Underworld: Awakening 3D Blu-ray Review
Much like the fourth film of another famous franchise in LIVE FREE OR DIE HARD, the fourth installment of the Underworld franchise is fun on the surface, but the heart and charm you liked in the original has been replaced with a series of mindless action stunts that although entertaining, don’t do much to further the plot. The series isn’t in the courting phase anymore, so there’s no reason to wine you and dine you with intricate plots or character development; at this point, the series just wants to get straight to the action. That said, if you enjoyed the previous three Underworld films, there’s no reason you won’t get a kick out of this one.
I have to give some credit to the gang of screenwriters that came up with the idea for the film, since the franchise was over after the Kate Beckinsale-less UNDERWORLD: RISE OF THE LYCANS came out in 2009. The idea here is that humans have become aware of the vampires and lycans and went through a cleansing where they tried to eradicate the world of both species. But a research firm, Antigen, managed to keep a few vampires for their own research in an effort to build the perfect hybrid. As the film starts, so does the action and we quickly pick up with our heroine Selene (Kate Beckinsale) as she is freed from her cryogenic container and fights her way out of the compound. But 12 years have passed since she last walked the earth and she has to adjust to the new world where vampires and lycans still hate each other, but now humans are aware of their existence.
At the heart of the story is the lycan/vampire hybrid Eve, who was conceived at the lab from, presumably, the DNA of Selene and Selene’s hybrid lover Michael Corvin (played in previous films by Scott Speedman). It should be noted that we never see Michael on screen, but he’s referenced throughout. As the film unfolds, Selene is forced to protect Eve from the lycans and the humans that want to use her for some unknown purpose.
The film barely reaches the 90 minute mark, so everything is compact and flows quickly. Although that opens it up for easy potshots at the lack of plot or character development, it serves the audience well by keeping the action coming at a frantic pace and never slowing down to bore us with details. At this point, we know Selene and Michael are in love and we understand Eve is their daughter; all we really want is to see Selene brutally kill a bunch of lycans and run around in a black trench coat while firing two guns at once. And to the directors’ credit, they give us that in spades.
The plot holes in the film can be frustrating since they proposed a lot of concepts that were never fully explored. Most of my questions revolved around how the humans discovered the vampires and lycans and how they presumably won the “war” so easily. I’m never a fan of going back in the middle of a series when it comes to sequels, but a film exploring that whole idea could be interesting. But as it is, the Underworld franchise is ripe for more films since Awakening left the door open to an endless number of sequels. I’d normally say no thanks to a series going past four films, but the Underworld franchise has proven to hold on to the fun and intensity of the original and as long as Kate Beckinsale returns, I’m in for more.
Video: The 3D on this Blu-ray is fantastic, clearly justifying the slightly higher purchase price. It’s not a film that demands the use of 3D technology, but when watching in the comfort of your own home, it’s a nice addition that makes the movie watching experience that much more enjoyable.
Audio: The audio to UNDERWORLD: AWAKENING 3D matched the impressive video and as you sit back to enjoy the 3D, the audio does well to heighten the experience by utilizing the surround channels effectively, putting you right in the middle of the action.
Filmmaker’s Commentary: Considering there were five people speaking in this commentary it flows very well. There’s a lot of information about the 3D aspect, visual effects and storyline that will make fans extremely happy.
Selene Rises (12:14): A featurette about Selene and how well Kate Beckinsale played the character. This is definitely worth watching if you are a fan of Beckinsale in this series.
Casting the Future of Underworld (12:33): This bit talks about the Underworld newcomers, Theo James and India Eisley, and how their characters will be utilized in future films. This also gives in-depth explanation on the overall story arc of the Underworld series.
Resuming the Action (8:52): About the action sequences and the stunt work involved. This also goes into the process and difficulties with working on a 3D film.
Building a Better Lycan (10:20): This is all about the werewolves and how far they have come on screen.
Awakening a Franchise, Building a Better World (18:53): This is basically a feature about the actual shooting of the film as well as the location used.
Blooper Reel (3:21)
Music Video: “Heavy Prey” by Lacey Sturm Feat. Geno Lenardo