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John’s Horror Corner: Underworld: Awakening (2011)

January 22, 2012

MY CALL:  Nobody panic.  The Underworld franchise is redeemed after the catastrophic Underworld: Rise of the Lycans.  B+ for action and mindless entertainment value.  IF YOU LIKE THIS, WATCHUnderworld (2003) and Underworld: Evolution (2006), of course.  Just not Rise of the Lycans (2009), an epic fail.

Thank God!  Scream Queen Kate Beckinsale returns.  I had no difficulty watching Rhona Mitra, but Rise of the Lycans just hurt me.  I thought that the amputation of that wretched third installment would leave the franchise forever bitter and crippled from making new sequels.  But have no fear.  The franchise is redeemed and primed for more sequels.

After a quick recap of the first two movies’ events, we are introduced to a near-future in which the vampires and lycans (werewolves) have been discovered by humans.  It is acknowledged in the movie that ‘now these nonhumans are more than myth’ and, not surprisingly given human nature, the humans militarized a “cleansing” to eradicate the vampires and lycans.  In this middle of all this Selene (Beckinsale) is captured and cryogenically frozen.  This is where the background ends and this story begins.

This movie is all about transformations. Beck starts off as a Becksicle…

…and turns into this sultry slayer.

Selene is freed from her cryo-chamber after being helped by some unseen (presumably) nonhuman and escapes an extremely well-guarded research facility.  Conveniently, the her scientist-captors left all of her tight, shiny leather outfit in some chemical cabinets, so she was quick to find her normal form.  During her escape she encounters some thought-to-be-eradicated lycans and a little vamp-lycan hybrid adolescent—she’s pretty tough and gets some cool action scenes.  This little girl (actually an 18 year old, India Eisley; The Secret Life of the American Teenager TV series) seems to be the center of story because the lycans REALLY want her.

This girl goes from this scared little thing…

…to this upset little thing…

…to this royally pissed off hybrid little thing…

…and somehow to this lovely little thing.

The plot is quite weak; borderline pointless.  But that didn’t bother me a bit.  Like the first two installments of the franchise, this flick cluster-bombs viewers with exciting action sequences, flesh-shredding assaults, people being slam-launched across the room into walls, a healthy dose of blood splattering, and some occasional creative acrobatics.  Oh, and watch out for the really, really, big bad wolf.  The lycans genetically engineered this mega-lycan that is around 12-15 feet tall and probably weighs a couple tons.  The fight scenes between MegaLycan (Lost Girl’s Kris Holden-Ried as Quint) and Selene are very exciting, brutal, bashy, gritty… The other action scenes are fun, too.  Including a lycan-on-foot car chase, some mass melees, and some spiffy close-quarters combat.  If you came with no care for plot and every care for mindless action, then this flick is most certainly for you.

Quint goes through the…ummm, biggest…change. He goes from this angry, whiny red-headed stepchild…

…to this silver-resistent MegaLycan!

Then Beck says “F” this…

…I’m used to dealing with THIS!

In the end I was thrilled with the production value, action-filming and set design—all of which were poor in Rise of the Lycans.  The effects budget seemed to be lower than it was for Underworld: Evolution (the best effects of the franchise), but to no fault.  This is one of those “movies for guys who like movies” action flicks and one really wouldn’t suffer for not seeing the prequels.  But you should definitely watch them anyway!

While this was uber-fun, the best Underworld “feel” came from the first two, both directed by Len Wiseman.  Wiseman wrote the story for all of the Underworld movies, directed Live Free or Die Hard and is also directing the Total Recall remake, which also features Beckinsale.  Happy day!  When Wiseman directs, things seem to go well.  So see all his movies, see this movie (even though he didn’t direct), and let’s hope they get him for the next Underworld installment!

And now for more guns and leather-clad Beck.  Just look at her emotional range…






“In the zone!”

“Look what the cat dragged in.”

33 Comments leave one →
  1. chuck finley eats moon rocks permalink*
    January 22, 2012 10:27 am

    That is a big werewolf. I hate when they genetically engineer animals that can already beat me up.

    • John Leavengood permalink
      August 10, 2016 10:26 pm

      Clearly it was necessary since the werewolves were already resilient enough to keep showing up for more sequels.

      When the new Underworld comes out in 2017, will the werewolf be as big as a Kaiju?

      Will Selene get into a Jaeger to defeat it?

      Will an egg-laying queen kaiju werewolf with six arms be fought in the finale?

  2. Me lychan this! permalink
    January 22, 2012 2:19 pm

    Kate Beckinsale should start a spin off movie series called “Underpants.” It would gross $100 million in the opening weekend.

    • johnleavengood permalink
      January 28, 2012 8:58 pm

      She’s in her underpants in most of her movies. Laurel Canyon, underwear pool party. Whiteout, in the first 10 minutes. Van Helsing, the whole wardrobe was basically full body underpants. But I agree, a show dedicated solely to that would be nice.

  3. January 28, 2012 4:33 pm

    Really enjoyed this movie, its definately best experienced in IMAX.

  4. D淡定D permalink
    July 27, 2013 8:06 pm

    Very nice movie review!
    Yes, I totally agree that Rise of the Lycans is a disaster.
    The series is redeemed by Underworld Awakening.

    • johnleavengood permalink
      October 17, 2013 7:26 pm

      Yeah. Now where’s my next Underworld sequel?

    • John Leavengood permalink
      August 10, 2016 10:27 pm

      And now we have 2017 for yet a new installment!


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