I went in to this movie feeling a wee bit of trepidation. I thought the third Underworld installment was… decent at first, but time and successive viewings have generally changed my opinion. Once it was my second favorite after the original, but now it’s somewhere at the approximate level of whale shit, so you get my point. The vaguely negative feeling left in my gut by the Underworld Time Warp or whatever the hell the third movie was called rubbed off on to this one.
I even missed the first five minutes of the movie, thanks to an untimely, but emergency call that sent me scampering out of the theater (I LEFT the theater, then answered the call. Those of you on your phone in the damned theater, take note). I walked back in to a wee bit of grainy chaos, treated to the human reaction to the presence of vampires and werewolves among them. Truth, I thought this was realistic. We tend to freak the hell out whenever confronted with the strange, unusual, and even the unfamiliar, so watching folks run around spraying colloidal silver on folks or flashing them with UV lights made a strange kind of sense.
Some things have changed in the well, Underworld. It’s not just the human awareness of and violent reaction to the vamps and lycans. Vamps and lycans both are different, they’re violentier in the same way that Matt Damon was Matt Damonier in the last Bourne flick. Awakening represents a massive step towards grainier footage and bloodier combat between, well, pretty much everyone. It’s like a 90-minute salute to Archer’s last season Terms of Enrampagement, but much, much better.
They’ve managed a fairly logical story progression, both within the movie and through the franchise. I have to say that I’m impressed that I walked away this happy from the fourth installment of such a silly set of movies. Generally by now, I’m walking away feeling disappointed and ill at ease. There are some really amazing scenes in this movie, particularly the underwater scene and basically anything to do with the elevator. The guy I went to see this said they probably blew half their budget on the four minutes in that thing.
There’s no reason to see this on 3D or IMAX or anything like that. I only saw three or four small parts that would have been cool on 3D (I don’t really see that well in 3D, so I don’t always notice what you folks are reaching for, although I can usually spot the things that will get your attention). The cast is well, pretty typical for one of these movies. I’m wondering where they get all these vaguely central European-looking folks, but not enough to go look.
Basically, this is fun, but there’s not much substance to it. If you want to see Kate Beckinsale in a leather catsuit beating the crap out of men twice her size, this is the place to do it. I know it’s why I went.