If there's one thing the Underworld series of films had going for it, it was their interesting take on vampires and werewolves. It resulted in movies that were silly but rich in history and flavor. So what does Underworld: Awakening, the latest movie in the series, do to enrich its mythos?
It does away with it entirely.
When Selene (Kate Beckinsale) wakes up naked in a lab with no memory of why she got there, she escapes only to discover that humankind has found out about the existence of vampires and lycans, and in an event called "The Purge", wiped them out from the face of the planet. The vampire-lycan war for domination became a war of survival, with Selene apparently the last of their race...until a mysterious girl comes into her life carrying a secret that just might save the world...or destroy it!
I could understand where they were going with this. With Selene having killed off every single vampire and lycan elder (including the first vampire, lycan and immortal, natch), enemies are understandably hard to come by. Not to mention that lycans have jobbed to vampires since forever. Awakening's solution to this problem might not have been elegant nor easy to swallow at first, but as the mystery becomes clear it opens up exciting possibilities. It's unfortunate then that the movie they built around it is hard to watch, literally and figuratively.
I mean, the action is intense and delightfully gory (probably the goriest Underworld movie so far), but then somebody decided it would be a good idea to light the movie like a bad rave, with blinking lights that made the action hard to follow and put me on the verge of an epileptic seizure.
The people fare no better. Awakening just proves Beckinsale needs someone to play off of, whether its smarmy vampire elders or hybrid boyfriends. Here she has neither, and whoever gets to share her spotlight here has little time to make us care what happens to them. Hell, even Beckinsale isn't that fun to watch, looking more emaciated than sexy. The only saving grace is the final boss of the film, a scary sonovagun whom you need to see to believe. Too bad that it's too little too late.
By throwing away everything that made it good in the first place, Underworld: Awakening became just another bad action-horror flick. In the age of Twilight, vampires and werewolves needed a good shot in the arm. Unfortunately, this movie ain't it.