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REVIEW: Underworld: Awakening

Friday 27 January 2012, 10:12AM

88 minutes

Rating: 15+

Director: Måns Mårlind,Björn Stein

Starring: Kate Beckinsale, Sandrine Holt, Theo James, Michael Ealy


The summer blockbuster season is now officially over, meaning it’s now time to pick up the dregs coming out of the Hollywood studios.

And so all hail Underworld: Awakening, the fourth installment in the franchise – and a miserable one at that.

This was admittedly my first entry into the film franchise, and having not seen any of the last three entries (which came out in 2003, 2006, and 2009), it was difficult to make any sense of what this film was even about, aside from senseless violence, mediocre special effects, and an oppressively dark tone.

True to its title, Awakening finds vampire warrior Selene (latex-clad Kate Beckinsale) waking up 12 years after humanity’s discovery and “purging” of the vampire and
Lycan (werewolf) hordes living in their midst.

However, before she can even get her bearings, she is swept up in a rescue mission involving a young girl named Eve (India Eisley).


And that’s about it.

Awakening looks and feels like an extended TV episode, rather than a big-budget feature film.

The film is nothing more than a string of action sequences and cheap set-pieces, often shot at wide angles that reveal the elementary fight choreography, not helped by the amateurish direction of Swedish duo Måns Mårlind and Björn Stein, whose primary experience is in directing television shows, as it so happens.

Cheap CGI effects make the blood spatter, superhuman feats and supernatural creatures look caricaturish, and they clash awkwardly with the dark, serious tone of the rest of the film.

Apparently a variety of writers worked on the script – including the original Underworld director Len Wiseman and Thor writer J. Michael Straczynski – but it’s hard to see where that combined effort was spent. There is almost no development of character or narrative, no thematic arcs, and a lot of the plot contrivances are so pronounced that it’s hard to take the movie seriously, even as a vampire flick.

There was a lot of room for Kate Beckinsale’s character to experience some real development throughout the course of the film. Unfortunately, Selene reacts to her new circumstances with such unflinching stoicism that it’s hard to become invested in anything that’s happening.

If you’ve enjoyed the previous films for what they are, or just enjoy watching Kate Beckinsale run around in latex, then you’re probably the sort of person who will still get kicks out of this film.

For anyone else, don’t waste the time or money on this broken down piece of sorry cinema making.

– Dane Halpin

1 1/2 stars

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