Wednesday, February 15, 2012

Underworld: Awakening [2012]
Starring; Kate Beckinsale, Stephen Rea
Directed by: Måns Mårlind, Björn Stein

When human forces discover the existence of the Vampire and Lycan clans, a war to eradicate both species commences. 

I've been a fan of the Underworld series since it began, so there's no surprise that the new entry in the franchise was something i got into fairly easily.
All the expected basics are there, gothic imagery, endless vampire action and Kate Beckinsale in the tightest outfit ever. My favourite thing about the Underworld films is the mythology. It's vast, and over the course of the series it's gotten bigger and bigger. 'Awakening' continues building on that mythology, even though it can feel a bit rushed in places.
Most of this films problems come with the issue of Scott Speedman missing in action for this film. I have no idea why he couldn't be involved in the production of the movie, but his face has been CGI'd
onto a stand in and his character is seen more as a background figure than a title character like he's meant to be. Because of this, it feels as if the writers had to "work around" his absense and make do with what they could without being able to use him properly.
It's not a major issue, but certain things are skimmed over fairly quickly, like what happened to the characters between 'Awakening' and 'Evolution'. That portion of the story has been relegated to a quick montage in the beginning of the film. I imagine with Scott IN the actual movie, they would have tagged on an extra 15 minutes to the short running time of 'Awakening' to flesh out the current storyline better.
The ending of the film also suffers from this messy approach, with the story feeling uncomfortably unfinished as the credits roll. Of course, it's meant to have a "to be contiuned" finish like all of the previous Underworld films, but in Awakening, it feels poorly executed.

I guess the makers of 'Awakening' had to make do with what they had, and all things considering, they still managed to pull together an entertaining and fun movie.
Kate Beckinsale as Selene is at her cold killing best, as she runs up walls and jumps out of buildings better than she ever has. A lot of the action is brutal and her fight choreography is fantastic. The introduction of the hybrid child character, Eve, mixes up the new cast nicely, as well as other new and likeable additions to the cast, like Selene's new vampire side-kick, David.
The camera work is slick, the Lycans attack by the bucket full and movie runs at a tense fast pace.

Had 'Awakening' been given the opportunity to make better use of it's developing story, this could have been the best in the franchise so far. As it stands though, 'Awakening' feels more like a bridge between 'Evolution' and the next film, which i hope is given more room to bring the series to a proper close.