It’s tough living in a post-Matrix climate. If you’re in the entertainment business, anyway. There is simply no other contemporary film that has been as influential to the action genre as The Matrix; the highly stylized action scenes, the tight leather ensembles and double-Uzi’s-backflips, ad nauseum. These are commonplace in today’s action films and seen as cliché, but back in 1999, ‘bullet-time’ was innovative, ‘wall-running’ was jaw-dropping and ‘characters doing 500 feet jumps’ was awe-inspiring.
Which brings me to Len Wiseman’s Underworld franchise, one of the more successful Matrix clones… and before you die-hard fans (not Die Hard fans) fly off the handle at that last remark, know that I happen to like the Underworld movies (despite its monochrome Art Direction). However, there is no denying the Matrix’s impact on the franchise. Let’s face it, the Underworld franchise is basically The Matrix with vampires and werewolves. But that doesn’t mean it’s bad. After all, they say if you have to steal, steal from the best.
But how many hour-and-a-half sessions can we sit through of a sexy British chick in black leather shooting up werewolves? Turns out, a lot.
Director: Måns Mårlind, Björn Stein
Release Date: January 20, 2012
The story of Underworld Awakening is a continuation from where Underworld Evolution left off. If you were expecting them to expand on the overly complex and intricate war between the vampires and the lycans, you’ll be sorely disappointed. Watch Rise of the Lycans if that’s what you want. This movie is about the future of all races involved and all that that implies. It takes place in the future where Selene wakes up after being cryogenically frozen for 12 years. She realizes her world has changed forever now that humans are “cleansing” the world of vampires and lycans. What’s worse? She has a kid… who’s a hybrid, like her dear Michael… whom she can’t find since they were separated 12 years ago.
Now, I’m not going to force you people to read through my entire review to get to what you need to know. Underworld Awakening is good. It’s got gore, it’s got gun fights, it’s got vampires and werewolves doing crazy acrobatics on cars… and it’s got a hot Kate Beckinsale once again donning her skin-tight leather suit—which is starting to feel less practical with every film. I mean, what’dya want; it’s Underworld. If you’ve watched the films that came before it (with exception for Rise of the Lycans, a bit of a one-off in style), you know the deal by now.
Most important of all, though, Underworld Awakening is entertaining… which is more credit than I was willing to give it walking into it. As I was saying before, it’s tough living in a post-Matrix climate. With every new action film that comes out, it becomes that much more difficult to amaze audiences with fight choreography and accompanying special effects. However, there’s still some untapped potential in the action genre left. I’m pleased to say that certain parts of the movie actually drew some ‘Damns,’ ‘Ooohs’ and ‘Wow’s from me, which is as big a compliment as I can give. Yeah, some of the action is stale or cliché in parts. Some of it you’ve even seen in videogames for the umpteenth time. But when the rising action crescendos in a climax, you’re left feeling very satisfied.
A major point I feel absolutely needs discussing is tone. The Underworld films in general have stumbled in this area since the characters are usually always emotionless drones spouting scriptural dialogue in the most monotonous of ways. This makes dialogue come off as ultra serious, which, in a movie like this, produces laughs. I’m sorry, but any movie about vampires in leather fighting off werewolves that takes itself too seriously is going to make me laugh. And I get that this is a race that was created before they invented emotions, or whatever, but it’s important for a film with a ridiculous premise to be able to laugh at itself, or else I’m going to do it for them.
After three sequels, you’d think the franchise would have run out of steam by now. Besides a few slip-ups in the story, some missed opportunities and some laughable moments, I enjoyed Underworld Awakening, and so can you if you walk in expecting to be simply entertained. I’m serious. Turn off your brain and you’ll have a good time. Also, they added yellow to the predominantly blue-hued color scheme, proving the franchise has grown by leaps and bounds over its predecessors.