Just enjoy ‘Underworld: Awakening’ for what it is

Christopher K. Conner

By A Contributor

The fourth movie in the Underworld franchise, “Underworld: Awakening,” brings the story back to the modern world. In this installment, Kate Beckensale returns as the Death Dealer Selene after a one film hiatus. What madness brought her to dust off her patent catsuit is left to the imagination.

Selene monologues the beginning of the film, explaining that humans discovered the existence of Lycans (poorly animated wolfmen) and Vampires. Not only are these nightmares from fairy tale real, but they are much more numerous than anyone would suspect, and living quietly alongside humans as friends, neighbors and family. Humans, recognize these creatures as former humans, consider their existence a plague, and the contagious nature of their conditions validate that belief.

Humanity’s natural tendency to persecute the different takes over, and after discovering the weaknesses of these demi-humans, the governments of the world institute a pogrom against them, called the cleansing. Because of this cleansing, Selene and her lover, the Vampire/Lycan hybrid Michael, are “leaving”, presumably to hide somewhere primitive. In some unknown way, Michael’s dual nature is known to the humans and, in classic fashion, he is meant to be captured for experimentation. It is in the process of departing that both Michael and Selene are captured and frozen in blocks of ice.

Because Scott Speedman did not participate in this film, much care is taken to avoid showing Michael too clearly. That leaves a good deal of reliance on prior knowledge to understand the relationship between Selene and Michael.

For twelve years, Selene remains in suspended animation until she starts to see through someone else’s eyes, and that someone thaws her. She immediately escapes and begins searching for Michael, killing most of the humans she encounters along the way.

Despite her skill and stealth, two people notice her lurking in the shadows: a police detective, and a surviving vampire. The vampire, David (Theo James) joins Selene’s search and updates her on the current conditions of the Lycans that creep in the sewers. Ultimately the two discover that they are not following Michael, but Eve (India Eisley), another former subject of Dr. Jacob Lane’s (Stephen Rea) attempt to find an antidote for Lycan and Vampire diseases.

After recognizing that she is Eve’s mother, Selene leads Eve and David as they flee Lycans in the city. During the pursuit, Eve shows her strength, but ends up wounded. David guides them to the last coven of Vampires where he hopes they can get help for Eve. Learning that Eve has never tasted blood, the strange nature of her existence, and her hybrid lineage are revealed. Now considered an abomination by the coven’s leader, Selene promises to leave as soon as Eve is able. In the interim, the coven is attacked by a strong pack of Lycans who kill most of the vampires and take Eve. Returning to the city, Selene finds an ally in Detective Sebastian (Michael Ealy) and mounts a plan to rescue her daughter.

“Underworld: Awakening” doesn’t try very hard to be anything more than an exhibition of patent leather and gore. Sure there is a tenuous story and a transparent mystery in there, but I doubt that they are strong enough to entertain someone that isn’t interested in the world and its background. Visually, the computer animated Lycans were inconsistent and often failed to work properly in 3D, but I enjoyed the action sequences anyway. Is “Underworld: Awakening” a good movie? Not really, but still, I found myself enjoying the film for what it was.

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