.

Thus far, Underworld's got a good thing going, and despite my low hopes, Awakening delivered. It's not going to change any minds about the franchise, but it gives the fans a new direction for the story to continue. Here's hoping they keep it up. 6.5/10.
AttnDefDis #1: AttnDefDis - added 02/01/2012, 07:23 PM
This is not my favorite franchise, but I did thoroughly enjoy "Evolution" and was curious about this entry. On the one hand, I'm kind of glad Scott Speedman is gone as I was never a fan of his, but on the other hand, I hate when they replace main characters in a series. I was also a little leery of Kate Beckinsale holding up the entire movie. I mean, she's pretty and all, but she's not much of an actress. Good to know, she can hold her own. All in all, thanks for the review. I will probably check this one out.

P.S. Best phrase from your review "Anne Franking it up." Simply awesome.
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