The Underworld franchise should have been long forgotten, by Hollywood that is. Underworld and Underworld: Evolution stand as two of the better vampire action flicks made in my lifetime. Released before the new vampire craze, the craze that has made vampires less awesome and dreadful, the first two movies were action packed, story driven (enough at least), and featured some great conflict. Since then, the Underworldfranchise has been a shallow pool of action. In fact, I pretend the third one (Rise of the Lycans) doesn’t even exist. What third Underworld?
Underworld: Awakening returns to modern time, following Kate Beckinsale as Selene returning to the tight leather and boots. At this time, humans are aware of both vampires and lycans and have begun the process of removing them from the world. With nowhere to turn, Selene and Michael (Scott Speedman) run to the harbors to escape. Before they can they are attacked and Selene is then cryogenically frozen.
Fast forward, oh, about twelve years (they never truly say) and Selene is awaken from a frozen slumber to find that the world is a somewhat different place. The vampires and lycans have been pushed back far enough they are in hiding and Selene’s connection with another hybrid is no longer with Michael but with a young girl named Eve (India Eisley) who happens to share her looks. On the run, they find a nest of vampires and eventually have to return to fight the very organization, Antigen, that is set out to destroy vampires.
I was excited for Underworld: Awakening, I really was. I thought very highly of the first two Underworld movies, both starring the lovely Kate Beckinsale. But my journey through this movie was rather disastrous. There is an interesting twist that Underworld: Awakening presents, hence the vagueness in my plot summary, but other than that, Underworld: Awakening is a disjointed mess with little story and absolutely no character development. The audience knows Selene, and that appears to be good enough for the filmmakers and studio, as every other character is introduced and that's that. No lengthy back story to fill us in on Eve, although her origin is more than evident. There’s no explanation as to why the vampires and lycans have been pushed to where they are, and there’s no reason for the ultimate villain, Quint (Kris Holden-Ried) to be the ultimate villain. He’s just there at the end and wam-bam thank you ma’am; it’s done.
Besides the incredibly weak plot and lack of character development, the acting was all over the place. Alright, not necessarily all over the place as it was either decent or gaw-awful disgusting! Beckinsale does fine in the lead role, and Stephen Rea is acceptable as the mischievous leader of Antigen. However it feels as though Michael Early (the detective) and Theo James (portraying David) just showed up to the set one day to deliver some coffee and accidently found themselves in front of a camera. In fact, I would have rather watched the footage of them searching for the crew and cast that ordered the coffee as opposed to them robotically reading a crappy script.
In the end, all I can say is at least it’s not Underworld: Rise of the Lycans!
Underworld: Awakening is a terrible addition to the the franchise, one that should have been laid to rest a while back. Hollywood’s attempt to cash in on the vampire genre brought us back some familiar characters just to see them all slaughtered by pathetic writing and a waste of directing. The movie is blessed with some great action, but it’s plagued with cheesy special effects, twilighted vampires, bad acting, poor writing, terrible character development, and so forth and so forth. But hey, there is Kate Beckinsale!
Underworld: Awakening is as dark as the previous threeUnderworld movies, possibly even more so. The movie has a very iced over tone with blues and blacks carrying everything into an unnatural look. 3D or 2D though, Underworld fans will be pleased that the presentation looks fantastic even with those afore mentioned worries holding some truth.
No matter how dark the image gets though, Underworld: Awakening looks like it should. The muted canvas is very detailed, with the dark shadows of the movie holding plenty of detail. Skintones are unnatural but they’re freakin’ vampires… what were you expecting? Color does hold up well, with glimpses of bright colors popping in to add dimension. The blue tone of the movie isn’t a turn off, as the directors’ intentions are clear and so is the image with said intentions. The blue overtone isn’t dominating and adds to the mood of the movie. The cold, dark look makes the experience more gratifying, especially since it remains very three-dimensional and detailed. Scenes are constantly full of life, with the dark backgrounds looking as good as the brighter foregrounds. Never does the movie stray from perfection, and never does Underworld: Awakening look anything less than it should. The Mpeg-4 encode is reference quality in my book!
The sound for Underworld: Awakening is up there with the best of them. The DTS-HD Master Audio 7.1 track has a very wide range of sound and utilizes all the speakers in the surround sound system nicely. Soft dialogue is often interrupted with loud sound effects and sequences. There’s no issues though, as the audio track keeps on trucking from the quietest moments using one speaker to the most dynamic of moments blowing up across the entire sound system. The subwoofer plays in nicely with some added dimension, especially during action sequences. Music fills the room nicely without overpowering any other aspect of the soundtrack. Dialogue is the driving force with the center channel carrying conversations perfectly. Dialogue changes speakers to accurately depict direction, and it does so in a fantastic manner. Underworld: Awakening sounds fantastic on Blu-ray; in fact it’s reference quality.
Underworld: Awakening comes with a fair amount of extras. Almost all the extras features are the same across the 3D and 2D release except for the additional scenes the 3D version offers.
I thought the return of Kate Beckinsale would revive a franchise that could make me pretend there was no third installment. Underworld: Awakening isn’t much better than the third movie, as it's an obvious attempt to bring back familiar characters and cash in on the current teeny vampire craze. A terrible movie is blessed with an amazing Blu-ray as the video and audio are reference quality. If you’re a fan of this movie don’t hesitate to go high def, if you haven’t seen it… avoid at all costs!