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Underworld: Awakening

A 2012 film directed by MÃ¥rlind and Stein

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This is What Happens When Humans Get Involved

  • Jan 21, 2012
Star Rating:

The fact that I liked Underworld: Awakening says more about me than it does about the filmmakers. I have to admit that up front, for I want you to read this review all the way to the end. From my perspective, the first and second chapters of the series were needlessly complicated and nearly impossible to keep pace with. The prequel film, Underworld: Rise of the Lycans, was much more palatable, not only because it achieved the right look for the material, but also because it told a much more focused story that explained many of the mysterious plot elements. Now we have a fourth chapter, and although it’s about as lasting as dust in the wind, I think it represents what the series should have been right from the start: An escapist supernatural action thriller that gives us license to put our brains on autopilot.
One of the things the filmmakers did right was strip away all the unnecessarily detailed back stories that bogged down the first and second films. Reduced in time from over two hours to just under ninety minutes, we have a singular story that’s easy to follow and process. It begins immediately after the events of Underworld: Evolution; the vampire Death Dealer Selene (Kate Beckinsale) and her lover, the hybrid Michael (Scott Speedman), are on the run after humans somehow became aware of the centuries-old war between the vampires and lycans. It was never adequately explained how the war was kept hidden from humanity for all those years, and it’s left a little obscure when and how they found out about it, but I suppose it doesn’t really matter. An underwater explosion separates the two, and the next thing Selene knows, she’s being awakened from a cryogenic sleep. She will soon discover that she’s being held prisoner in a lab, and that twelve years have passed.

Why was she being held prisoner? It seems that humans decided to wage war on all supernatural beings once their existence was made public. A television montage tells us that one of the world’s governments declared martial law, after which armies oversaw a cleansing – an event referred to throughout the film as The Purge. As to whether or not this took place all over the world is something the film doesn’t bother to address, which is just as well since Selene is the real subject of the story. Anyway, it now appears the lycans are all but extinct, reduced to a handful of diseased scavengers in underground dwellings. Furthermore, very few vampire covens are left. Any remaining creatures are either eradicated on site or unwillingly become the subjects of medical experiments. This is how we find Selene, where she has been dubbed Subject #1.
As soon as she awakens, she discovers she has the ability to see through the eyes of another creature, the one that set her free. Alas, it isn’t her beloved Michael. It’s an adolescent girl named Eve (India Eisley), who, like Michael, is a vampire/lycan hybrid. Could she be Selene’s daughter? This possibility is generally accepted by the characters, although that raises a number of logistical questions that are frankly too intelligent for the likes of this story. For the sake of time and energy, let us assume that she is indeed Selene’s daughter and move on with the story. Eve, known by lab technicians as Subject #2, has been the pet project of Dr. Jacob Lane (Stephen Rea), the head scientist for a major bioengineering company; true to form of doctors in movies like this, he wants to use Eve’s DNA for his own nefarious purposes.

Awakening is not as visually noteworthy as its three predecessors, perhaps because the tone has been altered to be more in line with sci-fi medical thrillers like the Resident Evil films. Having said that, many of the series’ stylistic touches remain, not the least of which are the scenes of relentless action and special effects. Like her trademark skintight black leather suit, Beckinsale is almost never seen without a gun in each hand; she will repeatedly shoot at things, mostly lycans, and we will marvel at the number of bullets a single handgun can hold. When a gun isn’t within reach, she will arm herself with a knife and use her super speed to run through lines of people, slitting them to death. And of course, she continues to flaunt her ability to jump from very high points and land smoothly.
Apart from Eve and Dr. Lane, other new characters are introduced. These would include: David (Theo James), a vampire who takes in Selene and Eve and is eager to fight for the future of all vampires; David’s father, Thomas (Charles Dance), who isn’t as eager to fight; and Detective Sebastian (Michael Ealy), a human who has personal reasons for helping Selene when Eve is kidnapped by a pack of genetically altered lycans. None of them are particularly well developed, but then again, they didn’t really need to be. More of note is the fact that Underworld: Awakening is the first of the series to be released in 3D. Because the film was actually shot that way and not converted in post production, I found it to be effective, if somewhat dim (although not as dim as I had expected, which was a pleasant surprise). There’s certainly no harm in seeing it that way, although I don’t think the experience will be lessened if you save your money and see it in 2D.


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January 22, 2012
I just saw this one too before I went to see "Haywire"--I really enjoyed reading your observations with the plot, I thought that this was the beginning of a possible new trilogy and it would be interesting to see where this is all headed. I have to say that I agree with your review, actualy we have 'like' things to say about it. Glad I didn't read your write up before I wrote mine. Nice job!
January 30, 2012
We seem to be the only people that liked it. Maybe I'm too easygoing, but I'm willing to accept a film for what it is if it's done adequately enough. And as I make clear in the review, at least this time I could understand what was going on and why. Watching the first two films, I repeatedly had to ask myself questions about the plot, characters, and back story. They were too confusing for me.
More Underworld: Awakening reviews
review by . January 21, 2012
posted in Movie Hype
The Original Death Dealer Returns To Fight A New War Against Humans and Lycans!
I’ve been a fan of the “Underworld” film franchise since it came to light some years ago. I mean, Kate Beckinsale would be enough to draw me into any film, but the story arc of the series have had ambition and for the most part, it knew where it wanted to go. Admittedly, the franchise really isn‘t awesome and “Evolution” was a step back in the stories, but the recent “Rise of the Lycans” proved to be the best one in the series since the original. Now, …
review by . September 04, 2012
posted in Movie Hype
2012 Film   Running time: 1hr 28 minutes   Stars   Kate Beckinsale   Michael Ealy   India Eisley   Bjorn Stein      Kate Bekinsale, is Selene, a vampire warrior who was caught and brought to a research laboratory. She was kept in a laboratory tank, in suspended captivity for twelve years. She is able to sense another presence and learns that she has a powerful daughter named Eve. The Lycans are trying to use her DNA …
review by . September 04, 2012
posted in Movie Hype
2012 Film   Running time: 1hr 28 minutes   Stars   Kate Beckinsale   Michael Ealy   India Eisley   Bjorn Stein      Kate Bekinsale, is Selene, a vampire warrior who was caught and brought to a research laboratory. She was kept in a laboratory tank, in suspended captivity for twelve years. She is able to sense another presence and learns that she has a powerful daughter named Eve. The Lycans are trying to use her DNA …
Quick Tip by . January 21, 2012
Kate Beckinsale returns as the vampire-warrioress Selene. This time, the stakes are bigger and goes beyond the war with the Lycans--this time time, the enemy is the planet's most dominant race: Humanity.      Sporting more advanced special effects and more polished editing tricks, "Underworld Awakening" goes further into its mythos, and this time, Selene is very angry.      See full review here.     
About the reviewer
Chris Pandolfi ()
Growing up a shy kid in a quiet suburb of Los Angeles, Chris Pandolfi knows all about the imagination. Pretend games were always the most fun for him, especially on the school playground; he and his … more
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About this movie


  • Underworld Awakening
  • Opened January 20, 2012 | Runtime:1 hr. 29 min.
  • R
    strong violence and gore, and for some language
  • Kate Beckinsale returns in her lead role as the vampire warrioress Selene, who escapes imprisonment to find herself in a world where humans have discovered the existence of both Vampire and Lycan clans, and are conducting an all-out war to eradicate both immortal species.
  • Cast: Kate Beckinsale, Stephen Rea, Michael Ealy, Theo James, India Eisley
  • Director: Mans Marlind
  • Genres: Action/Adventure, Horror
Kate Beckinsale "Underworld Awakening."
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Genre: Action, Fantasy, Horror
Release Date: January 20, 2012
MPAA Rating: R
Runtime: 1 hour 30 minutes
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