Thursday, January 12, 2017

Movie Review: "Underworld: Awakening" (2012)

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Movie"Underworld: Awakening"
Director: Måns Mårlind & Björn Stein
Year: 2012
Rating: R
Running Time: 1 hour, 28 minutes

Now that the elder vampires are dead, a new battle starts to rise from the ashes of the old: a battle against humans.

"Underworld: Awakening" is the fourth installment in the "Underworld" franchise. It is directed by Måns Mårlind and Björn Stein. This film initially takes place 6 months after the events of "Underworld: Evolution," before jumping ahead 12 in the future via convenient plot device. With the vampire elders now all deceased, the war between vampires and lycans has come out of the shadows. Humans have discovered the existence of both species, and now, fight to eradicate them. A great 'purge' took place that wiped out huge chunks of both species. Meanwhile, a company called Antigen claims to be working to find a cure. At the same time, vampires are fighting for survival, but come up against an enemy they didn't expect.

Kate Beckinsale returns to the series as former Death Dealer Selene after taking the majority of the third film off (she was the narrator in the movie, but did not star in it since it was a prequel to the first "Underworld" film). After being taken captive by Antigen, Selene wakes up over a decade later, trapped in ice, and discovers that she and Michael, played by Scott Speedman in movies #1 and #2, have a daughter together, called Eve, played by India Eisley. Eve is a vampire/lycan hybrid, and both sides of the war want her blood.

After a short instance where the series tried to actually establish and build characters and relationships in the third film, "Underworld: Rise of the Lycans," the series reverts back to its previous faults of thin characters and weak, disposable, dumb plot lines like we saw in "Evolution." "Underworld: Awakening" dives head first back into the trend of style over substance as the film is loaded with a ton of mindless action, a bunch of blood, lycans morphing from their human form with outdated CGI, and tight leather clothing. Any attempt at character development, however, is half-hearted at best. And speaking of CGI, with more advancements in computer graphics over the years, the franchise finds itself relying more and more heavily on special effects over practical ones, and though there is a greater range of motion and bigger stunts, the visual quality has certainly suffered in the last two installments, most notably here in "Awakening." Not to be outdone by said prior installments, CGI also allows filmmakers to create an even bigger badder and more disposable villain than ever in the giant uber-lycan that is twice as big as any lycan Selene has ever seen.

"Underworld: Awakening" has a very short run time and a reliance on fast paced action sequences, which is both good and bad. It *almost* makes up for the lack of story and plot development, though it is painfully obvious that as soon as any story actually begins to unfold, the entire movie has ended before it ever really begin. It feels like very little is actually resolved or accomplished in this fourth sequel in the "Underworld" series. It isn't a complete bore, but it's dangerously close.

My Rating: 5/10
BigJ's Rating: 5.5/10
IMDB's Rating: 6.4/10
Rotten Tomatoes Rating: 26%
Do we recommend this movie: Meh.

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