out of Five
Running time: 88
Underworld: Awakening makes a decent attempt at rebooting the franchise by side-lining the complex mythology and getting back to basics, but the characters are dull, the fight scenes are unexceptional and the appeal of Kate Beckinsale in her latex catsuit can only stretch so far.
What's it all about?
Co-directed by Måns Marlind and Björn Stein, Underworld: Awakening (3D) is the fourth instalment in the underwhelming Underworld franchise. Kate Beckinsale (who skipped the third movie) returns to the series as gun-toting, latex-clad Lycan-slaying vampire Selene, who has a penchant for jumping off tall buildings. While searching for her hybrid lover Michael Corvin (Scott Speedman, who doesn't appear in the film), Selene is captured and put into cryogenic sleep. When she awakes 12 years later, she discovers that humans have discovered the existence of vampires and werewolves and have dedicated themselves to wiping out both races.
On top of that, Selene is shocked to learn that she has a powerful hybrid daughter (India Eisley as Subject 2), who's just escaped from the clutches of sinister scientist Dr Jacob Lane (Stephen Rea). With the help of a kindly detective (Michael Ealy) and a fellow vampire (Theo Lane), Selene tries to track down her daughter before Lane can recapture her, but she has reckoned without Lane's secret weapon: a genetically mutated, super-powerful Hulk-like werewolf named Quint (Kris Holden-Ried, who bears a striking resemblance to Coldplay's Chris Martin).
The aesthetic appeal of Kate Beckinsale leaping around in a latex catsuit cannot be denied, though her character is almost all surface and she's not really given much to do in the way of actual acting. On the plus side, the film makes an admirable attempt to get back to basics by stripping away all the tedious Vampire/Lycan mythology that bogged down the previous films and there's a mildly subversive touch in that Selene is killing innocent humans yet we're still on her side (though the film fails to explore that idea in any detail).
The main problem is that the film basically just gathers all the characters together and chucks them at each other in a series of competent but not very interesting fight scenes, whilst ignoring character development, story and other potentially interesting ideas.
Similarly, the characters are painfully underwritten and the dialogue is at best perfunctory and at worst downright dismal. The 3D doesn't really add anything either.
While not exactly unwatchable, the half-hearted script ensures that
Underworld: Awakening never quite comes together, despite some potentially interesting ideas. That said, its recent box office success means that there'll almost certainly be an Underworld 5.
Underworld: Awakening (R16)