Underworld: Awakening

Go ahead and hate me, but I liked this damn thing!

Underworld AwakeningLet me say without the slightest fear of contradiction that my profound shallowness as a movie fan is on full display with the unapologetic statement that I truly enjoyed Underworld: Awakening. Yes, I saw it at the IMAX Cinema,and that helped. On the other hand, there is no denying that it is a loud, pulsating, violent extravaganza, and it is without question a mad roller coaster ride.

Let me admit that I have always been attracted to the Underworld films. While this says more about me than I should probably acknowledge, who can forget the preview of the first Underworld movie (2003) where Kate Beckinsale’s vampire, clad in black leather and buckled boots, stares from a crouch into the distance while perched on a dangerous ledge. Nasty for a whole lot of reasons!

Make fun of that observation all you want, but I have always considered the Underworld movies as being man’s revenge for the success of the tepid Twilight films. While women may not particularly care for Ms. Beckinsale’s Selene, how can they remotely defend the fact that their female companions make up the bulk of the audience in the Twilight films while swooning over both the shirtless Taylor Lautner and the pasty Robert Pattison.

Running less than one and a half hours, the new Underworld: Awakening tells the story of mankind’s attempt to eradicate both the vampire and Lycan clans. Held captive in a vegetative state for years, the world’s hottest vampire (any guesses?) escapes, only to learn that Lycans have gained the upper hand.

Along her path to survive she discovers a young girl who may be her daughter. Surprisingly, this provides an interesting twist in the film, especially given the fact that the child is a vicious little beast when pushed too far.

Look, there is seldom a scene where someone or some thing isn’t dying horribly, so that may not be your cup of tea. However, Ms. Beckinsale, as seductive as she is steamy, repeatedly kills deserving people and monsters at random with two handguns that never run out of ammunition, so who can really find fault with that?

The most recent Underworld is enormously helped by the appearance of the wonderful Irish actor, Stephen Rea, here as the lead Lycan villain. Mr. Rea is a spectacular actor as previously demonstrated in such provocative films as The Crying Game (1992), Michael Collins (1996), The End of the Affair (1999) and V for Vendetta (2005), and his appearance here as a guy you can hate elevates the movie in every respect.

Let me put it this way. While there are many reasons to criticize the most recent Twilight movie, the most profound was the fact that a young woman married a vampire and completely failed to have any discussion over the possibility that sex could immediately result in a pregnancy. Ms. Beckinsale doesn’t trouble us with this type of mindless confusion, as who could really get her out of her black leather outfit anyway?

Finally, I pointed out in my review of Haywire how Gina Carano’s Mallory could have been a twisted sister of Lizbeth Salander in the Dragon Tattoo movies. Our lovely vampire Selene could easily join that group, and I can only hope that the three of them eventually find a way to star together in one film. I would like to imagine them going to the Republican Presidential Convention this year, but I am probably letting my fantasies get far away from me.