Underworld: Awakening (2012)

wq5g1416291What cruel irony that the latest subtitle for the mediocre “Underworld” series is called “Awakening” since for the most part I found myself incapable of staying awake through the majority of it. If you’re looking for a cure for insomnia and don’t want medication, put on “Underworld: Awakening” and you’ll definitely be out like a light within ten minutes. After writing off the series and expanding her horizons, Kate Beckinsale comes crawling back to her husband’s film series that made her a star and reprises the role of Selene. Still one of the most one-dimensional and cardboard action heroines of contemporary genre cinema, Selene is back yet again this time on the run from pretty much everyone. After years of the war between the vampires and the lycans (ugh), the human race has finally caught on.

Wow, all those years of mysterious gun fights, and criminals leaping off of buildings and turning in to dogs has finally set off a red light in civilization that something is up. Good job, humanity. Now with the authorities enacting “the purge,” the government are raiding every crevice of the world and slaughtering legions of lycans and vampires no matter how big or small. I’m presuming the raids began at local leather jacket outlets and Hot Topics and then expanded from there. Now with the purge happening and Selene on the run yet again, she and her boy toy Michael find themselves at the mercy of authorities. Scott Speedman inexplicably has only a minute of screen time in this newest installment and is blown in to the water after no dialogue and a brief scene in the throes of Selene’s arms. I know Speedman’s time on-screen is just a combination of archive footage, body doubles, and CGI, but it’ll count when his paycheck arrives.

When Selene awakens she spends a majority of the film brutally slaughtering hapless guards and scientists and breaking free from a laboratory. We’re supposed to root for her even after murdering a lot of innocent people, I’m assuming. There’s not a lot of plot, so the first twenty minutes of the film, and occasional intervals have absolutely no story to them. It’s merely a montage of Kate Beckinsale killing guards and looking for a direction in the narrative. And you have to appreciate that even though Selene is being hunted and chased by relentless armies of gun toting soldiers, she still manages to retain the black leather outfit and coat. Nothing says incognito like looking like a cosplayer for “The Matrix,” right? The hackneyed plot, or what little there is of it, is comprised of Selene bonding with a young girl who, altogether now: may hold the key to the fate of the Lycans and the Vampires!

Oh, that old chestnut. So Selene spends the rest of the movie bonding with the young girl, gazing at her lovingly, vowing to protect her, and uncovering a ho hum conspiracy plot involving the government. There is also the introduction of Lycanzillas, larger than normal lycans who stomp around slaughtering vampires and little else. Filling in for Speedman and providing the forced sexual chemistry are the combined talents of Michael Ealy and Theo James, both of whom are given little screen time, and are meant to lust after Selene for most of the time shared with Beckinsale. Speedman may not have been a basket full of charisma, but at least he brought a certain dynamic with Beckinsale. Sadly, there’s nothing here. “Awakening” doesn’t have much of a purpose at all. In fact it really adds nothing to the already dull mythos of the vampires war with the lycans. Just some thoughts I pondered on while dozing off: Can vampires have babies now?

Why is this child a hybrid and not a vampire? Are there other hybrids out there? Do writers have to continue to cling to that ancient and ridiculous cliche of calling the first of some species Adam or Eve? Where does Selene get her ammo? And where does she put it? Are there female lycans at all? And is there a copyright on the word werewolf? Is that why they’re referred to as lycans or is that an effort to make the rehashed story sounds unique? Why not complete the job and call vampires Fangers, from now on? If you’re in the market for a cure for your insomnia and don’t want to medicate, be sure to pop in “Underworld: Awakening” and prepare for the snooze of your life. Stale, lifeless, and simply going through the motions to get Beckinsale relevant again and everyone else paid, this is a sequel you can avoid. In fact, try dodging the whole damn series, altogether.