Film #215: UNDERWORLD: AWAKENING
3 out of 5 stars
Full disclosure: I did a lot of the initial press on this film and was onset during the filming of the picture. So, that said, I went into seeing the final product with some very high hopes since everything I saw onset looked pretty damn cool. First the good news: directors Mans Marlind & Bjorn Stein (SHELTER, STORM) waste no time getting to the action here and once things kick off, they manage to keep up a pretty frenetic pace.. Literally within minutes of the film’s beginning bullets are flying, bones are being broken, and Vampires and Lycans alike are being shot, smashed, and obliterated with abandon. As for the cast, everyone involved is solid with Stephen Rea(THE CRYING GAME, V FOR VENDETTA) being suitably menacing and Kate Beckinsale (PEARL HARBOR, VAN HELSING) is both completely badass and eye-numbingly beautiful in her role. As beautiful as she appears on-screen, I will say this (and I’ve said this before): she is easily one of the most beautiful women I’ve had the pleasure to see in person. She is, in a word or two, absolutely stunning. Directors Marlind & Stein manage to completely capture the look of the earlier films in the series from the moodiness of the sets to the hyper-kinetic action sequences. OK, so now the bad news: AWAKENING moves are such a fast pace that – other than Beckinsale – it’s nearly impossible to figure out who anybody is. Characters literally appear out of nowhere and are thrust center-stage with no background information much less any character motivation. You sort of gather that Guy A is a good guy while Guy B is a bad guy (I guess). It’s like BAM they’re there… and Ba-BAM they’re fighting. There are some pretty cool action sequences and the directors spare no blood, but by the time the third reel begins, you literally don’t care and all of the violence takes on a cartoon-like quality. And cartoon is pretty apt here… there is so much CG in AWAKENING that there are not a lot of images that look real. EVERYTHING looks like a cut-scene from a video game. So, while UNDERWORLD AWAKENING looks like a video game, the plot – like the others in the series – plays out like a VAMPIRE: THE MASQUERADE role-playing session. Still, the film does look cool and Beckinsale is gorgeous enough to warrant the film being rented. Just sit back, put your brain on hold, and strap in for a fun and wild ride. Fun & cool looking… just kind of pointless. Recommended… just know what you’re going to get before you get there. Oh, and expect additional sequels in this slick and sexy franchise.