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Friday, January 27, 2012

MOVIE REVIEW: UNDERWORLD: AWAKENING

UNDERWORLD!!! NO other movie franchise is filled with more over-the-top CGI action, black-latex hotties and (not to mention) vampires on werewolf beat-downs than Underworld...and that's just the way I like it! The newest chapter in the Underworld saga is Underworld: Awakening, the fourth movie in the series, unless you don't count the last one: Underworld: Rise of the Lycans (2009), which was in fact a prequel.
Kate Beckinsale returns as the vampy death-dealer Selene, who has since her last appearance in Underworld: Evolution (2006) been battling Lycans and Vampires alongside her half-vampire/half-werewolf hybrid lover Michael (Scott Speedman). As the epic war between the species continues, humans have finally entered the fray as they endeavor to rid the world of BOTH species in what is called "The Purge". As Selene and Michael attempt to escape, they are suddenly attacked, Michael is presumed dead and Selene is captured and put into cryogenic stasis! 12 years later, Selene is mysteriously freed from the lab and finds a world were vampires are virtually extinct and the last few Lycans are desperate, starving and living underground. While she searches for answers she discovers a mysterious hybrid teenage girl, Eve (India Eisley) who had been experimented on by humans and (SPOILER ALERT!) just happens to be Selene's daughter!!! Selene and Eve then find refuge with one of the last few remaining vampire covens and meet David (Theo James). Soon they are attacked by a new mutant-like version of Lycan, which is twice the size of a normal Lycan and even more powerful. So ultimately, Selene must battle this über-Lycan and try to find what happened to Michael!
Although panned by most critics and moviegoers, many seem to forget that the first Underworld movie did extremely well at the box office, earning over $93 Million in 2003! Although it's sequels earned much less, there is still a very strong fan-base. While many of the gripes and complaints about these movies encompass every aspect of the franchise including acting, special effects, story and even plot (or absence thereof), I find that these movies are not truly given their due credit. Yes, they are extremely over-the-top, filled with melodramatic acting and embellished CGI-enhanced action sequences, but that's why we love them!. They ARE entertaining and while they succeed in not taking themselves too seriously, at least they don't go so far as to parody themselves (yet?). The archetypal themes, especially in the original and even the prequel have this very Shakespearean feel of forbidden love. That, combined with the dark and moody color-schemes and not to mention the vampire and werewolf effects, make it great! I'm not saying it deserves great praise or even Oscar nominations for that matter, but they are perfect examples of a typical Hollywood action movie. They fall in the same vein as the Schwarzenegger films and Die Hard series in the 80's. Everybody loves them, despite how campy and over-the-top they are and that's what makes them fun! If you enjoyed the original Underworld movie and were perhaps a little disappointed by the sequels and prequels, give Underworld: Awakening a chance, I think you'll be pleasantly surprised!
UNDERWORLD Official Site: http://www.entertheunderworld.com/