The Swedish directorial duo of Måns Mårlind and Björn Stein offer yet another installment of the “Underworld” series, entitled “Awakening.”
This is the fourth film in the franchise, although the third film was a prequel and did not feature Kate Beckinsale, the heroine of the first two films.
With her absence, the ratings of the third film did not follow suit.
In its opening weekend, “Underworld” grabbed the No. 1 position at the box office. I hate to be so obvious, but I get the feeling that moviegoers keep coming back for Beckinsale posing as a sexy vampiress in skin-tight leather and spandex.
The first two movies followed the ongoing war between the vampires and the lycans (werewolves), and the relationship between Selene and her vampire-lycan hybrid love interest, Michael Corvin (Scott Speedman).
In “Awakening,” humans have finally become aware of the presence of these other creatures.
When this happens, humans stop killing each other and turn all their aggression and motivation toward exterminating both vampires and lycans.
Both sides are forced into hiding, and Corvin and Selene are torn from each other very early in the film.
The majority of “Awakening” takes place 12 years afterwards, as Selene is released from a cryogenic freezer by an unknown source. She doesn’t remember how she got there, and her surroundings are unfamiliar.
Luckily enough, her super-tight black outfit is conveniently tucked away in a cabinet not far from the freezer she was stored in. As usual, Selene doesn’t have much time to think about what’s going on before there is a hoard of humans sent to kill her.
This sets into motion the heavy dose of action sequences throughout “Awakening.”
Where the original two films meshed the action scenes with sections of mythology and history about the war between the vampires and lycans, this film concentrates much more on the action.
I think the new directors are trying to reestablish the franchise by changing its direction a little bit and focusing more on the action.
I definitely enjoyed the first two movies, but they could only stay on that path for so long before the franchise would be completely drained of any and all relevance it may have had.
The new direction is helpful in every way.
The new directors give fans of the series exactly what they want: an R-rated gore fest that revolves around Selene kicking butt and taking names instead of convoluting itself with multiple characters and loose ends.
This new offering gives glimpses of the old films, but stands on its own for the most part.
Corvin plays an almost non-existent role in “Awakening,” which mostly concentrates on Selene and her daughter Eve (India Eisley), the newest addition to the “Underworld” family.
When “Awakening” came to a close and the credits rolled, my friend immediately turned and said, “Didn’t that seem really, really short?”
With a runtime of 88 minutes, I could definitely see how it might feel that way, especially after paying full price for a 3-D movie that wasn’t even an hour and a half.
But after considering the extremely open-ended nature of this film’s ending, it’s very clear they plan on making yet another installment to the “Underworld” series, depending on how well this one did in the box office, of course.
I, for one, would not complain about a fifth film. The makers of “Awakening” knew they would have to up the ante in order to please fans of the original films and also keep the series alive, and I believe they accomplished both. This film did bigger and better things than any of its predecessors.