Title: Underworld Awakening
Principal Cast: Kate Beckinsale, Stephen Rea, India Eisley, Michael Ealy.
Release Date: 20th January 2012
Underworld Awakening, the fourth film in the rapidly growing vampire vs. werewolf franchise, takes what is perhaps the most logical (yet also the most obvious) path for the series. Due to issues with when exactly, this film is set and for that matter, where it’s set, the gothic architecture and general atmosphere of the first film is gone and so is the atmosphere of loneliness that was present in the second film.
For those who are new to the films or who only have a vague interest in them, there is an opening narration in which vampire Selene explains the plot of the series. Now we can only assume that in an otherwise fairly serious franchise, this bit of fourth-wall breaking is done for our benefit and not because Selene’s six-hundred years are catching up with her. Of course the ‘canon’ explanation would probably be that she is explaining (for the thousandth time) exactly why Michael, her werewolf companion, is in trouble, even though he should already know all of this.
The capture of Selene and Michael Corvin early in the film (they’re not married, Selene has no last name mentioned) is glossed over very quickly and gives no indication of their previous history (Michael is hit three times and goes down like a sack of potatoes. Selene tries to save him again and they’re both knocked out by a bomb. And these two are supposed to be incredibly dangerous supernatural creatures.)
Fast forward twelve years and everyone who came to see this film just for Kate Beckinsale (don’t even try and deny it, the plot is thin at best and she walks around in skin-tight leather for nearly the whole film,) is about to see her practically naked as she gets freed from the cryogenic lab by a mysterious friend. The audience quickly learns two things:
1. It’s a very bad idea to annoy a centuries old vampire.
2. Why this film has such a high rating compared to its predecessors.
As the first film was released in 2003 and the last film was a prequel, there are a lot of establishing character moments for our protagonist to remind us why we’re supposed to be on her side (and really, best to be with Selene than against her. At least you’re more likely to survive.) And we get to see a new side to our usually cold-hearted vampire warrior with the introduction of her daughter (called Subject 2 throughout the film but credited as Eve.)
Despite the cheesy plot, this film does take itself seriously and as such does have a cast of very talented actors who honestly seem to enjoy working on it. There are plot holes, just like in any other film, but they don’t detract from the real emotion that Selene’s plight manages to evoke. It’s a far cry from the first film and is much better in terms of story and acting. I hate to be clichéd myself but if you like gore and general action with moments of horror then you’ll like this.