I remember a handful of years back when word got out that a third Underworld movie was in production. Then word arrived that series star Kate Beckinsale would not be a part of the film. I, along with many other fans, felt the unfortunate sting. Thankfully, Underworld: Rise of the Lycans was a great-fitting prequel spelling out the history of the werewolf/vampire rivalry. With a trilogy in the books, fans still wanted another movie, but this time with Kate Beckinsale. I give you Underworld: Awakening.
This film is probably my most anticipated of 2012…yes, even more than The Avengers. The Underworld franchise is easily one of my favorites, although the lack of press screenings for the fourth installment was a bit disconcerting at best. The concept of the film focuses around humans finally discovering that vampire and werewolf races actually exist which is followed by a genocide of the supernatural species. Beckinsale resumes her role as the centuries-old vampire Selene who finds herself on the run from a group of well-armed soldiers, whom she quickly and creatively dispatches. Her heightened abilities (and über sex factor) are highlighted to the Nth degree as she weaves, slides and slashes her way to the man she loves; werewolf-vamp hybrid Michael Corvin.
Corvin is played once again by Scott Speedman and with his character are where my complaints begin. When we last left the Selene-Michael pairing, they were madly in love and on the run into a future unknown. The new movie takes on a different direction as Speedman’s character is in the movie for just mere seconds. He doesn’t even have a line in the film. Strike one. Eventually, Selene finds herself awakening (hence the subtitle) from a cryogenic-induced slumber in a labratory. Her escape ultimately leads to a connection with a young girl who happens to be another vampire-werewolf hybrid. Along the way, Selene befriends a cop and another vampire as she progresses her search of Michael, the lab that held her, and just who this young girl is.
Sadly, Awakening doesn’t feel like an Underworld movie…at least not all the way through (strike two). The acting is at times atrocious and the story is consistently hurried (strikes three & four and this inning’s long over). It is impossible for someone to say they thoroughly enjoyed this movie because there’s not enough quality content to warrant use of the word ‘thorough.’ Plot issues (science builds a better werewolf) and a case of too many cooks in the kitchen (two directors & close to half a dozen writers on the script) equalled to one disappointing film, which ultimately tainted the series. Is there entertainment value here? Yes. Will it make a good rental? Yes. Is it worth the price of cinema admission? Heck no.
The ending is left wide open for a sequel, which I’m all for, despite the empty feel of Awakening. Here’s a chance for the series to redeem itself if and when a fifth film comes to fruition. Bring Selene back, bring Michael back (in a greater capacity than just a few growls) and put Len Wiseman back in the director’s chair. In a nutshell, Underworld 4 is ultimately The Phantom Menace of the franchise. Here’s hoping for a return to the original feel that made Underworld that wicked film it was.