Underworld: Awakening Blu-ray Review
Directed by Måns Mårlind and Björn Stein
Written by Len Wiseman and Jon Hlavin
2012, Region b (PAL), 85 minutes, Rated 18 (UK)
Blu-ray released on 14th May 2012
Kate Beckinsale as Selene
Stephen Rea as Dr. Jacob Lane
Michael Ealy as Detective Sebastian
Theo James as David
India Eisley as Eve
Sandrine Holt as Lida
Charles Dance as Thomas
If there was ever a cinematic equivalent of a WWE wrestling match, the Underworld films are it; huge, scripted fight scenes, lots of bravado and bluster and little to linger in the imagination post-event. I’ve seen all the previous Underworld films. I think. I can’t remember a single pertinent point about any of them, although the brief franchise recap at the start of Awakening presents several familiar scenes. I watched this fourth installment about a week ago and I’m still struggling to remember the bulk of it. It’s almost like a digital brainflush, providing an entertaining experience that goes straight into the eyes and ears, immediately expelling itself from somewhere further south.
Underworld: Awakening is best watched the way I did: On an HD projector with a massive bag of popcorn. I’m not even a big fan of popcorn, yet the film creates an involuntary muscle spasm that continually moves the arm between bag and face for the duration.
Kate Beckinsale reprises the role of Selene, the leather clad butt-kicker of both vampires and werewolves. I could probably go on to explain her history from the previous films, but I just have blank spaces interspersed with flashes of nice arse in skin-tight PVC. Mmm, arse. Where was I? Oh yes, the humans have discovered the existence of both underworld species and have mounted their own war to eradicate them. As part of this, Selene and vamp-wolf crossbreed Michael are captured and held in stasis in the laboratory of Doctor Jacob Lane, along with a young girl known as Subject Two.
Inevitably, Selene escapes along with Subject Two and finds that rather than being wiped out, vampires and lycans are severely weakened and have gone to ground to avoid the human threat. Meanwhile, the research of Dr Lane becomes more apparent and Selene realises she will have to join forces with the vampires that have shunned her to win a battle against a new and stronger strain of lycan.
At 80-odd minutes long, Underworld: Awakening doesn’t waste any time getting down to the heavily CGI-laced action. Vampires arm themselves with sharp, poky things and perform Matrix-style acrobatics while killing digitally generated werewolves. Things explode, people get thrown around, cars get crushed, but there’s very little stimulation of the viewer’s brain among this cinematic eye-candy. If you’re looking for a deep story with rich subtext, you’ve come to the wrong place.
And really, is there anything wrong with that? There are times when you just need to switch off and watch something mindless, pretty and entertaining. With stuff blowing up. This is the horror genre’s equivalent of every mindless action movie out there, from The Transporter to The Expendables. At least Underworld doesn’t make you watch half-naked muscular men kicking ass.
Video and Audio:
The 2.35:1 1080p picture looks marvelous. Much of the frenetic action takes place in darkened scenes and the clarity doesn't fail to keep the fast motion pin sharp, although there does seem to be a slightly bluish tinge to the blacks. The audio is DTS-HD Master 7.1 and creates a wonderful sense of inclusion, even over my 5.1 system. For those who like a bit of extra depth, the Blu-ray also offers a 3D version of the film.
- Filmmakers' commentary – With directors Måns Mårlind and Björn Stein, producers Richard Wright and Gary Lucchesi and executive producer/visual effects supervisor James McQuaide.
- Selene Rises - A discussion on the development of the character of Selene over the course of the franchise.
- The Cast - Interviews with, funnily enough, the cast.
- Resuming the Action - Discussing some of the major action scenes in the movie
- Awakening a Franchise: Building a Brutal New World - Behind the scenes of the CG backlots used in the film.
- Building a Better Lycan - How the visual effects people tried to improve the look of the lycans. It didn't work, you can still tell they're CG.
- Previsualization Sequences
- Blooper Reel
- Music Video – Heavy Prey, by Lacey Sturm of Flyleaf featuring Geno Lenardo. Who?
- Trailers – The Grey, Piranha 3DD and Lockout.
*Note: The screenshots on this page are publicity stills and not a reflection of the Blu-ray image.*
Want to comment on this review? You can leave one below or head over to the HorrorTalk Review Forum.