Thursday, January 26, 2012

Underworld: Awakening

Year: 2012
Directors: Mans Marlind & Bjorn Stein
Cast: Kate Beckinsale, Stephen Rea, India Eisley, Michael Ealy, Theo James, Charles Dance

Plot: Humans discover the existence of vampires and lycans, and proceed to purge them from the planet. Selene is captured and cryogenically frozen. When she awakens 12 years later, she discovers that she has a daughter, who is being experimented on by a corporation. Selene must now protect her at all costs.

Review: I got two words for this film: Hell Yeah!

Kate Beckinsale is finally back doing what she does best in the Underworld films: kick ass and take names. And from the looks of it, she hasn't lost her touch one bit.

Initially everything about this film sounded like a disaster. Len Wiseman stepping down as director, most of the cast not returning for this round, the uninspiring trailer etc. But I'm happy to report that this fourth instalment of the franchise is exciting and just awesome to behold.

Wiseman chooses to become screenwriter and producer this time around and lets Swedish directors Mans Marlind and Bjorn Stein to take over, and they do one hell of a job here. As usual, the film is mostly in a blue shade, but the duo add a few more things, like excellent cinematography from the long shots to the fight scenes that are not too close so we can see who's moving where. They also borrow the first person camera view used in REC at the start of the film, and utilise it very well here.

But the film wouldn't be astounding as it is if it didn't retain the thing that made the franchise so successful, and I'm not just talking about Beckinsale. I'm referring to the violence. We get beheadings, impalings, throat rippings, point blank gunshots to the head, explosions, you name it. It's brutal, unflinching, in-your-face action, and I loved every bit of it.

As for Beckinsale, well she just owns the film. She's hot and deadly, and arguably one of the best vampire characters ever created. Without her, Awakening wouldn't be awesome. Stephen Rea gets a nice turn as the scientist with a secret, and India Eisley plays Selene's hybrid daughter Eve perfectly, who is vulnerable in human form, but most dangerous when she transforms into something else.

Sure, this film would be regarded by most as equivalent to junk food, but heck, I had a ball of a time with it. At 88 minutes, it doesn't overstay its welcome. Perhaps the only complaint I have is the absence of Scott Speedman as Michael, who is played by a double and shown vaguely here. But as long as Beckinsale is around, with her husband Len Wiseman coming up with ideas, the franchise can survive. From the looks of it, we'll definitely have part 5. I can't wait. (4/5)

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