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Overall Rating
1.73

Awesome: 0%
Worth A Look: 9.09%
Average: 18.18%
Pretty Bad: 9.09%
Total Crap63.64%

1 review, 5 user ratings


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Underworld Awakening
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by Peter Sobczynski

"Insert Tired Sleep-Related Joke Headline Here"
1 stars

There are many questions that one finds themselves asking after watching any of the "Underworld" films, the super-violent and super-silly action-horror epics centered on a centuries-old battle between vampires and werewolves, ranging for specific queries regarding the details of the storylines, which somehow manage to come across as both absurdly paper-thin and ridiculously convoluted to general questions about the life choices that one had made that has led them to voluntarily sitting down to see an "Underworld" film. For me, the films have always inspired one basic and fundamental question: "Why are these things so damned boring and unmemorable?" Look, these are films that offer up such seemingly irresistible visuals as vampires and werewolves pounding the crap out of each other and fabulous-looking babes decked out in sleek black leather outfits administering most of said crap-pounding and yet have somehow managed to so in such a dull and draggy manner that even though I know I have seen each and every one, I can barely remember anything about them other than their sheer lack of memorability. If there is anything to be said about "Underworld: Awakening," the latest entry in the franchise, it is that it is of a piece with its predecessors in that it is so devoid of anything even remotely of interest to all but the most easily entertained that it will also disappear from memory by the time you hit the parking lot, no doubt joining all the brain cells sacrificed during the previous 80 minutes

Having wisely sat out the previous entry, the pointless prequel "Underworld: Rise of the Lycans," Kate Beckinsale (having apparently discovered that this is pretty much these are the only films around where she gets to be the solo star) returns to the franchise as vampiric death-dealer Selene and after a brief-but-confusing prologue that desperately tries to bring viewers up to speed with the convoluted backstory, the story kicks off with her waking up in a strange lab after having been cryogenically frozen for the past 12 years. During that time, the once-secret war between vampires and werewolves somehow became public (possibly because of the way the two sides seemed to take out entire city blocks during their scuffles) and humans began eradicating both sides and driving the scattered remaining creatures into hiding underground. It turns out that she was busted out by a child named Eve (India Eisley) who--Spoiler Alert--turns out to be Selene's daughter and, thanks to her combined vampire/werewolf DNA, is just beginning to discover her awesome powers. These powers attract the interest of the remaining Lycans and it is up to Selene, along with the help of a hunky vampire (Theo James, in the kind of role that might normally filled by the likes of Cam Gigadent) and a human cop (Michael Ealy), to battle the various Lycans (including one jumbo-sized version), rescue Eve from their clawed clutches and uncover a massive conspiracy involving. . .no, no, I wouldn't dream of revealing it except to note that if you can't figure it out before Selene is thawed out, you may well be dopey enough to be part of the film's target audience of slack-jawed yokels.

"Underworld: Awakening" is one of those movies in which so much technical effort has been put forth to so little effect that it is a wonder that the cast and crew were able to summon up the inner strength and intestinal fortitude to return to the set day after day. The story is brief but pointless and so incredibly preposterous and ponderous that it feels like an exceptionally weak fan-fiction piece than a professionally-produced screenplay and the dialogue is so awful at times ("Yes, yes. . .your Lycan lover, long dead. . .") that it is a blessed relief that there are maybe 40-50 total lines in the whole film. The direction, by a duo of Swedish newcomers billed as Marlind & Stein, is clunky and devoid of energy, especially during the clumsily handled fight scenes (which will come across as especially amateurish to anyone who happens to see it right after catching the genuinely hair-raising "Haywire") and their use of 3D--already a questionable choice for a film that is set almost entirely in darkness as is--demonstrates the kind of questionable élan that is usually associated with the likes of Dr. Tongue. As for the performances, Beckinsale--never a particularly warm or empathetic actress even on her best days--somehow manages to come across as way too chilly and remote for her own good, which is funny since she is, after all, playing a recently thawed-out vampire. Among the other performers, the least impressive of the bunch is Stephen Rea as a scientist who has been working for years on a vaccine--he goes through the entire thing with the kind of excessively hangdog expression that you sometimes see on actors who have finally realized that Neil Jordan can only make so many movies and that they have to do something to keep dinner of the table.

By this point, some longtime readers may be wondering why I am coming down so hard on the "Underworld" franchise when I have made no bones in the past about my love of the strikingly similar "Resident Evil" series (the latest entry of which had a trailer attached to prints of "Underworld: Awakening" that by far the most entertaining part of the entire experience). Yes, both franchises tell increasingly implausible stories in which drooling CGI creature are dispatched at will by nimble little minxes in fetishistic fashions before ending with wild cliffhangers that seem more concerned with setting up follow-up installments than in concluding the current story. The difference between the two is that while both properties are complete nonsense, the "Resident Evil" films are at least willing to embrace their inherent ridiculousness to such an extent that they transcend their basic silliness and achieve some kind of lunatic pop-art nirvana.

The "Underworld" films, by comparison, are so drab and dour that whatever junky charm they might have possessed is slowly and excruciatingly drained away before our eyes and this one may be the most egregious of the sorry lot in this regard. In fact, there is only one moment that contains the kind of screw-loose ingenuity that the film so desperately needs--a bit where Selene shove her hand into the chest of another vampire in order to get his heart beating again and bring him back to life (which is odd, since a vampire is already technically dead and theoretically lacking a fully functioning heart in the first place). Spoiler alert--she succeeds and brings the lifeless hulk back to life. Too bad she couldn't do the same for the rest of the film.

link directly to this review at http://www.efilmcritic.com/review.php?movie=19718&reviewer=389
originally posted: 01/21/12 09:43:02
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User Comments

7/21/12 Sean Harrison Better than the second one, at least. 3 stars
6/18/12 mr.mike Pretty much non-stop action , and much easier to follow than some of the other entries. 4 stars
5/17/12 The Taitor Not as bad as the 3rd, however not that far from it 2 stars
2/06/12 M Only for Underworld fans. 3D was actually OK 3 stars
1/22/12 Velociraptor Stupid movie trying to be serious 1 stars
IF YOU'VE SEEN THIS FILM, RATE IT!
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USA
  20-Jan-2012 (R)
  DVD: 08-May-2012

UK
  N/A

Australia
  20-Jan-2012
  DVD: 08-May-2012




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