Underworld: Awakening

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“a.k.a Underworld: Look, We’re Really Sorry About The Last One. Here’s Kate Beckinsale In PVC Again.”

Actually, we quite enjoyed the third part, but we’re Bill Nighy marks. Still, nice to get back to the basics mentioned above, and the storyline here was a good one, even if more than a tad reminscent of Ultraviolet. After the revelation that vampires and lycans exist, humanity goes on a pogrom against the two species, driving them underground. Selene is capture, and wakes up to find herself, a dozen years later, in a wrecked research lab. Initially, she suspects Michael Corvin, but discovers a young girl, Eve (Eisley) to whom she has a connection; turns out to be another vampycan hybrid. Research company Antigen, under Dr. Jacob Lane (Rea) were using the two of them to make a vaccine, until Eve escaped, freeing Selene, and are now desperate to get their subjects back. But are their motives quite as altruistic as they appear?

Plenty of action, plenty of Beckinsale (I’m glad Corvin was basically absent), interesting scenario. Unfortunately, the CGI Lycans are utterly, utterly horrible, like something from a mid-90’s console game. There’s absolutely no sense of them being anything other than a visual effect added later, and this distracts terribly from a lot of the battle scenes. I’m generally pretty good at suspending disbelief; here, it was the CGI equivalent of the fake Bela Lugosi in Plan 9, holding his cape in front of his face. It was that much of an attention-grabber. The film was originally made in 3D, and one wonders whether that’s part of the problem: I saw it in regular format, and was vastly underwhelmed. Indeed, too much even of things like Selene’s falls, were obviously pixels being moved with a mouse.

That’s a shame, as there’s a fair bit to enjoy here, providing you’re looking for nothing more complex than straightforward ass-kicking. They could probably have done with developing the human angle and make this fight a three-way dance – after initiating the first purge, we are hardly seen again. However, Beckinsale has the presence and – when not replaced by her virtual stunt-double – continues to look the part with splendid self-confidence, in a way few actresses can manage. It’s an improvement over Evolution, certainly, though the series remains one where all the entries have had their flaws, preventing it from achieving the greatness which one feels they could have achieved.

Dir: Marlind + Stein
Star: Kate Beckinsale, India Eisley, Stephen Rea, Michael Ealy

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