Directed by Mans Marlind and Bjorn Stein
Starring Kate Beckinsale and India Eisley
Runitme 88min. - Rated R
1 Star - (out of 4)
It amazes me that this film has 6 writing credits. All 6 of the writers must be special effects experts because they certainly didn't produce anything that resembles a story. The purpose of the plot is to produce as many violent encounters as possible between vampires and werewolves. If you subtract all the footage that doesn't include action, the movie would be about 5 minutes long. The formula very closely resembles the "Resident Evil" movie franchise except with even less drama.
Many sci-fi films use persecution of their non-human characters as a makeshift lesson on racism. Dune instantly comes to mind. Humans have learned of vampires and lycans in this installment of "Underworld". The ensuing "purge" is an obvious stand-in for ethnic cleansing. It's a premise that "X-Men" used pretty well, but this film is so superficial that the moral lessons seem cheap and possibly even offensive.
The plot contains so many mind-blowing revelations for the characters, but none of them seem to care. The writers never give them the time to care. In the first 10 minutes Selene (Beckinsale) gets captured and put into cryogenic storage. It's 12 years before she is thawed. When she emerges she learns that her lover has died and that she has a 12 year old child. What's her response? Kicking werewolf ass. The woman's entire universe has changed but she's never given a chance to contemplate or reflect on those changes. The only therapy the writers allow Selene is killing werewolves. The poor girl could use a hug every once in a while.
The acting in a movie like this is irrelevant. If you can look sexy in leather and make some mean faces, then you are qualified to "act" in an "Underworld" film. I was very excited to see Wes Bentley appear in the film. He's starred in such films as "American Beauty" and "P2". An extremely talented actor like Bentley could have brought a lot of credibility to the film. Unfortunately he's killed after about two lines of dialogue. Bentley isn't even officially credited for the role, which may have been his choice. Unless you are a star, being credited in a sub-par action film for a virtually non-speaking role can't do much for your career.
There is one positive in the film. The werewolves are impressive. Especially the one who has been chemically enhanced. If "Twilight's" Jacob ever came across that werewolf he'd pee himself before tucking his tale and running. I'm not a hater of "Twilight" though. Sure, it's full of romantic melodrama that targets a tween audience, but at least it has a story and doesn't serve a purely visual purpose.
I don't expect any bad reviews will keep people away from "Underworld: Awakening". It's an action-packed special effects extravaganza that many people will enjoy. It is the kind of film that can be as poorly written as it wants to without ever being boring. To call its thrills "cheap" would be an understatement, but at least they're still thrills.