Underworld: Awakening, the latest installment in the popular vampire vs. werewolf series, was released in theaters this weekend. The film picks up shortly after the end of the second film, making it the third in the actual storyline if you drop the prequel on the curb for heavy trash pickup where it belongs.
Ok, that was rather mean. I promised myself when I started reviewing movies again that I would give them a chance, and not jump directly into ripping them apart at the seams like some destructive toddler would with its first teddy bear. I swore that I would try to see the good that millions of fans worldwide see in certain film, which is precisely what I did going into Underworld: Awakening.
I put my utter hatred for the previous Underworld films aside, a hatred born from the idea of creating a franchise based around two iconic horror movie monsters where, instead of ripping each other to shreds, they just run around shooting at each other with guns while wearing hand-me-down costumes from The Matrix. You’re a goddamn werewolf, with razor-sharp claws and the strength of ten men. Act like one. But I digress…
Underworld: Awakening is meant to be experienced in 3D, as my local theater made abundantly clear by only offering ONE non-3D showing. Yes, that’s correct – ONE non-3D showing. On opening weekend. And if you’ve read my previous work, you know exactly how I feel about this 3D nonsense, so of course I chose the (incredibly inconvenient) digital projection screening. Of all the 3D films I’ve seen in a non-3D format, I have to point out that Awakening probably has the least amount of gratuitous action scenes created for the sole purpose of “looking all badass and junk.” So thank you, Awakening, for not putting me through the same sort of terrible experience as the most recent Resident Evil film.
Anyway. The opening sequence informs us that, not only are the lycans and vampires still beefing, they’ve been discovered by the humans, who have created a massive task forces to seek out and eliminate any non-humans. Yes, folks, the human species with their unaltered DNA sequences have somehow managed to establish dominance over the vampires and werewolves, dragging them into the streets and executing them. How did they accomplish this feat? With guns, of course. No special tactics. Just guns.
Does anyone else find it odd that some douchebags fresh out of the police academy can take down creatures with amplified strength and agility, not to mention enhanced healing factors? Creatures who also happen to be extremely skilled with hand-to-hand combat weapons and military-grade firearms? Yeah, I struggled with that one, too.
Kate Becksinale, looking ever so lovely in her skintight black outfit, reprises her role as Selene, who is planing to escape the madness by running away with Michael, who is once again portrayed by… some guy. No seriously, it’s just some guy. He’s only in the film for like five minutes and the actor barely looks like Scott Speedman at all. What the hell was Speedman doing that prevented him from showing up for one goddamn scene? Anyway, they get caught, shit blows up, scene ends.
We then resume with Selene being thawed out like a Thanksgiving turkey and escaping some heavily guarded research facility. She wanders the city (in black latex) until she finds out that the humans have won the war, and she’s been frozen for nearly 12 years. With the help of a fellow vampire, she attempts to track down Michael, but instead finds some little 12-year-old girl named Eve, who possesses the same powers as Michael. Yes, you guessed it – it’s her daughter.
That’s right, I said daughter. Somehow, she was pregnant by the end of the second movie. Somehow, she was unaware of her pregnancy. Somehow, while frozen for 12 years, they got a baby of out her and raised it. Somehow, this is all supposed to make sense. Somehow, I can’t seem to stop saying “somehow” as the inner workings of this plot have confused the hamster on the wheel and my brain feels like it wants to shut down.
After an encounter with a “super lycan” (featuring that scene from every trailer where Selene does a slow-motion flip over the creature’s head), Selene discovers that the company that the research facility she escaped from is controlled by lycans. Every single employee, from the president and CEO of the corporation, right down to Max the janitor and Shirley in human resources – all lycans, and all of them hell-bent on harvesting Eve’s organs to discover the secret of the hybrids, with hopes of injecting each member of their species to create an entire race of super lycans. The super lycan that Selene escaped from was apparently created from some kind of serum that the lycans produced after experimenting on Eve.
I’m not entirely sure why they can’t just do more experiments and make more serum – obviously, it worked, so why do we suddenly need to harvest her organs? And are you wondering why, if they had this little girl in their possession the whole time, they’re just now getting around to the decision to gut her like a trout? Yeah, me too. Like much of the plot, they don’t really give any kind of explanation – you’re just supposed to accept it and move on, despite the fact that it doesn’t make any goddamn sense.
The inevitable showdown between Selene and the super lycan takes place in a parking garage, and despite the fact that the super lycan appeared nearly two stories tall during the first encounter, he somehow has no problems standing fully erect (hehehe) in this parking garage, which means that he’s either gone through a severe reduction in height, or our characters have wandered into a garage that holds the world record for highest overhead clearance. Who knows? Trying to make sense of this is exhausting. And it’ll only get worse, as the final sequence of the movie sets the stage for a sequel, which means we have another equally frustrating episode to look forward to in a few years.
Despite all the negativity, I would like to point out a few good qualities in Underworld: Awakening. Selene killed more things with her bare hands and blades than guns, which is all I ever wanted in the first place. There was plenty of action in the fight sequences, with only a few of them obviously shot to capitalize on the 3D format. And did I mention that Kate Beckinsale looks really good in skintight black latex?
FINAL SCORE: 5/10