"UNDERWORLD: AWAKENING" (2012) (Kate Beckinsale, Stephen Rea) (R)
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Action/Horror: Humans discover the existence of warring vampire and werewolf clans and try to eradicate both species.
Humans have become aware of an age-old war between vampires and werewolves, also known as "Lycans." As a result, the world mobilizes in an effort to eradicate both species. Caught in the crossfire is vampire Selene (KATE BECKINSALE) who ends up being captured by a team of evil scientists led by Dr. Jacob Lane (STEPHEN REA) and his son, Quint (KRIS HOLDEN-RIED), and placed into frozen suspended animation.
Twelve years pass, and Selene is released from her chamber by a mysterious young girl named Eve (INDIA EISLEY) who turns out to be her daughter with former lover and werewolf hybrid Michael from the first "Underworld" movie. They go on the run and are aided by a vampire named David (THEO JAMES), whose father, Thomas (CHARLES DANCE), heads a vampire underground of sorts. Thomas does not trust Selene because of her past betrayals of their kind.
Eventually, the surviving werewolves find their hidden lair and attack. Eve is taken, and through a sort of psychic connection, Selene is able to discern that the evil scientists have reacquired her and are looking to resume their secret experiments on the girl. Dr. Lane is revealed to be a Lycan obsessed with developing a vaccine that will make his kind impervious to silver, the bane of all wolves. Selene then teams with Detective Sebastian (MICHAEL EALY), a vampire-friendly cop, to bring down the whole operation.
OUR TAKE: 3 out of 10
Our reviewing policy for films that aren't shown in advance to critics is that we'll only provide a couple of paragraphs about the film's artistic merits.
"Underworld: Awakening" is a dark, joyless video game of a movie that doesn't even bother to tell a complete story, but rather one chapter of a story…and not a very memorable one. At 88 minutes, it's mercifully short for anyone forced to sit through it. And it's wall-to-wall action and gore. So if you came for RealD 3-D throat ripping and gunshots to the head, you might leave somewhat satisfied. More likely, you'll just want Ibuprofen and a refund.
Kate Beckinsale, who must be contractually obligated at this point, returns as vampire Selene who was captured and frozen in suspended animation by evil scientists soon after the world's human population became aware of a secret, ages-old war between vampires and werewolves. She awakens 12 years later and learns that 1) her former lover, Michael, has likely been killed; 2) the humans launched an all-out purge and decisively won the war, forcing her kind and the surviving Lycans underground; and 3) Carrie Anne-Moss is still after her for stealing her "Matrix" look.
The film wastes some considerable talent this time around. In addition to Beckinsale, talented character actors Stephen Rea and Charles Dance are also set adrift in this would-be horror thriller. Each actor tries to save the script. But there's no inspiration here, only blood and splatter. I give it a 3 out of 10. (T. Durgin)
Reviewed January 20, 2012 / Posted January 20, 2012