Underworld: Awakening - Review

Obviously, even an uninspired prequel without the main lead character can't kill off the lazily written vampire-matrix franchise "Underworld".
Now, Kate Beckinsale is back for the fourth installment "Underworld: Awakening" (Underworld 4). While the trailers show that "Underworld 4" seems to be better produced than its predecessor "Underworld: Rise of the Lycans", it isn't that much of a step above and just looks like more of the same. Question is, whether Kate's comeback does change anything at all or if it's just another step deeper into the grave *no undead joke intended*.

When human forces discover the existence of the Vampire and Lycan clans, a war to eradicate both species commences. The vampire warrioress Selene (Kate Beckinsale) leads the battle against humankind. (source: IMDb)

Honestly, at first i was quite positively surprised by the idea of putting Selene in a more futuristic environment, in which humans try to clear out every trace of vampires and lycans in the world. It sounded like a cool concept with quite some potential. I imagined vampires and lycans fighting side by side for their survival in a cyber-punk world....but well, that doesn't happen.
Instead it's just the same old formula of the previous movies, in which the movie basically just follows Selene walking from one slow-mo 3D action scene to the next. Problem is that those action scenes are nothing we haven't seen before, making them get tiresome really really fast.
The story again focuses on the vampires fighting against the lycans. The premise of both species being hunted (and why they should team up) gets completely thrown out of the window, and instead gets replaced by Selena trying to rescue her daughter Eve (which is not even remotely as exciting and is just shoehorned in).

Turns out, it's pretty hard talking about "Underworld 4"'s story because there barely is any to speak of. The basic plot is just as shallow and unengaging like the ones of the "Resident Evil" flicks. The thing is that Selene's newest "adventure" has the most paperthin and most sloppily put together story of the entire franchise...and THAT is what you call an "embarassing low point". The "Underworld" franchise never was very well thought out or written but making an even worse movie than "Underworld: Evolution" is quite pushing it.

To go into detail: The plot has everything a bad action sequel needs. It has: plot conveniences that it pulls right out of its ass, cardboard-cut-out characters, lazy almost non-existent dialogue, plot holes, a twist that completely fails to impress, etc.

The acting is just as wooden and dull as you would expect. Granted, Kate Beckinsale and probably everyone else noticable in the movie are no great actors but this is just lame and direct-to-dvd level. You can tell that Kate's only motivation to do this movie was to be able to buy another Porsche or something for her garage...or shoes.
Additionally, you never get the feel that Selena and Eve are supposed to be mother and daughter. But well, who cares? It's not like we are talking about a Stanley Kubrick movie here.

The effects have gotten no make-over or improvement whatsoever. The lycans in particular look just as phony and silly as in the previous installments (with the lycan costumes being the highlight of the effects). But it's the horrendously bad make-up effects on Eve that steal the show. How can anybody take this girl seriously as a vampire? She looks like a kid that painted its face for halloween! And of course there's nothing scary about any of the monsters at all.

All in all, "Underworld 4" could have been a fresh new start with its quite interesting premise. But of course the idea of trying anything new was just to risky for hollywood. "Underworld 4" never had the potential of becoming a masterpiece, but it could have been at least some kind of solid action popcorn flick if it just kept following the vampires + lycans vs. humans story.
It's just another soulless and extremely unnecessary sequel to a horribly underwritten franchise. This movie is only for fans of the franchise, although i think that even they will feel gypped watching this short, unmotivated sequel. Non-fans will definitely be bored to tears by "Underworld: Awakening".

Final Verdict: 2 out of 10


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