Movie Preview: Underworld: Awakening

By Michael Vass | September 14, 2011

So here is the problem – you have a series of films that has a huge fanbase, a character that is well liked, and a storyline featuring another main character that generally is useless. How do you continue that movie series?

The answer is Underworld: Awakening.

The 4th film in the scifi fantasy series of Vampires and Lycans (short for lycanthropes) picks up in the least expected place – the future. This film starts off some time after the 2nd film ends. [The third film was actually a prequel from a couple of hundred years in the past] The most popular character of the series, Selene (Kate Beckinsale) awakens in a laboratory. She was captured, we would expect along with Michael Corvin (Scott Speedman), and frozen for 12 years as scientists used her DNA for experiments both for the military and to compat the immortal species.

Yes, Selene quickly learns that the immortal races are no longer a secret. Nor are they able to maintain their financial and political power as they did in the first 2 films. In addition, Michael Corvin (the hybrid of Vampire and Lycan) is convienently gone – perhaps written off until the 5th film.

All of this is a lot to take in, but there is no time as Selene learns that the former Hunters are now the hunted. Humanity wants no part of the immortals, and an all out war has been declared. Humans are seeking to exterminate the immmortal races, even as the centuries old war – that was apparently finished with the death of all the vampire elders and Lucian (the first Lycan that could change form and the progenitor of the current Lycan race) – continues.

If this sounds a bit contrived and compressed, it is. The storyline was obviously retrofitted to write out Scott Speedman, and focus on the real star of the series, Beckinsale. Which you have to applaud the Hollywood execs for, they realized what the fans really liked and gave it to them. In the 3rd film it was a story focused on Michael Sheen as Lucian, now it’s Selene’s turn.

But the second film in the series created a lot of problems that need to be resolved in this film.

  • Who is leading the Vampires and the Lycans now that their centuries old leaders are dead?
  • Selene is no longer just a Vampire, having combined her blood successfully with Alexander Corvinus the original strain that created both races. It is completely unknown what her powers now are, though her strength is far more enhanced. Will the film remeber this?
  • Michael Corvin, the only hybrid of Lycan and Vampire known to exist, seemed virtually unstoppable. It was clear that nothing was known to be able to kill him, not silver or impaling his heart or the sun. He is also incredibly strong, and capable of super-human feats without transformation. How was he contained?
  • This film goes on to imply that the DNA from vampires, lycans, Selene and the hybrid Michael have been used in experiments – likely by the military to create some type of super-soldier to fight the other immortals. But how are these altered immortals controlled? How have the experiments changed them?

    Some of these questions are addressed, as it appears that Selene is walking around, unharmed in the twilight (either dawn or dusk). But there are so many plot holes to be covered. It is most likely that the events in the 2nd movie will be ignored or overlooked in the 4th film.

    Put it all together and you have a film that Hollywood is not really sure of. The film has been scheduled for a January 2012 release. The graveyard of films, and where the least likely to succeed films are disposed of.

    Given that the Underworld series of films has continued to be more of an cultish following than mass appeal movie series, the january release date does not mean the very worst for the film. But it doesn’t raise expectations either. perhaps when a few more trailers are around there will be more of an interest in this movie. While fans of the genre will be sure to see this, if only to see a non-Twillight vampire and werewolf, or to see Beckinsale in her well fitting rubber wear, the majority of movie-goers will miss this.

    See this in theaters with low expectations. Put it on par with Underworld: Evolution, and you may come out of the theater pleased.

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