Review - Underworld: Awakening


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Review - Underworld: Awakening
Selene is back! And it's pretty good...
Underworld: Awakening (2012)
Måns Mårlind, Björn Stein
Kate Beckinsale, Charles Dance
Release Date:
Age Rating:
More than a decade on from her last adventure, tightly clothed vampire Selene (Kate Beckinsale) is released from captivity and sets out to find love interest Michael in a world she no longer recognises. A world where Vampires and Lychans are being hunted to extinction.

The Underworld series has always been a curious beast. Little loved by critics, the films themselves have been moderately entertaining action flicks – enhanced by some attention to the mythology of the creatures and a decent enough backstory. For my part, I’ve had some fun with all three of the previous films – particularly prequel Rise of the Lycans which arrived in cinemas in 2009.

For Awakening, we’re back to the established timeline and to lead Beckinsale. She’s an actress of limited skill, who has found a niche in movies made by her husband Len Wiseman (like Underworld and the upcoming Total Recall reboot) but she works just fine in this format. It doesn’t hurt that, at 38, she still wears the costume remarkably well.

The series has tended to focus on the highly irregular relationship between Selene and hybrid Michael – previously played by Scott Speedman. But here, that plot line is hampered by the fact that Speedman isn’t in the film, leaving the few appearances by the character to be hashed together with prosthetics and quick cuts.

Instead, we’re given a new character for Selene to worry about, while she also attempts to find out what has happened in the years since she disappeared from the world. That will mean going up against the shady scientists of Antigen (led by a slumming Stephen Rea) and dealing with the local police force.

Helming duo Måns Mårlind and Björn Stein have taken over directing duties, doing a far better job than they did with 2010’s Shelter. Which was just diabolical. First and foremost, Awakening goes out of its way to earn its 18 rating, with levels of peril and evisceration which we’re quite unused to seeing. It makes perfect sense given the dark world full of permanently angry supernatural beings but it’s worth taking note of if you’re squeamish.

Awakening is chock full of action, more so than any other film in the series and it also contains some refreshingly unique set pieces, pitting Selene against humans (which is always fun) and throwing a monstrous Lychan into the mix. Surprisingly decent CG ups the ante and while the 3D isn’t overly impressive, it doesn’t detract from the viewing experience too much and some nice particle effects in the closing scenes have a decent sense of presence.

It’s hardly a film that movie-goers have been waiting for with bated breath but Underworld: Awakening is a solid genre flick that delivers some surprisingly well-wrought action scenes, full blooded violence and a decent, if thinly spread, story. Roll on Underworld 5.

7 Stars
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