[img]http://www.hometheatershack.com/gallery/file.php?n=8631[/img]Title: Underworld Awakening
Starring: Kate Beckinsale, Stephen Rea, Michael Ealy, Theo James, India Eisley
Directed by: Mans Mardlin and Bjorn Stein
Written by: Len Wiseman, John Hlavin, J. Michael Straczynski, Allison Burnett
Runtime: 88 Minutes
Blu-Ray Release Date: May 08, 2012
HTS Overall Score:72
Kate Beckinsale reprises her role as the beauteous, Selene. Those unfamiliar with the Underworld series, Selene (Beckinsale) is a vampire who was betrayed by her own kind as she fell in love with a half-vampire, half-lycan (werewolf), the first of his kind, named Michael. 'Underworld Awakening' picks up several years after 'Underworld 2' takes place. The vampires and lycans have now been discovered by mankind and they have forced an eradication on all of them. Humans have now realized the weakness of both species and produce weapons in order to properly take them down. Any vampires or lycans discovered are immediately put to death. Mankind rapidly rids the earth of the vampire and lycan population, leaving only a few who go into hiding. Amidst all of the purging of the two species, Selene and Michael are still marked as targets to the humans, lycans, and vampires; so the two set off to hide on their own.
During their escape, Selene and Michael are ambushed by humans and a bomb separates them. Selene is knocked out and captured and Michael goes missing. Selene finally begin to wake up as someone mysteriously begins to break her free from her frozen state in a test chamber, where she had been held for the span of twelve years. As she gathers her composure she manages to break herself out of the facility while sensing the presence of Michael. While she pursues Michael Selene must off the humans pursuing her. Selene is discovered by another vampire, named David (James), who seems to know who she is and decides to help her out. While attempting to find Michael, the two of them stumble across an underground den that has been a hiding spot for lycans. Selene and David rush to find Michael before the lycans do and just when they think they found him, it turns out to be a little girl, Eve (Eisley), who Selene discovers is her daughter. Eve appears to be just like her father, half-lycan, half-vampire, and because she is the second half-breed in existence, her protection is now of the utmost importance.
[img]http://www.hometheatershack.com/gallery/file.php?n=8633[/img]Despite thoroughly enjoying the other three movies in the Underworld series, I found myself a bit uninterested while watching this one. This movie was a bit over-the-top (even by Underworld standards) and just didn't quite capture me. I was eager for the return of Kate Beckinsale in the franchises as she skipped being in the third one; however, it just didn't feel quite the same. I think the franchise has lost its momentum and now has become just a novel excuse to bring the battle of vampires and werewolves to the screen once again. Another perplexing aspect I thought about while watching this movie -- while Kate Beckinsale reprised her role as Selene, Michael was not played by Scott Speedman. In fact, I believe he was computer generated most of the time and therefore goes uncredited. It's an odd choice, given the amount of screen time his character is alotted. This is not the first time I've seen it done, though, but it was certainly better implemented than the most obvious other films this occurred in, eg. Terminator Salvation and Arnold Schwarzeneggar, or The Mummy Returns and Dwayne "The Rock" Johnson. Overall, I found myself disconnected from the film and a bit letdown by this addition to the series.
Rated R for strong violence and gore, and some language
Underworld, in general, is a very dark stylized film. Colors are mostly devoid from the image as everything essentially has a cool blue hue to it. Though, the most important aspect of the video is the black level. Black level is never crushed and despite the dark clothing, dark backgrounds, dimly lit setting, detail is present. Contrast helps bring this detail out, and despite being as dark this film is, the video never really lacks punch. My understanding is that this was shot natively with 3D cameras, and despite watching it in 2D, there seemed to be quite a bit of depth to the image. Truthfully this was likely the most enticing portion of my watching experience.
[img]http://www.hometheatershack.com/gallery/file.php?n=8635[/img]'Underworld Awakening' is presented in a 7.1 DTS-HD Master Audio track that is loud. I cannot emphasize how loud it is. Most of this is in part to the incredibly heavy usage of low frequency effects. In fact, it was so overbearing that I could not leave it at my normal listening level, I had to turn it way down to finish the movie. It had plenty of rattle, but it also seemed a bit bloated and boomy. This bass-heavy track may be a plus for some, but personally I think the sound mix was overcooked and distracting. Despite my issue with the LFE, the rest of the sound mix was wonderful, albeit a smidge overdone as well. Surround usage is constant -- gunfire presents itself from every speaker and materials breaking and shattering are spread throughout the entire sound field. Aurally it was an all-out assault on the ears, but unlike the LFE was a bit more enjoyable of an experience. Dialog comes across flawlessly even when covered by heavy action. Even at lowered volumes it was still intelligible.
• Cracking the 'Underworld': Picture-in-Picture Experience
• Audio Commentary with the Producers and Directors
• Selene Rises - Featurette
• Casting the Future world of 'Underworld' - Featurette
• Resuming the Action - Featurette
• Building a Better Lycan - Documentary
• Awaking a Franchise, Building a Brutal New World - Documentary
• Blooper Reel
• "Heavy Prey" Music Video
I really wanted to like 'Underworld Awakening', but in the end it really missed its mark. With the over-the-top, kind-of-odd plotline and the overcooked, bloated LFE I just didn't really enjoy this one. Fortunately what the movie has going for itself is a great video transfer, but still I don't think it is enough to warrant my recommendation. For fans of the franchise, it's still likely a must to see, but for casual viewers, this likely will be something to overlook.
Recommendation: Rent It!
Official Blu-Ray Reviews Scoring