Regular readers of this blog will know how I feel about sequels. And 3D. Unfortunately, this installment of the Underworld cycle fulfils all the worst parts of both.
Selene is back, awakened after 12 years in cryo-sleep in a research facility. She’s lost Michael (Scott Speedman) but gained a daughter (India Eisley). The previous Underworld films were pretty good, I actually really enjoyed Rise of the Lycans, because sometimes, when one storyline has reached a good stopping point (at the end of Underworld: Evolution), there are other aspects of the world to still explore. In Awakening, it appears that the only aspect of Selene and Michael’s story left to explore was what would happen if the film was given a seemingly unlimited effects budget (not a good thing here) and no money for an actual storyline.
For all brief 88 minutes of Awakening (and believe me, it feels much longer) we are treated to uncountable shots of Selene diving in slow motion and full rubber-cat-suited 3D out of windows, off ledges, at Lycans, humans, out of the way of cars, bullets etc – pretty much any excuse to leap and dive and fly gracefully through the air really. This wouldn’t be a problem, if the story warranted the effects, but Awakening is an excellent example of a film where story plays second or even third fiddle to the effects. Yes, Lycan’s transforming into full wolf-ish forms is impressive in slo-mo 3D, but it doesn’t warrant a whole film.
The ending left things open and set for another installment – I can only hope that for that one they remember that they’re supposed to be telling a story, as well as making it look good.