September 16, 2012

Underworld: Awakening (2012)

"When human forces discover the existence of the Vampire and Lycan clans, a war to eradicate both species commences. The vampire warrioress Selene leads the battle against humankind."

Apart from creating the opportunity to ogle Kate Beckinsale, I've never understood the appeal of the "Underworld" movies. The plots are weak, the mainly blue and black colour schemes are annoying, and the CGI always looks like something out of a computer game.

Thus, I wasn't expecting a lot from the latest installment, "Underworld: Awakening", which was just as well since it turned out to be only more of the same but with two extra colours added to the palette. Golden lights and more human flesh tones abound, even though it was, yet again, mainly all in blue and black. There's even a lot of blood this time which almost completed a reworking of the old newspaper or dead penguin joke about being "black and blue, and red all over".

True to form, the best part of the movie is Kate Beckinsale, who manages to get completely naked at one point without showing any of the bits which the boys want to see. She's so thin and flat-chested that I don't really think there'd be all that much to see there anyway. She's coming up to forty years old now so the appeal of seeing a nude middle-aged woman isn't that great even if it's Kate Beckinsale. I'm sure she's still got a couple more "Underworld" movies left in her before she has to start playing mothers for the rest of her career though.

You're fooling nobody with that old NES Zapper, Selene.

In spite of not really having a story which goes anywhere or any characters other than the regulars whose names are spoken enough times to know who they are, the action sequences are top-notch this time. The opening escape sequence from the Antigen building is the best, although several of the fights with Lycans are quite spectacular too considering that the Lycans are generated by a computer and Selene's weapons can magically reload themselves. You have to forget any attempts at realism with these "Underworld" movies anyway.

A couple of once big names, Stephen Rea and Charles Dance, join in the fun and games this time, but only Stephen Rea has much of a part. He's pretty good in it too. The barely recognisable Charles Dance is only a kind of substitute for Bill Nighy, since he's from that age group of actors and they look a bit similar to each other now. If you've ever wondered if all old people end up looking the same, your question has been answered.

"Underworld: Awakening" is mainly a comicbook-style action movie which just happens to have vampires and werewolves as the main characters. I don't really think of any of the "Underworld" series as being true horror films any more than I would count "Resident Evil" or "Twilight" as being anything other than very fringe members of the genre.

I'm not sure who the target audience is meant to be for "Underworld: Awakening", but the inclusion of a hybrid vampire/werewolf child suggests that this was meant for children who like to identify with the younger characters. I don't get how that is supposed to work as, bizarrely, the whole series has been R-rated from the beginning. None of the "Underworld" movies have ever felt like they were meant for adults (or even older teenagers with any taste) so I'm at a loss to explain how "Underworld" managed to reach this third sequel. From the way it ended, I'm pretty sure that there will be another sequel eventually too.

Even though sexy Selene is the most badass that she's ever been, I'm still going to have to put "Underworld: Awakening" back to sleep in "The Dungeon". Personal taste aside, it just isn't a very good film.

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