Thursday, October 18, 2012

2012 Halloween Film Festival: Underworld: Awakening (2012)

Underworld: Awakening is the fourth installment in the Underworld film series, with Kate Beckinsale reprising her role as Selene, a vampire known as a “Death Dealer.” The film series depicts a secret war that has raged for generations between vampires and Lycans (an ancient species of werewolf). Awakening picks up nine days after events in Underworld: Evolution, passing over the third film which was a prequel story for the entire series (minus Beckinsale).  Following a neat intro using news broadcasts detailing how humans have initiated "The Purge", a global military action to exterminate Vampires and Lycans, Selene races to join her lover, the lycan-vampire hybrid Michael Corvin (actor Scott Speedman digitally imposed over a stand-in) at the docks. She arrives just in time to see armed forces shoot Michael, who falls overboard. Selene dives in and just as she reaches him, an ultraviolet light bomb tossed into the sea, explodes between them.

Twelve years later, in 2015, human governments have concluded their campaigns against the vampires and lycans. They have annihilated 95% of the vampire race and believe the lycans to be extinct. Selene is freed from cryogenic suspension and escapes from the medical corporation, Antigen which is trying to make an antidote for the virus that creates vampires and lycans. Selene has strange visions that she believes are linked to Michael. The visions lead her to a building where she discovers a young girl, Eve (India Eisley) who is revealed to be the hybrid that she had been sensing, and the genetic daughter of both Selene and Michael created by Antigen. David, a fellow vampire intervenes after Eve has been injured by the rabid lycans (not as extinct as expected) and is not healing, and he takes her and Selene to his coven. Unfortunately David's father, Thomas, does not welcome them, blaming Selene for provoking the destruction of the vampires. Thomas tells her that Michael died twelve years ago. A vampire woman offers her blood to the wounded Eve, who appears unaware of the effects of drinking it. With Selene's encouragement, she accepts the gift and quickly heals. Almost immediately lycans attack in large numbers, and numerous vampires are slaughtered, dealing a huge blow to the coven as they assume that humans and lycans are now working together. Selene battles a "super lycan", whose body was changed by injections containing Eve's genetic material. After Selene is knocked unconscious during the fight, Eve is turned over to the lycans by Thomas (Charles Dance) in exchange for their departure. Using her ultra-rarefied immortal blood (given to her by Alexander Corvinus in Evolution) to heal the mortally wounded David, Selene tells Thomas that hiding isn’t existing, and she heads out to recover her daughter.

The film was co-directed by Måns Mårlind and Björn Stein from a screenplay partially written by former director Len Wiseman and others, including J. Michael Straczynski. Underworld: Awakening continues the legacy of the earlier films, all of which are basically fun escapist fantasies that allows viewers to simply turn their brains off and have a rollicking good time. All of these movies have made decent money, despite mixed critical reactions, and this film is currently the highest grossing entry of the entire series (which is great since the ending allows for a continuation) and if nothing else it is well worth catching the sexy and always impressive Kate Beckinsale as she issues righteous ass-kicking to hordes of lycans. Recommended!

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