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    January 21, 2012

    MOVIE REVIEW: UNDERWORLD: AWAKENING

    UNDERWORLD: AWAKENING (18)

    Genre: Action/Adventure/Science Fiction/Horror
    Release Date: 19 January 2012
    Running Time: 88 minutes
    Distributor: Sony Pictures
    Director: Måns Mårlind , Björn Stein
    Screenplay: Len Wiseman, John Hlavin, J. Michael Straczynski, Allison Burnett, Kevin Grevioux with story by Lens Wiseman
    Starring: Kate Beckinsale, Stephen Rea, Michael Ealy, Theo James, India Eisley, Sandrine Holt

    Plot: Kate Beckinsale, star of the first two films, returns in her lead role as the vampire warrioress Selene, who escapes imprisonment to find herself in a world where humans have discovered the existence of both Vampire and Lycan clans, and are conducting an all-out war to eradicate both immortal species. REVIEWS AFTER THE JUMP
    Review:  With the release of ‘Awakening’, where would this franchise move next and more importantly, how does it fare among the abundance of vampire-related entertainment series of this age? For most part of my life, ‘Underworld’ franchise is the perfect illustration about how vampires and werewolves battled it out for centuries in a deep share-rooted history back to the fifth century AD; not some ‘Twilight’. I believe that with the release of ‘Underworld: Awakening’, we are heading towards a new trilogy or chapter in the series. I may not be the biggest fan of ‘Underworld’ but I certainly would choose this over the other teenage-fuelled ravage vampire franchises.


    In ‘Underworld: Awakening’, the human finally makes an unpleasant discovery on the existence of the two races – the vampire and the Lycan. Sensing them as a threat, the human launches a war against them but in just matter of days; the human race has gained the upper hand that eventually leads to extermination of both races. With the death of the vampire elders and leaders of the Lycans in the preceding events, the lost seems imminent for both of the races. Selene (Kate Beckinsale) and Michael (Scott Speedman) decide to flee but were quickly apprehended by the authorities and is both held captive by the Antigen – a human-run laboratory that conduct research on ways to kill both species. One day, in a chaotic incident, Selene escapes her cryogenic imprisonment only to find herself in a world she no longer familiar with. But, she is not alone.

    The first five or ten minutes of the movie serves a mediocre effort to try to explain the back-story from the first two instalments – doing some neat thread-spinning but still convoluted summary to begin the movie. Then, the movie makes no turning back - instead doing what it should do best – an ass-kicking movie with plenty of gory violence and horror sequence. Just like its predecessors, ‘Awakening’ never fail to relive its promise of providing some top-notch, fast and excellent portrayal of epic and well-choreographed action sequences. There are also plenty of blood-splashing moments with huge amount of CG been devoted for re-enactment of the story when any other creatures (read Lycan) are involved. Action fans would love how it goes but if you are a story-orientated kind of person, there are some doubts that would be understandable.


    All at once, I thought the story could be a little subpar. It is tireless but too repetitive to start off with. Lens Wiseman leads a pack of writers, turning this into a rather less-provocative but straight-forward story that sets forward in the near future. When the action kicks in, it rocks. When there aren’t actions to stand, there’s a heavy political-dialogue exchange going on. Needless to say, probably due to the short running time, ‘Awakening’ is less condensed with forward story as it takes time to look around before start heading north again. Simply to say, ‘Awakening’ is not only about Selene and Michael since we have no credible leaders heading the two tribes, but it goes around collecting materials that could obviously paved ways for sequels.

    Fortunately, ‘Underworld: Awakening’ is still a satisfying instalment in the long running series and could well be the best in the franchise so far. As much of the lack of proper story, ‘Awakening’ is more of like a small setup to a bigger plan in the future. The plot in ‘Awakening’ strongly reflects the stunning return for Selene and picked up the events that follow years after ‘Evolution’. Of course, unlike the first three instalments which have a sense of dark mythological discovery plus the abundance of gothic style displays, this fourth one is heading to a different direction and serve creatively as an expansion. Here and there, ‘Awakening’ chunks in a wholesome decent set-up in what looks like a continuous three-way war between the vampire, the Lycan and the human. With less mythology to explore, ‘Awakening’ adapts the ‘Resident Evil’ approach of more explosion than talking.


    In the end of the day, ‘Underworld Awakening’ is ultimately a satisfying instalment that propels for more sequels due to its decent setup and its potential to expand. It may be well lack in story and becoming repetitive; but it equally gives out a credible tireless round-up, working more like a ‘Resident Evil’ movie with more well-choreographed sequence and less mythological talking. If you are watching this in 3D, I would say the experience is mediocre at best but worthwhile. Otherwise, go for 2D instead.

    MY RATING:
    Story: 3.5
    Casts: 3.5
    Cinematography: 4.0
    Effects: 4.0
    GREEN-TEA-O-METER: 14.2/20.0
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