Mania Grade: C-
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- Rated: R
- Cast: Kate Beckinsale, Theo James, India Eisley
- Writers: Len Wiseman, John Hlavin, J. Michael Straczynski, Allison Burnett
- Directors: Mars Marlind and Bjorn Stein
- Distributor: Sony Home Entertainment
- Original Year of Release: 2012
- Extras: See Below
Underworld: Awakening Blu-ray Review
See it for Beckinsale and not much else
By Tim Janson
May 08, 2012
Underworld: Awakening is the 4th installment in the Underworld series despite the fact that the previous entry, Underworld: Rise of the Lycans, was disappointing both critically and financially. And perhaps even more surprising is the fact that the end of the film clearly sets the table for not only another sequel, but several sequels. Now if we want to be honest, Underworld: Awakening actually made more money than any of the films in the series so maybe these guys are smarter than I’m giving them credit for being.
Awakening is set six months after the events in Underworld: Evolution (remember, Rise of the Lycans was a prequel). The ages-long battle between vampires and werewolves has been put on hold as the two races find a common foe to battle—Humans! After learning of the existence of Vampires and Lycans the humans put together their resources to hunt down and exterminate them. While trying to rescue her hybrid lover Michael Corvin, Selene (Beckinsale) is injured and captured. She awakens inside a research facility operated by the global Antigen Corporation and has been mysteriously released from her cryogenic stasis.
Selene has telepathic visions that she follows, believing them to be coming from Michael Corvin. The visions lead her to a building where she encounters David (Theo James) , a fellow vampire. While talking to David, Selene has another vision and discovers a young girl, Eve (India Eisley) a girl who is right around 12 years old…catching the connection here? The trio flees from a pack of diseased werewolves as Selene and Eve seek sanctuary in one of the few remaining vampire strongholds, led by David’s father, Thomas (Charles Dance of Game of Thrones). Their brief peace is interrupted by an attack of several werewolves including a “Super Lycan” that is several times bigger than any normal werewolf. Selene learns the deadly truth behind what Antigen is up to and why they want Eve.
Awakening presents a refreshing change from the first three films, putting humans into the role of the main antagonists including Stephen Rea as Doctor Lane, the head of Antigen research and a throwback to mad scientists of horror’s Golden Age of films. It’s great to see Beckinsale back in the role that made her a star and she looks fantastic. She’s easily the top selling point of the film and she rocks the film’s many action sequences. Beyond Beckinsale, however, there’s little here to get excited about. The story is predictable from the word go and it’s appalling easy to connect the dots from the opening to the ending credits. Fine actors like Rea and Dance are wasted in under-developed, cookie-cutter roles.
For a film that had a budget of $70 million dollars the visual effects, particularly the CGI Lycans are poorly rendered. There are parts when they move with jerky movements like they were produced with stop-motion animation as opposed to being computer generated. That’s all well and good if it’s the 1960s and it’s a Ray Harryhausen film, otherwise it’s a major disappointment. Even worse however is that the film ends (well more like it stops) without resolving several plot strands. They might as well have put up a graphic that read “To be continued” at the end. It’s the height of arrogance that Directors Mars Marlind and Bjorn Stein were so confident of future sequels that they short-changed Underworld fans a true ending.
Audio commentary with Directors Mars Marlind and Bjorn Stein.
Selene Rises (12:14) – A love fest featurette on Beckinsale returning to the role. Having Beckinsale back was certainly key to the role but it had only been three years since the previous film. Its not like Harrison Ford returning to Indiana Jones after 20 years…
Casting the Future of Underworld (12:33) – Looks at the roles of Eve and David with expectations of them becoming the central characters in the future Underworld films.
Resuming the Action (8:52) – A look at shooting the films key action and stunt sequences
Building a Better Lycan (10:20) – A look at how the visual FX team designed the look of the Lycans as well as the new Super Lycan.
Awakening a Franchise Building a Brutal new World(18:33) – a look at imagining a near future setting and using in a brand new 3D camera that shoots at 120 FPS
Previsualization Sequences (21:03) – These are some of the rough animatics that are used to plan out the actual filmed sequences so you can compare them to the finished product.
Blooper Reel (3:21)