I just returned from seeing UNDERWORLD: AWAKENING at my local theater and, unlike its lead character, my heart is still pumping. After the last movie I saw, THE DEVIL INSIDE (my review HERE), I decided to keep my high hopes in check. While BOTH films managed to do quite well financially on their opening weekends, I attribute that more to us horror fans craving a night at the movies as opposed to a testament of the films themselves. This one, however, does give you your money’s worth.
It was 2003 when the first UNDERWORLD debuted and could best be described as “Monsters meet THE MATRIX.” It was never going to make any die-hard horror fan’s Top Ten but was still quite entertaining, pumping fresh blood into the vampire mystique. Kate Beckinsale reprises her role as the Vampire, Selene, a nimble powerhouse that works her black leather like an undead Cat-Woman. Though its been nearly a decade since Beckinsale first donned her corset, she is no less alluring and appears to be every bit as ageless as her famous character would imply. The UNDERWORLD films would spawn sequels while garnering more fans along the way. The third installment, UNDERWORLD: RISE OF THE LYCANS, was actually a prequel taking us back to a pre-Selena era while highlighting the origins of the now timeless battle between vampires and werewolves a.k.a. “lycans.”
While the last film may have taken us to the distant past, this one brings us twelve years into the future. The human world, having discovered the existence of the two clans, has all but wiped them out. Selene awakens from deep freeze to discover its a whole new world, and not a vampire-friendly one at that. As she searches for her lover, Michael (a vampire/lycan hybrid) she discovers a young girl who is so much more than she appears. The two meet up with a small band of vampires who have managed to survive underground.
Unfortunately for Selene, the vamps weren’t the only ones to have survived “the purge.” A small group of lycans have also managed to hang on and with, I might add, a great deal more success than their pointy-toothed adversaries. This would also include one particularly fearsome werewolf that looks like a cross between Rin Tin Tin and The Incredible Hulk!
UNDERWORLD: AWAKENING features nonstop action, interesting characters, as well as a few twists & turns. In the spirit of Ripley from ALIENS, Selene proves that female action heroes can, on occasion, be more tough than their male counterparts while still retaining their femininity. My main gripe was with the CGI-ish lycans but, if you’ve managed to make it through the first three films, this should no longer be of concern. Anybody who is willing to see the fourth installment of a monster series is obviously not looking for art and should find this to be a worthy excursion. The version I saw was in 3D but, as it neither enhanced nor detracted from the experience, I don’t think you’ll miss much opting for the 2 Dimensional format.
In case you’re wondering about the fate of Michael, that is definitely addressed and opens the door for yet another entry in this successful franchise. One in which, I have no doubt, will be another hit….regardless of what the critics may say.
One thing is certain; no matter how dismal things may appear for the vampires, the UNDERWORLD future looks bright!