Selene is back and fans of the Underworld franchise can thank God for that. No offense to Rhona Mitra and the extraordinarily lackluster Underworld: Rise of the Lycans, but this is a franchise that is, was and always will rely on Kate Beckinsale in patent leather doling out death on a ravenous horde of lycans and with Underworld Awakening that’s exactly what we’re offered. CG blood will be spilled, a werewolf’s head will quite literally be ripped open and you better watch your Adam’s apple because it is just as much in danger as the rest of you’re extremities should you shift into a hairy beast when the moon glows full.
And with that paragraph out of the way I can now attempt to dial it back a smidge. I don’t want to give you the wrong impression. I’m not saying the Underworld films are some sort of cinematic genius. No, this particular franchise falls into that “guilty pleasure” column for me. In fact, I wasn’t much of a fan when I saw the first film back in 2003. It took a second viewing on DVD for me to begin to appreciate it as a piece of entertainment I felt it was worth spending my time consuming. Three years later I was on board and Underworld Evolution delivered, particularly in its blood-splattered finale.
When an attempt was made to bring a prequel to the big screen, as a result of what I can only assume to be Beckinsale’s unwillingness to return to the franchise, Rise of the Lycans sought to tell a story we already knew, essentially creating a feature length flashback and it was as bad as that description suggests.
Luckily, that’s in the past and Screen Gems didn’t give up on the franchise even though it appeared that would be the case. Then again, when the star of the franchise agrees to once again don the costume that leaves very little to the imagination what other choice do you have than to dust Selene off for one more go around?
Assigned the task of bringing the franchise back to the big screen we have the Swedish directing duo Mans Marlind and Bjorn Stein (credited as “Marlind and Stein”) and they fully embrace the mayhem that came before as the fight between vampires and lycans brings humans into the fold.
The opening serves as a flashback telling us Selene’s story up to this point with several scenes from the first films converted into 3D as we learn humans have learned of the existence of vampires and lycans and have made every attempt to exterminate both species.
In response to the human reaction, Selene attempts to escape only to be captured and cryogenically frozen at a scientific research facility where tests are performed on her for the next 12 years in an attempt to find a “cure”. The story essentially begins as she is freed from her icy coffin by a young hybrid (India Eisley) whose mere existence is of the utmost importance to everyone involved.
You can make story assumptions from there however you wish, but I won’t reveal any more information, hopefully saving a few story surprises for the theater. But should the film perform well at the box-office, it would appear Screen Gems and Beckinsale aren’t done with this franchise yet with an ending that leaves plenty more territory to be explored and blood to be spilled and I say bring it on
Selene’s aggression and take no prisoners attitude was a welcome addition to this new film and I would love to see more. Underworld Awakening also embraces the idea Selene as a vampire more than the franchise ever has as her strength, speed and agility play a much larger role in her fighting style while always reserving choice opportunities for a bullet to the head ,and Beckinsale is once again a nice piece of eye candy in her character defining garb.
The supporting cast includes the likes of Stephen Rea, Michael Ealy, Theo James and Charles Dance and don’t be fooled by the actor playing Michael, the hybrid Selene falls for in the first two films, it isn’t Scott Speedman as the credits at the end of the film don’t even mention his character and anyone that has ever seen Speedman will quickly know it’s not him. Then again, it doesn’t really matter as his character is only briefly seen, though referenced throughout.
Underworld Awakening is a bloody fun popcorn feature filled with monsters, blood, bullets and bone-breaking gore. Yes, you’re reading a review from someone that fully enjoys and was looking forward to seeing this film and as that someone I was entirely entertained.