Underworld: Awakening Reviews
July 18th 2014
January 25th 2017
At this point in the franchise, you pretty much know what you're going to get. Selene leads the war against anyone who opposes their kind. This time, however, it's humans who are on the opposite end of the stick. This premise felt a lot like when the old Planet of the Apes franchise ran out of ideas so they made a time jump and brought the humans in as the antagonists. In fact, it touches on a lot of the same social issues that 'Escape from the Planet of the Apes' did, experimentation on creatures for one. The problem is, it's only touched upon. Just like the new relationship Selene has with a young girl named Eve isn't totally the focus either.
I mean, I guess we can give 'Awakening' a little credit for not continuing the bland romance between Michael & Selene, and giving her someone new to care about. But there's a way to write characters into the story without overwhelming each scene with blood and guts. Heck, it's also pretty hard to root for Selene considering she slaughters every human in sight. This film absolutely doubles down on the series' heavy genre aspects, instead of trying to usher in a broader audience.
Theo James & Charles Dance are brought in to essentially replace roles taken by Bill Nighy and Scott Speedman. Both actors give more grounded turns than the others did, but even they can't turn awful dialogue into something worth caring about. I'm not so sure Daniel Day-Lewis could even do it. Although the dialogue is still horrendous, the characters are still shallow, and the plot continues to get more ridiculously contrived, these films can be entertaining. The action is better choreographed than any of the other films and at least the run-time is short, right?
+Action is amped up
+Performances are more grounded
-More blood & guts doesn't always mean the quality rises
-Characters are still hollow
You know what to expect here and boy do you get it in spades, slow motion high flying kills, double gun totting shooting, swishing blades, spurting blood and endless dumbass man fodder to thicken the brew. In short its exactly like the newer 'Resident Evil' films and you half expect Jovovich to pop up and take over. The super lycan serum which results in an uber lycan is pretty much the pinnacle of crapola in this franchise now, a total 'Resi Evil' idea type rip-off and it lowers the overall class of the whole series.
The plot isn't tooo bad, they manage to carry it on quite well and do a good job with keeping Corvin around despite Speedman not being involved, but the rest of the cast is pretty awful really. Charles Dance seems to be there only to provide a new Viktor type character and he clearly has difficulty speaking with his fangs in, he even tries some of Nighy's head movements. The rest of the supporting cast all come across as B-movie fare frankly, even previous vampire actor Rea can't help the cause.
The whole film feels very basic really. Some terrible CGI effects (worse than the previous films), bad greenscreen scenes, the lycans look like shaven rats, transformations are pretty dreadful looking, the 'vision' perspective looks crap and the young Eve looks like something outta 'Mortal Kombat'. Everything basically looks plastic and fake.
End of the day it does what it says on the tin and we all know what this film is about so I can't moan too much, but I just get the feeling they should of left it alone. They really have gone way way over the top with all the slow motion action sequences. The fact that Selene can kill endless lycans yet no one else can, just destroys your suspension of disbelief...even in this universe. Yes its an over the top fantasy flick but there is still a limit for any Mary Sue type characters, or there should be.
The thing is I can see this franchise really being completely milked into the depths of the 'straight to DVD' abyss. A shame as it is/was a half decent concept with some solid ideas and reasonable early entries. Alas this kind of W.S. Anderson-esque film making is becoming infuriating in a highly tacky way.
While not completely terrible, it definitely doesn't stand up well to it's predecessors.