Death-dealing vampire Selene and her tight, tight pants are back, in what is surely the most violent addition to the Underworld franchise. With original series director Len Wiseman stepping out of the director's chair, will this supernatural "underworld" finally get a color pallette beyond the ubiquitous teal? Of course not. But at least this film gives us silver whips, and an Über Lycan.
The good news: This is by far the bloodiest of all Kate Beckinsale's S&M fantasy movies. And you know that's exactly why you're buying a ticket. Spoilers ahead...
The fourth addition, Underworld: Awakenings finally acknowledges that you can't have a giant winged elder flying through the world, killing vampires and battleships of supernaturals parading around this world, without people noticing. The movie catches up with Selene and a very poorly rendered CG face of her hybrid lover Michael (was Scott Speedman busy?). Humans have discovered that werewolves and vampires are a very real thing, and decide to wipe them off the face of the planet in "the great purge."
One nice thing about Len Wiseman stepping out of the director's chair is we no longer have to humor his ridiculous story lines following Selene's past, Viktor's past with Marcus and Kraven, Lucian's past, the Corvinus family tree, and so on. It's not that that stuff was hard to follow, it was just exhausting. Thank goodness, new directors Måns Mårlind and Björn Stein brush the heavy world-building of Underworld aside, and replace it with buckets of gore. So much gore! One character actually get his face ripped off, and they show ALL OF IT! It's pretty intense. If I can't have Bill Nighy (Viktor) making vampire cat hiss noises, then at least give me gore.
Moving on, Selene and Not Michael try to escape but are blown up and then frozen by the humans. Fast forward to 12 years later — Selene wakes up and is PISSED. You'd think that by setting it 12 years in the future, that would give it the cheesy movie license to Back To The Future this series up a bit. But alas, Pizza Hut hydrators costs money, and forethought. I guess when you have a built-in audience of werewolf vs. vampire enthusiasts, there's no need to pussyfoot around with anything that isn't a Beckinsale pleather ass shot.
Perhaps the most telling example of Underworld: Awakening's "look we're just here to show shots of Beckinsale's pleather ass smacking CG werewolves in the face" attitude is when the frozen vampire awakens from her cryo-slumber. Her body still recovering from the 12-year sleep, the naked starlet flaps around on the ground perfectly covered in what we can only assume is dry ice fog (which I would like to point out is totally B.S., because what's the point of having an R-rated movie if you're going to cover Beckinsale's tiny alabaster hiney with Halloween party punch smoke?). After a few minutes of sexy fully covered fish-out-of-water body-worming, Beck's realizes that her iconic Goth vampire outfit has all been nicely preserved in the glass case next to her cryo chamber. You know, for science.
Once escaped, Selene sets about trying to pick up what's left of her life. Which is easy, as she was given the this new power of being able to seeing through (what she believes are Michael's) eyes. But there's a twist, it's not Michael! Now the being that Selene is tracking through the streets of the supernaturally purged future is none other than her own hybrid baby, Subject Number 1! The two link up and Selene is protective but exceptionally cold — classic Selene, in other words. They pick up a small remaining coven of vampires, and immediately begin fighting werewolves.
You see, instead of joining together and fighting off the attacking humans, both Lycans and Vampires still hate each other and continue to fight to the death. Which is good for the audience, because that is what we all came here to see.
Underworld: Awakening is much more intent on Beck's clothes than building up the relationships. No, seriously — there is an actual scene where the detective of the film says "fuck it" and grabs guns and starts shooting up Lycans. Because why would we ask for something more from this film?
Through the fighting a secret twist is slowly revealed about the government's real motives, we get to watch Selene fight the biggest Lycan we've ever seen, and the new vampire with pretty eyes slashes a few faceless werewolves with a silver whip. And guns. So many guns. The entire thing climaxes with an epically bloody showdown in the very government building Selene woke up in. We won't tell you why — that would ruin the only surprise in this feature you may not see coming! But if you like CG guts and blood squirts and watching a girl in tight pants kick so much ass, go see it. It's not good, by any means — but if you've got a few pints in you, it's fairly enjoyable.