Underworld Awakening is the second sequel in the Underworld series, with Underworld: Rise of the Lycans being the prequel to the first film Underworld and Underworld: Evolution being the first sequel… Got it? Good.
I must confess that I still haven’t seen the third film at this point, even though I got the Blu-ray trilogy some time ago. I figured it must be worth a look, even though Kate Beckinsale (Love And Friendship) seemingly couldn’t be bothered to do another one at that point, which made me even more curious as to why she wanted to reprise the role… I guess she had a new tax bill arrive on her doorstep.
Okay, so let’s look at the plot. Well, I tried to find one. After a summary of the first two films at the start, for those who’ve missed them, we learn that six months pass and then all vampires and lycans are subject to “The Purge”, where the majority are wiped out, but after going to save Michael, Selene is captured and put in a cryogenic chamber along with one other specimen. Is it Michael? The smart money would be on him.
After 12 years, she thaws out, grabs her PVC outfit and kinky boots, notices that ‘Subject 2’, in the other container, isn’t Michael but is a young girl called Eve, and escapes this company known as AntiGen.
I could go into detail about how things work after that, but the plot of Underworld Awakening seems like a million films we’ve all seen before. Selene takes Eve under her wing – for reasons that will become apparent as you watch it, protecting her from the enemy – so, rather like Aliens with Ripley and Newt.
Plot is second to none… I mean, erm… next to none, as there’s even one of those godawful plot devices I hate most of all when a loyal worker of one of the main baddies could easily be let free, but no, they have to bump them off when there’s no need. That’s such a cop-out.
Elsewhere in the cast we have Stephen Rea slapping on the Grecian 2000 to play grumpy Dr Jacob Lane, who runs AntiGen, there’s the permanently bewildered-looking Michael Ealy from the underrated and should-have-run-to-more-than-two-seasons Sleeper Cell as cop Detective Sebastian, who soon works out that whereas vampires are normally bad, Selene’s a good guy, so to speak, and so she can be trusted and he has to take her side; Charles Dance grunts along as main baddie Thomas – albeit not being anywhere near as good as he has been in the past when playing an evil role; and Theo James as David, a fellow vampire, who Selene bumps into while following the path seemingly set up by the visions she’s having since coming back from the land of nod.
The first two films were reasonably well put together, but all Underworld Awakening has going for it is Kate in her outfit and a decent number of action scenes which are loud, bloody and in 3D and give you a laugh at least. For home viewing, for most of us, the 3D effect will be lost and it’s going to be a bit of a disappointment.
Not all of the film was in 3D, however. There was the occasional talking moment between two characters which was plainly in two dimensions but if you take your glasses off, the screen looks all blurry as a result so you still have to keep them on.
Roll on Underworld 5. They’re never brilliant, nor essential, but they’re pretty entertaining.
One point I’ll make, and this was the second time in several years that I’ve been to the Odeon at the Printworks in Manchester, is that whereas the screen was a 1.85:1 ratio and showed some trailers in a letterboxed 2.35:1 ratio, where I expected the screen to ‘widen’ as the film was about to start – as cinemas often tend to do at that point – the screen stayed the same, so the film looked ‘letterboxed’ throughout. Sure, it was the right ratio, but it just all felt wrong.
Presented in the original 2.35:1 theatrical ratio and in 1080p high definition, the picture is crisp and clear, doing great justice to the CGI and action scenes. I can’t say it looks bright and colourful because this film isn’t about “bright and colourful”, it’s dark and moody and that comes across perfectly.
The sound is in 7.1 DTS-HD Master Audio, for which I got the 5.1 DTS version and it’s explosions, gunfire and more explosions. Good fun throughout on that score.
There’s a decent selection of extras for Underworld Awakening, which are as follows:
- Featurettes: Five here, starting with Selene Rises (12:15), which sets the scene as clips are mixed in with chat from all the key cast and crew, with everyone talking about how Kate Beckinsale embodies the character of the heroine, jumping back into it for the first time in 6 years and getting straight back into the action.
The Cast (12:34) goes into all the key cast members, Resuming The Action (8:52) discusses the action scenes and then there’s Awakening A Franchise, Building Brutal a New World (18:55), where they talk about using a camera which can film in 120fps and in 3D, which I found curious as it looked like a film which was shot in 2D and converted in post-production.
Finally, Building A Better Lycan (10:21) looks at improving the costumes.
- Previsualisation Sequences: CGI-Storyboard sequences for six of them here, all looking like the opening of an early ’90s videogame, starting with an Alternate Opening Sequence (5:24), three Antigen Attack segments (2:13, 3:47 and 5:59), Car chase (1:45) and Coven Fight (1:52). The latter three segments all have 3D options.
- Blooper reel (3:23): Does what it says on the tin, including an amusing clip of two Lycans having sex.
- “Heavy Prey” music video (3:26): The video for the song by Lacey Sturm from Flyleaf, featuring Geno Lenardo, also filmed on-set, which adds a nice touch.
- Previews: Oddly there’s no trailers for this film, but there are for The Grey, Piranha 3DD and Lockout.
The menu features film clips with the theme in the background, there are subtitles in English only, but sadly there’s a lack of chapters with a mere 12 over the 89-minute running time. What is it with studios and their love of just TWELVE paltry chapters?
Running time: 89 minutes
Released: May 14th 2012
Cat no: EBR5183
Picture: 1080p High Definition
Sound: 7.1 DTS-HD Master Audio, DTS 5.1, Dolby Digital 5.1
Widescreen: 2.35:1 (Redcode RAW (5K) (dual-strip 3-D))
Disc Format: BD50
Directors: Måns Mårlind and Björn Stein
Producers: Gary Lucchesi, Tom Rosenberg, Len Wiseman and Richard S. Wright
Screenplay: Len Wiseman, John Hlavin, J. Michael Straczynski and Allison Burnett
Music: Paul Haslinger
Selene: Kate Beckinsale
Dr. Jacob Lane: Stephen Rea
Detective Sebastian: Michael Ealy
David: Theo James
Eve: India Eisley
Lida: Sandrine Holt
Thomas: Charles Dance
Reviewer of movies, videogames and music since 1994. Aortic valve operation survivor from the same year. Running DVDfever.co.uk since 2000. Nobel Peace Prize winner 2021.