Underworld: Awakening (2012)

Never mind the dialogue, check out the corsetry.
Never mind the dialogue, check out the corsetry.

“Vengeance Returns”

Directed by Måns Mårlind and Björn Stein
Starring Kate Beckinsale, Stephen Rea, Michael Ealy, Theo James and India Eisley

Following directly from the end of the previous movie, we open with a narrated montage to get rid of Scott Speedman’s character and accelerate the plot into the future, because fuck continuity; am I right?

Anyway, humanity finds out about the Lycans and the vampires and a purge begins under a militarised medical establishment led by Dr Jacob Lane (Rea). Selene (Beckinsale) and Michael are blown up and she wakes upside down in a cryonic tank twelve years later, collects her combat catsuit, battle corset and eight inch assault heels from a cupboard right beside the tank and murders her way out of the building to look for Michael. Instead, she finds a vampire named David (James) and a girl named Eve (Eisley) who turns out to be a hybrid, and her daughter.

They hide out with a vampire coven led by David’s father Thomas (Charles Dance), but when a pack of Lycans led by a giant mutant raids the safe house, Thomas hands Eve over, obliging Selene to head to the Lycan’s base (oh, they’re doubling as the anti-monster medical establishment, because suddenly the Lycans are the subtle, diabolical ones) and kill… pretty much everyone. There’s this cop (Ealy) who was married to a vampire until the purges and who helps her out when she approaches him because… Okay, I’m not sure how she even knew who he was, let alone that he’d be sympathetic.

What’s wrong with it?

First, that opening. The continuity leap is jarring, not just writing out Michael for the film, but the complete switch from the secret war to the purges.

Great swathes of the film are strung together by coincidence, beginning with the fact that in twelve years, no-one has ever sent Selene’s bitch boots down to storage.

The characterisation of the Lycans as, well, the Nazis persecuting the vampires-as-Jews is more a bizarre failure of continuity than a bold reversal of the power dynamic. It might have worked if we’d had more time to see something of the process, the rise of Lycan Hitler as it were, rather than just jumping from Lucian’s damn fool idealistic crusade to the vampire pogrom.

Detective Sebastian (I’m assuming that’s his surname, but it’s not entirely clear) is something of an outlier. Actually… I’m not really sure what he adds to the movie. Diversity? It’s a shame; I really liked Ealy in Almost Human.

The action is over the top and gory, but still uninvolving.

What’s right with it?

Okay, there are a couple of bits where they actually get a sense of the power of the non-human combatants, usually when they’re crashing into vehicles. It does make one wonder how humanity was supposed to have brought both races to the brink of extinction when Selene can take out legions of heavily armed Lycans without breaking a sweat.

How bad is it really?

Awakening is bad by the standards of the Underworld franchise. It’s a hot mess of corsets and gunfights… No, wait; that almost sounds good. It’s not; it’s terrible.

Best bit (if such there is)?

There’s an effective moment where Selene shoulder charges a moving van. It’s a good show of power, although since her daughter is in the van at the time, questionable action parenting.

What’s up with…?

  • Selene’s choice of combat attire? It really doesn’t look practical to fight with your waist corseted to a negative dress size, even without the towering heels.

Ratings

Production values – The effects are… decent, but they don’t really pop any more. It’s so relentless that it barely registers. 14
Dialogue and performances – Charles Dance is okay, I guess. 16
Plot and execution – Urgh… 17
Randomness – The film is held together by chance and supposition. 17
Waste of potential – Okay, this one is pretty tough, because the other films were poor, but this was still a new low. 12

Overall 76%

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