10 May 2012

Movies: Underworld: Awakening

Underworld: Awakening (2012) http://www.imdb.com/title/tt1496025/

Action/Thriller

The story of "Underworld: Awakening" (U:A) continues a little bit after 2006's "Underworld: Evolution" (U:E) leaves off.
Humans have discovered that vampires and werewolves (lycans) are not only real but living hidden lives within the population. Humans freak out, figure out how to distinguish the others and start killing off every one they can get their hands on.
Super-vampire Selene and vamplycan hybrid Michael are on the run dodging the death squads. They get chased to the docks, get shot up, fall in the water and get captured by some grenade technology that freezes them in the water (just go with it).
We rejoin Selene's frozen self in a container labeled Subject 1. She thaws, escapes, gets dressed, fights some folks and flees the building. Someone set it up so she could escape. Don't worry - she (and we) finds out who and why soon enough.  While Selene grapples with the discovery that she's been frozen for twelve years and deals with the apparent loss of her beloved Michael she encounters a vampire that is part of an underground vampire coven. As they track down another escapee immortal whom Selene suspects is Michael, some remaining werewolves are also pursuing said escapee.  Despite the humans trying to hunt them all to extinction he vampire vs. lycan fight still continues.

It helps to have seen both "Underworld" and "Underworld: Evolution" before watching this film. They establish the groundwork, the 'world' that these vampires and werewolves operate in, the central character(s), their histories, etc. Yes, there is an "Underworld: Rise of the Lycans" (U:RotL) film that was released between U:E and U:A, but U:RotL is a prequel. Its story line takes place way before the original "Underworld" film, and basically plays out histories mentioned in U and U:E. Seeing U:RotL isn't necessary for watching U:A.
U:A, on the other hand, continues to follow how Selene has been impacted by the gift given her by Corvinus, the father of both the vampire and lycan lines, and the impact of the first vampire-lycan hybrid Michael on the future of the Corvinus-infected descendants.

The film has a lot of action, fights, callbacks to things that happened in previous Underworld films, some explosions, runnings around, car crashes, and more Selene in the sleek black pleather corseted kickassery she brings to the series. Kate Beckinsale still looks about the same as she did in the original Underworld film 9 years ago, which really helps the continuity of the series.  Although another major character was gone most of the film they were somewhat present, if mostly in spirit. If there is a sequel and that character returns, hopefully casting continuity happens.

Technically, there were a couple of CG effects that were really noticeably computer-generated, others worked well enough to not be a bother. Most of the practical effects were good. There were a couple of camera shots that looked really "Grand Theft Auto".  The lighting got sort of annoying because it seems like every location is outfitted with strobe lights. Although the film felt a little less organic than its predecessors I would say that overall it's a fine continuation of the series. It isn't a big degradation of the franchise, so any weaknesses get a pass in my book.

Overall? An interesting enough story, keeps me interested in the franchise. I want to see what happens next, and the ending of the film leaves the doors wide open for another sequel. If you are/were a fan of the original Underworld film and its sequels then this film should do nicely to keep you in the series.

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