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January 27, 2012


Capsule Movie Review – Underworld: Awakening (2012)


The vampires and werewolves are at each others’ throats again in Underworld: Awakening. Two things must be understood: 1) this is the fourth installment in a monster movie series and 2) the story is at the service of the supernatural fantasy action, not the other way around. Taken on those terms it works rather well. Picking up from where the second movie left off (the intervening entry being a prequel), vampire Death Dealer Selene (series star Kate Beckinsale) and her hybrid vampire/werewolf lover are surviving in a new world order where humans have become the hunters. The action almost immediately jumps forward 12 years to Selene awakening from cryogenic sleep in a fortified research facility. She teams up with Theo James’s vampire from an underground coven and Michael Ealy’s friendly human cop to rescue India Eisley’s captive hybrid girl. The most impressive thing about the whole movie is that this scenario holds up as simultaneously a sequel, a standalone story, and a platform for further adventures. The Underworld series has always had a good eye for casting its villains, and Stephen Rea continues the pattern as a mad doctor with a hidden agenda. Stylistically Awakening is a well-judged return to the look of the first film. Taking advantage of current special effects technology, this entry is even more action-packed than its predecessors.

2 1/2 stars

One thing I liked and one thing I didn’t like: I liked how they had Eisley pattern her movements on Beckinsale’s, and also that she has the physical presence to keep from being overshadowed. The supporting characters’ roles could have been beefed up without risk of getting in the way of the action.

7 Comments Post a comment
  1. Michelle
    Jan 27 2012

    I think I will check this one out this weekend if I can fit it in. I loved the first one, wasn’t crazy about the second, and haven’t seen the prequel. The trailer for this one looked pretty awesome, and your review makes me feel confident in giving it a go. I really do mean to catch the prequel at some point, too.

    Vampires and werewolves done right–NICE!

  2. Jan 27 2012

    …I’m not going to say it…

    Okay fine! I hated the first two films and only watched 20 minutes of the third one. I hate that these films don’t have vampires, in the traditional sense: they don’t drink blood, they don’t fly, they don’t turn to mist, they don’t turn to wolves, they don’t move faster than the eye can see (when compared to humans), they’re not stronger than werewolves (which is total bs), but they do fire guns and ride around in cars. And the only reason why I liked the second more than the first is because it had a vampire in it: remember that giant bat creature? THAT’S a vampire.

    I dislike the Underworld film series, the LOTR film series, and the Harry Potter series from the fourth film to the end. I am an anomaly that chooses not to conform to today’s standards, in regards to fashion, technology, and the degradation of the English language. Maybe I should start a cult…

    Oh, right! Nice review Helen. I also like these capsule reviews. :O)

  3. Michelle
    Jan 27 2012

    Nir, it’s your world. We just live in it. :)

  4. Jan 27 2012

    I knew it! But the doctor kept insisting that it’s something called megalo… megoli… megalomania!

  5. Jan 28 2012

    @Michelle: I know I saw the second one in the theater but I can’t remember a thing about it. Not one single thing. I don’t even remember if I liked it or not, that’s how little impression it made!

    This is the best of the sequels because it’s the most like the first movie and Scott Speedman isn’t in it. Comment again after you see it and give us your take.

    @Nir: I’m bored with the same old, same old in vampire movies AND never cared much for the traditional vampire mythos to begin with. I enjoy the “Underworld” universe precisely because it’s not the usual fare.

  6. Jan 28 2012

    I understand. No one truly loves the Underworld films, they’re all just guilty pleasures. But the lack of vampires in them annoyed me. And the whole bullet-time, slow motion thing was already getting old.

  7. Doc
    Feb 3 2012

    The second Underworld film did not work because a terrible casting decision inflicted an actor with no screen presence upon us as the hero. The current film works in part because the plot requires that actor’s character, and not his audience, to sleep through the film.