on 21 May 2012
The previous installments in the Underworld franchise have been excellent, vastly entertaining, action packed and imaginative. Though this series is constantly being slated by critics it remains ever popular and from this latest installment its easy to see why. Kate Beckinsale returns for a fourth time and slips back into that leather suit as if she's never even taken it off. This time round the writers have decided to reduce the mythology aspect of the films (a shame) and have instead focused on kicking off a whole new era to the Underworld series set in the future real world. Perhaps this change of period and world is what makes this installment somewhat weaker than its predecessors. There is a defenite lack of character and the film is so short (just an hour and fifteen minutes) that there is barely enough time to develop any sort of understanding of the characters. Kate Beckinsale is awesome as Selene and Charles Dance has fun in a very Bill Nighy like role. As for the rest of the cast they are very much forgettable.
The direction is stylish, the action scenes well staged and the visuals, whilst somewhat weaker than previous installments, are good enough.
Overall this film is nowhere near as good as Underworld and Underworld Evolution and seems way to rushed and short. It feels more like the first hour or so of a film and then it just ends, perhaps paving the way for inevitable sequels. If you're a fan of the franchise, don't miss it, this film is cool and action packed but the lycans are vastly underused, as are the vampires and without the myhtology and the otherworldly setting of the previous three its a very different Underworld.
This is a two disc edition with some great features. Severeal featurettes, a commentary etc. Worthwhile if you're a fan.
The fourth film in the Underworld series really is for fans only and by now you either are a fan or you're not. If you are a fan there's plenty to enjoy here in this very silly very trashy film. Underworld Rise Of The Lycans, the third film was a prequel showing how the war between the vampires and werewolves started and Kate Beckinsale's Selene was only in a short scene at the start and end of the film so this takes place after the second film. Humans are now aware of the existence of the war between vampires and werewolves and are hunting both sides. Selene now has a daughter that is being experimented on in a lab run by government agents lead by Stephen Rea and there is a new vampire king played by Charles Dance while Selena's lover Michael is missing. Some excellent action scenes and a good cast keep it all watchable and fun just don't take any of it seriously and you should enjoy. If you have never seen the first three films you can easily keep up with the plot and this is the best in the series since the original film. A fifth film is inevitable.
Okay, for those of you still wondering what Underworld is all about... it's about a war between gun-totting fit female vampires in tight clothes and big ugly werewolves. So, if you've seen any of the first ones and liked them. Then watch this. You'll like this too.
If, on the other hand, you think that women in spandex leaping off buildings while firing twin pistols at a monster that, deep down, you know has been added post production via computer is a pretty dumb premise - steer well clear.
Luckily, I enjoyed the first three and loved this one too.
Twelve years after Selene's last battle, humans have only gone and figured out that vamps and werewolves are real and hunted every last one of them down (apart from the ones they missed). Selene's been frozen in ice and studied, but, luckily, she gets woken up by... you'll have to watch the film and see. But, anyway, she's more than a little cranky and being prodded while in ice by humans in lab coats for over a decade. Luckily for her (and us I guess) she's defrosted right next to her famous black slinky costume and quickly puts it on and goes to express her disgust with humanity by a strongly-worded blog and some scathing tweets (only joking, she grabs the nearest knife and gun and starts piling up the bodies).
Oh, and it's 3D this time. My only gripe. The 3D was even more pointless than every other 3D film that's designed purely to make you spend more money.
From reading other reviews the general consensus is `more of the same.' And I can't add to that. It is. There's not a lot new here and some have criticised it for not adding to the overall story enough, but, what the hell, it's still fun and Kate Beckinsale is still gorgeous. They could make a film about vampires in spandex sitting there blowing their noses for ninety minutes and I'd watch it if Kate was in it. Biased. Yes, probably.
Bottom line - this film may be the forth instalment of the Underworld franchise, but it's still head, shoulders and biteable neck over the Resident *yawn* Evil films.
Underworld: Awakening is the fourth instalment in the Underworld series. It follows on neatly from the last, showing us a world where humans successfully hunt & suppress Vampires & Lycan populations - officially the word is that Lycans are extinct and vampires are pretty much wiped out. Waking up from cryo-stasis-type-deal, Selene (Kate Beckinsale) has been out cold for 12 years and the world has changed into an authoritarian state (think Libria from Equilibrium) but, thanks to the Corvinus strain, she is plagued by visions from another's eyes - Subject 2 - her liberator with whom she shares a unique connection.
The Lycans want Subject 2 at any cost, will Selene manage to keep her safe from them and work out why she is so important?
Firstly, if you are not familiar with the Underworld Trilogy then this probably isn't the best place to start - despite being the highest budget ($70m) and highest grossing ($131m) of the quartet. For those familiar with the concept, you know the drill by now; guns, leather coats, spandex, blood-drinking and overly-muscled wolves.
Secondly, this film seems to have been written around the wardrobe department. We see Selene wake up from a secure 12-year-long-stasis and her clothes are right next to her chamber. Did they decide to keep them there just in case she woke up and needed to escape in a rush?? She falls to the floor in a fog of liquid nitrogen that allows her to assume the most glamour-model position possible as she lays on the floor. Then, the next scene freshly & fully dressed, she breaks into a separate clothes-shop for a coat (she's a vampire - as in, doesn't feel the cold!?) but boy, does that coat make cool swooping shapes when you are jumping off roof after roof.
Then there is a car chase, where Selene manages to find the only van in the city old enough to start by jamming a knife into the ignition, but turbo-charged enough to out-run sprinting quadrupeds 5 yards after a 90-degree turn. Even when they catch up, we are given no reason as to why Selene & co. were running in the first place as it appears they can kick Lycan butt with literally no effort as Selene is Supervampire (I'm thinking of trademarking that). The only plot mechanism they can possibly throw in after that revelation is Superwerewolf (not quite as catchy) and there's your finale.
And also, I feel the need to tell director Måns Mårlind, that spraying random letter-number combinations (e.g. "U-7") onto concrete walls does not make an entire dystopian city. Most of the scenes take place in the same/extremely-similar underground car-park & alleyways. Even when it is obvious this is meant to be a different part of the city, there is cringe-worthy prop-recycling (the same dumpster in every alley). At one-point, the vamps tool up in a silver-weapons locker with a big chemical symbol diamond on the door; "Ag 190" it reads. Silver's atomic number is 47, not 190. Or were there 190 silver storage rooms in this underground car-park city? Expensive.
Anyhow, apologies for whinging at length. I just wanted to point out that this film just feels half-assed - like they've got the structure established and developed all the characters and this is just another money-spinner in the franchise. There is literally not one-part of the sets, plot or costume that has had any thought spent on it. The plot is even lifted from F.E.A.R. with flashbacks through another's eyes - also named Subject 2. It's unimaginative (a little girl in a vampire film - Is there anything more cliché?) and Måns Mårlind pulls bad-guys out of thin-air to propagate the plot. Acting is an acceptable standard for most involved (anybody else think Theo James is a dead-ringer for James Franco?) and the direction, CGI on the Lycans and special effects are brilliant.
So all in all, this is just more of the same from Underworld, missing a couple of the major characters (Michael) and it's only 88 minutes long which includes the 14 minutes of credits. I'm opening myself up to get destroyed by the Underworld fanboys but I hope this helps make up your mind on whether it's worth spending your hard earned cash on this!!
Underworld: Awakening sees the return of the vampire warioress, Selene, in a world where humans have discovered the existence of both the vampire and the lycan race and have set out to destroy them both. Selene is captured by the humans and frozen in ice whilst the humans conduct tests on her, but when she is mysteriously freed from the ice, she realises that 12 years have passed and she has a daughter, Eve, a hybrid. Clearly Eve is the daughter of Selene and Michael, but Selene has no idea where Michael is or if he's even alive. There is something strange at work and things aren't all they seem - the lycan/vampire war continues.
What I immediately liked about this film was that they had brought the Underworld series to the modern times and it was set in 21st century reality. At first I thought that this meant that this film would be different and unique to the others; however, its not long before you realise that in fact, its the same old story. I had read many, many bad reviews of this film prior to watching it but I thought I'd give it a shot anyway since I quite enjoyed its predecessors. The thing that let this film down the most was the plot. For the most part of the movie, I was wondering why on earth it had received such bad reviews. I mean, it wasn't brilliant, but it wasn't that bad either. It wasn't until I reached the end of the film when I realised that there had basically been no plot. I did not understand the purpose of the film of what any of the character motives were and by the end of the film you don't really feel like you've actually gone anywhere. Vampire, Selene, discovers that she's a mother but never seems to display any true maternal feelings. There is little character building and the relationship with Selene and her daughter is never developped. There are some old characters as well as new characters, but it is never really clear what their purposes are. There is a cliffhanger at the end, but instead of filling you with a sense of anticipation and longing to find out what happens next, you just feel annoyed that the film has been cut short.
Apart from the occasional bone crunching, I really didn't find this film particularly disturbing - at least, not disturbing enough for this to qualify as a 'horror' film. I was quite surprised to find that this was rated as an '18', because I also didn't feel like there were many scenes that would have been particularly disturbing to those under eighteen, perhaps '15' would have been a better age certificate. There are some fairly gory scenes, but there aren't enough of these, and they aren't gory enough, for this to be deemed 'scary'. Not to mention the fact that some of the CGI effects are terrible, but if you're the sort of person who finds the sight of spurting ketchup disturbing, then sure, call this a horror film. On the other hand, this film is also defined as an 'action' film, and this is a much better description because there is quite a lot of meaningless fighting but cool stunts and action sequences.
I don't think that the acting is particularly bad in this film, though it is really difficult to say give that the rest of the set up was so bad. Kate Beckinsale performs just as she did in the previous films, though, I have to say, she is definitely does not play a motherly character well. I don't know if this is Selene or Kate Beckinsale's fault but none of the emotions she displayed towards her daughter seemed all that affectionate or caring. India Eisley, who plays Eve, Selene's daughter, does quite a good job of acting the confused and abandoned child; however, again, it is difficult to appreciate this given the random things Eve does and she comes across as a foolish child fawning for a mother's attention.
This film isn't all that bad; however, the lack of development of the plot/characters makes it hard to praise it. I would recommend this to fans of the Underworld series, given that the other films received similarly bad reviews, though people still seemed to enjoy them. If you're new to the Underworld series, then I wouldn't recommend starting with this film as it doesn't really capture the essence of what the series is really about. Unless if you just want to see Kate Beckinsale in tight lycra for one and half hours, I'd give this one a miss.
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on 17 May 2012
The humans have "noticed" the vampires and lycans and are quite reasonably annoyed that they've been milking us for blood for centuries. A pogrom ensues and the few surviving undead have gone underground. Selene and Michael have been captured and have been in deep freeze for over a decade. Selene escapes, but who let her go? And why?
And so we arrive at part 4 of the Underworld franchise. A new production team but no new ideas. Let's start with the bad and move onto the good...
Plot? there ain't none. There's a back-story and the story-boarders were clearly very busy bees, but there's no >story<. The cast run around a lot, look gorgeous or gross (depending on species) but no-one is really achieving much or going anywhere. Well, I guess you don't pick something like Underworld up at the video store after thinking "Hmm, a good, complex story with twists, turns, chicanery and divers alarums and excursions is what I REALLY want tonight..." but they could have made an effort couldn't they? The first two Underworlds had plot; tensions, surprises and so-on - complexity, however simplistic... how hard can it be?
Really though, Awakening is a vehicle. A vehicle for two things - the lovely Kate and some quite astonishing quantities of gore. That brings us to the good. Kate Beckinsale certainly is easy on the eye. Her skintight PVC uniform returns, and she certainly knows how to use it: her moves are familiar (if a tad... predictable); leaping from buildings, swirling of leather greatcoats, straining of bodices and gussets. For those of you who prefer good looking fellas? Well I'm hardly qualified to comment but this is a bloke flick so you ladies will have to make do with Theo James, because Stephen Rea and Charles Dance (doing a creditable, if unimaginative Bill Nighy impression) probably won't ring too many bells and a digitally projected Scott Speedman spends most of his screen-time upside-down in a fridge.
The gore... oh the gore. There's nothing subtle about Underworld Awakening. The previous episodes were bloody, but Awakening turns it up to 11, with head-shots, decapitations and the traumatic (and often manual) removal of critical organs. Even Selene's sweet, 12 year old daughter (and that barely counts as a spoiler, I can assure you) gets in on the act, ripping lycans in half down the medial line and so-on. OK, so it's a vampire/werewolf flick and we should expect stuff like this. It's fine. I can enjoy a good, brutalising evisceration like any normal person, but it does get a little... indecent? Desensitising? Dare I say it... unimaginative?
So there you go. More of the same (as a fellow reviewer has already said). I truly loved the first, enjoyed the second and was disappointed by the third. I think, for all its faults, Awakening is still a good gore fest, undead actioner, excellent for a Friday or Saturday night after coming home from the pub and it falls somewhere between its predecessors. Good but not great. Acceptable but not aspirational. I'll give it 3 stars. I'd like to give it 4, but I think 3 is the best I can do at the moment.
This is a 2 disc edition and the second has the usual line up of extras that I haven't yet got around to watching (or even listing). I shall remedy that at the soonest opportunity.
on 7 June 2012
Now Ill freely admit Ive got a massive soft spot for the Underworld movies,Ive loved all previous three,from the (occasionaly) barmy dialogue to the ludicrously over the top action sequences.Each one,though the third one wasnt quite as good,has served up plenty of gore and action,which at the end of the day is all we want really.Theres no deep and meaningful storyline,it doesnt use the premiss to draw conclusions on the human condition,its just Vampires and Werewolves beating the living crap out of each other.This fourth installment,Im happy to say,delivers the goods once again.
Set in a future where humans have not only discovered,but almost wiped out both Vampires and Werewolves.Selene(Kate Beckinsale)escapes from cryogenic suspension,and goes on the run in this now alien world,but is drawn to a strange girl with remarkable powers.The story makes sence,within the genre that is,and serves its purpose very well.Drivng things from once action sequence to another,while providing enough depth inbetween them for it all to hang together.Your not going to get deep and meaningful in this kind of film,its not about that,its about action,spectacle and thrills.I know a lot of people have picked holes in the storyline(dont know why cause there are holes big enough to drive a bus through)and said that it only works on the one level,but it doesnt need to work on more than one level.Its an action film,with a horror/fantasy twist,and as long as it delivers that its doing its job.Once again Kate Beckinsale holds everything together with a strong performance,and doesnt let the effects overshadow her,unlike a few others.And as good an actor as he is,Charles Dance is no Bill Nighy,and doesnt really convince in his role as a Vampire elder.Yes it is flawed in a few palces,but all I can say is I loved every minute of it,and I was entertained from start to finish,and I cant ask a film to do more than that.
on 18 May 2012
Lets get straight down to business, as far as the film goes it is more of the same, if thats your cuppa then great if not, sorry not gonna find anything ground breaking that will bring you into the series in this one.
Being a fan of the series I loved it, went into it expecting to be disappointed but was genuinely surprised to find out it wasn't just a cash in as far as story etc goes, the action is great, effects are decent and well what can I say it's just refreshing for a vampire/werewolf movie not to suck and be about poorly constructed love triangles, in a world where it appeared that we were heading for it to be common place for vampires to be pale gary glitters and werewolves to be as cuddly as a hamster this series has come back into the fray to show them how its done!
Only real thing I find that's lacking here is firstly an amazing story, this films one is good but its just there to carry the film really not engage you with an intelligent plot twist or anything but as I said as a device for getting from fight A to fight B it does the trick and even does a decent enough job of making the final encounter keep you invested and somewhat heavily rooting for the main characters for a reason other than these are the good guys I hope they win if you get me, this brings me to my second point, this definitely feels like the set up to the next underworld film, as I said before the the plot is decent enough but it just feels like its setting the stage for the final climactic film in the series and you kinda get the sense that if the writers did in fact have any intelligent plot twists or unique ideas they have kept it from being in this one for the next film but there are the seeds of some cool ideas in here like the shift in powers between vamps and werewolves in contrast to where both sides were in the first film, the potential cost of sentimentality etc but all of them are to be fully explored.
All in all though I very much enjoyed this film and whilst it isn't an instant classic it should do enough to satisfy fans of the series, and does has a few memorable moments (like evolutions helicopter blade scene) this one definitely worth your time, but as I said I hope they are saving all potential awesome pieces of the plot for a final climactic ending to the series as it would be a shame for all of these issues to have only been lightly skimmed over and not explored into further depth.
on 17 May 2012
First of all I must admit that I am a huge fan of this franchise and so can't really give a review for ppl that have never watched any of these movies, as I am sucked into that fictional world already. For the ppl that haven't seen any of these movies I would just recommend to watch the first ones and make up your mind yourself if you are into this genre and world or not. It would also be better to understand this movie as it does build further on it.
When I read alot of these reviews most of the ppl say the storyline is rubbish and unworthy for the franchise. All I can say to you guys is, I respect your opinion but what on earth did you expect? Underworld has never really had a brilliant storyline. Yes the first one had quit the story but it was the first one and everything was new, the world , the characters, the way things were done. So alot of story was told in that one to put the franchise on the map. Underworld has always been about Kate or Rhona Mitra (in the 3th one)looking good, a story filled with action and that is what ppl loved the most. Anyone that says they only watch the movies because of the brilliant and deep story are watching different movies... and if you are looking for a vampire thing with a brilliant story I would say go and watch True blood, alot of twists and interesting characters.
Now about this movie. In my opinion it did deliver most of what was promised. Action wise it has never been better, the kills just gave me OMG moments, overall it looks better ( especially on Blu-ray). The story as said before isn't really like story of the year, but it's not as bad as alot of ppl say. It won't keep you on the edge of your seat but It won't give you a feeling like, really that again neither? ( like alot of action movies do these days). There are actually some moments that will surprise you... .
Why did I not give it a 5? It's short, really really short, wich was bit disappointing, it's about 79 minutes runtime, although it says 89 minutes on the box, but the last 10 minutes are just the credits. The first one was over 2 hours and it's getting shorter and shorter, so a movie with this kind of budget should have had a longer duration. This can be turned around to be a good thing by saying it was good enough that I wanted more but I don't accept it like that.
In short: If you like the underworld series because of what it is, a relative good story, packed with loads of amazing action and Kate looking better then ever before, then you will like this movie. If on the other hand you only liked the first underworld cause that had alot of story to it, cause of reasons mentioned above, then you might not really like this movie and you should probably just rent it.
Thanks for reading and don't be afraid of the lower rated reviews, everyone should make up his/her own mind. Reviews are just a guidance...
Side note: The extras on the blu-ray version:
2) featurettes: Selene Rises, Resuming the Action, Awakening a Franchise: building a brutal new world, Building a better Lycan
3) Music video (Heavy Prey)
4) Previsualization sequences (videogame style)
5) Filmmakers's commentary on / off
on 17 May 2012
I went into this expecting to really not to enjoy it and for it to drop the ball. It didn't do that at all and pretty much as soon as the movie started I was gripped and I knew that nothing was wrong. The film picks up from the end of Evolution, you don't need to see the others as a full re-cap is given at the beginning. From the get go, we are treated to excellent action sequences and a great visual style (which all the Underworld films have had). Kate is back and it's really great to see her in a new Underworld movie after it being 6 years since Evolution. She's just as good as ever and still can kick butt.
The plot is very good and although it's not as deep as the first 3 films, by the end of it you feel satisfied that there was a story and quite an interesting one too. Once again, I had no faith in these two new directors directing a new Underworld movie but the heart of this movie is the action and that's pulled off really well. It moves at a good pace and you don't feel bored. I liked all the new characters they introduced, especially Detective Sebastian. There are sequences in this movie that really, really impressed on the level of Underworld 1, Evolution and Rise of the lycans. Don't read on if you want to be spoiled.
There's a great scene later on in the film, in which we get to see Selene out in the daylight for the first time in an Underworld movie. Obviously, as we all know after taking the blood of the first true Vampire Alexander Corvinus, she is a day-walker now. That scene just made my day when I saw it, something I'd wanted to see for so long and it had been finally done. The sets and the look of it are top notch, I love how they did the new world. It looks really cool, if you're interested in how they did it watch the special features on Disc 2.
Overall: 8/10= Very fun and action packed installment. Although, not quite up there with the first 3 films it's much better than I expected and a good time. Those who enjoyed the previous installments, i'm sure you'll enjoy this.