Tuesday, 24 April 2012

Underworld: Awakening (2012)

Image: Fohnjang Ghebdinga/Fohnhouse

Three years after the Kate Beckinsale-free Underworld prequel Rise of the Lycans, the actress has squeezed herself back into the leather cat suit to strut around, jump off buildings, and kill some werewolves. But does her return herald an improvement?

The humans have found out that vampires and lycans exist and decide to eradicate them. Selene (Beckinsale) is captured and frozen by evil scientist Dr. Lane (Stephen Rea) but is mysteriously released twelve years later. She rallies the remaining vampires to keep a powerful young girl safe and find out what Lane is up to.

The five screenwriters should perhaps have been a sign that all was not well but even by the series’ not exactly sparkling script standards, Underworld: Awakening moves mechanically towards its big action finale with a gloomy sense of inevitability rather than energy or purpose. There are absolutely no surprises between Selene’s imprisonment and the final assault on the compound. The film also suffers from the lack of Bill Nighy and Michael Sheen and their enjoyably hammy villainy. While Beckinsale’s leather-clad gun-toting “death dealer” may get the teenage bums in seats, this definitely is lacking in actors capable of delivering the clunky dialogue with anything other than laughable earnestness. We do at least have Rea (Interview with the Vampire) as the sinister doctor and Charles Dance, who struggles a bit with his vampire teeth as coven leader Thomas. The rest of the acting talent is negligible to say the least.

Despite their hokiness the previous films weren’t completely without their charm but this functional fourth instalment relies too heavily on the appeal of Beckinsale’s return. The idea to create a new mythology and a new world isn’t a bad one in itself but they could have gone about it with a bit more vigour.

The weakest of the series with a script that’s seriously wanting in action and lacking any fresh spin.

1.5/5

JH

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