I have been a fan of the "Underworld" series since the very first film, and have looked forward to each and every outing, but I have to confess this installment left me a bit flat for several reasons. I don't intend to give away the entire movie as I don't wish to ruin it for those who have yet to see it, so instead I am merely going to discuss what I liked and what I didn't like about the film, and be as broad as possible.
Let's start with what I liked; once again it was all Kate Beckinsale all the time. I am one of those dead guys who can't get enough of Kate Beckinsale. She is especially undead cold sexy, and hard as nails as a Vampire. Very exhilarating qualities for a leading lady in film, and ahem...other places if you catch my drift. Kate Beckinsale is one of the few women in the world that could give my all time favorite sexy actress Elizeabeth Hurley a run for her money, and she isn't even a "ginger". You should know by now how much I love my sexy gingers.
I am sorry but I will never tire of seeing Kate decked out in tight leather and latex hacking and slashing her way from one end of a story to the other. Underworld:Awakening does not disappoint in that regard. Kate makes vampires sexy, and continues to show off their immensely strong and dark nature in a way that the more effeminate teeny-bopper Vampires of the Twilight series could never hope to achieve. While her "gift" and ability to walk in the daylight is a little disturbing for me personally, at least she doesn't sparkle.
Selene's daughter Eve, played by India Eisley was also a welcome addition to the cast and it's story. Obviously being the daughter of Selene and Michael she is a hybrid. While she was cast in the role of "femme fatale" in this movie, it will be interesting to see how her character moves forward in any likely continuations of the series. We can rest assured knowing she won't be portrayed as some brooding emo teen like the Twilight kids. That in and of itself is enough for me.
The action was as one would expect from any Underworld movie, filled with tons of acrobatic wire work and loads of fancy gun play and melee combat. Nothing truly innovative in this picture in that regard, but still a joy to watch. Seeing Kate Beckinsale destroy veritable armies clad only in tight leather and latex just doesn't get old no matter how many times you've seen it already.
Now for the things I didn't like; let's start with the Lycans. Believe it or not, I am a very huge fan of werewolves. Next to my own kind the Zombies, they are my all time favorite member of the living not so dead gang. Hell in "An American Werewolf in London" the werewolf main character had a best friend who was a Zombie of sorts.
Sure Werewolves are not nearly as sexy as Vampires, especially vampires as they are portrayed by Kate Beckinsale, but I love Werewolves, or Lycans as they are called in the Underworld series for their animal magnitude, their sheer raw power, and their brutality. They are the very essence of quintessential human nature in motion. This is why I was so disappointed with the Lycans in this installment of the Underworld series. It simply wasn't there.
For starters, the Lycan were portrayed like rabid dogs off their leash, not a hunted race on the verge of extinction. There was no humanity in their portrayal whatsoever. They were naught but mindless animals that could have been easily replaced by a pack of dobermans or rabid purse poodles.
They were simply there for the sake of being there. The Lycan had some plan, but we never find out why this plan was so important as to risk their exposure and potential extinction nor why Eve, Selene's daughter, was so vital to this plan that they would risk it all. It just seemed like the Lycan served no real purpose in the overall story other than to provide target dummies for Selene's sexy acrobatic combat scenes.
There was no Lucian in this film to show the Lycans compassion and range of human emotion. Instead we got Stephen Rea playing some obscure Lab rat or Lab Lycan, as the case may be, and Kris Holden-Ried as his "monstrous" son. Neither contributed much to the story.
I don't like Stephen Rea, and I never have. I have no idea why he was cast in this part. Hell I have no idea why anyone casts him for any film. I know some people like him, but I find him to be drab and boring as fuck. He is little more than an elder version of Robert Pattinson, with a range of emotion that is equally as stunted. Holden-Reid is no better in this regard. Scenes that contained both actors felt flat, muted, and were very painful to sit through. There was enough wood in the acting of those scenes to build a small fire with. Watching that fire sputter and die would have been intrinsically more entertaining.
Neither of these Lycan main characters have a background we are made aware of via the course of the story, nor does there seem to be a reason they are "leading the pack". Their individual stories needed a lot more attention to detail and a helluva lot more screen time. While this particular flaw is the fault of the writers, casting decent actors that the audience could actually get behind would have been an improvement.
As for the Lycans themselves they looked absofuckinglutely horribad! I am sorry but I do not like to see "slimy" looking hairless werewolves, and that is exactly how these werewolves looked. Call them Lycans and use that as an excuse if you like, but they still looked incredibly shitty. I sincerely hope whoever was in charge of creature creation for this movie never works in Hollywood ever again. They were complete and utter abominations, and not in a good Vampire-Werewolf hybrid abomination kind of way. They looked like the steaming pile that a wolf leaves behind after a good meal...pure unadulterated crap. I have seen better creatures put together in three days with a limited budget on Syfy's "Face Off" then I saw in this movie.
The worst of the worst however, was the "Rat Ogre" they created to be the "Uber-Lycan" for the film. For those who don't know what a Rat Ogre is it is a creature from Games Workshop's Warhammer Fantasy battles. It looks just like the name implies. Rat Ogres are monstrous sized "Skaven", a race of rat men, who are powerful but not all that bright. Here see for yourself:
I don't know why they included this, but I know I didn't like it at all. It made me feel like I was raiding again back in World of Warcraft where they go out of their way to make a "Boss Fight" seem more imposing simply by making the "Boss" disproportionately large. It didn't work for me then, and it doesn't work for me in this film either.
My greatest disappointment with the film though was its run-time. At only 88 minutes it was way, way too short. Maybe it's me, and maybe it's because I grew up believing that a "feature length film" was intended to be at least 120 minutes (or 2 hours for those who are bad at math), but now a days it seems 90 minutes has become the norm, and this movie wasn't even that long. Sure it might seem petty to quibble over only 2 minutes of film, but in all sincerity I got the feeling as I watched it that they left the better part of 30 minutes of much needed back story on the cutting room floor.
All in all I am going to give Underworld:Awakening a shaky "B-". The only thing keeping it from a flat "C" was Kate Beckinsale. There were things I liked enough not to call it a bomb, but not not enough of those things to consider it a hit. Unlike the other films this one seemed more rushed than a labor of love, which disturbs me because that doesn't bode well for any further movies in the franchise. It is worth watching but neither the best nor the worst of the series to date.
Lastly, this is another case where the trailer sets you up for what is in store. It simply gives away too much of the story, and I hate when a trailer does that. A trailer should be a "tease" not a plot synopsis. I sincerely hope Movie Studios will begin to realize this fact and instruct their marketing teams accordingly. I will leave you with the trailer, and when you see the movie for yourself, you can see if you agree.
Now you're on your own.
Ace review. I'm a little put off by the running time even if it is in IMAX 3D with bells on.
How did you see it? (3D/2D)
Well being a Zombie I am not normally welcomed at the local Multiplex, so let's just say I saw it in 2D via some shady "connections" that I have.
Have to agree with your review Mr. C. I love the other films but was feeling very let down by this one. The Lycans in this film seemed too 'organic' , like the wolf burst out of them rather than their body changing. They seemed almost alien.