Underworld: Awakening Review

This review is of the edited TV-14 version of the film. All thoughts below should be addressed as such as a review of the unedited version would be more negative

This may be the last Underworld review for a little while but it’s been an intense marathon to be sure. Awakening takes the series in a pretty solid direction as I would say it is the best title in the series so far. Now I suppose this is fairly relative as you’ll notice that there really isn’t much of a change in score.

The movie starts with the government finally deciding to step in. Now this is a plot I had definitely been looking forward to because you know that these guys are going to tip the scales. They don’t disappoint either. We learn that they have immediately wiped out virtually all of the Werewolves and even the Vampires are in hiding with only a small handful of bases left. The humans have won once more as always. They even managed to take down Selene and Michael with incredible ease.

12 years have passed and Selene is freed from her deep slumber. She doesn’t know who has freed her and why but now she wants to find Michael before it’s too late. She goes around slaughtering all the humans in her way but is no closer to finding him. She then meets up with a little girl who seems to have mysterious powers and a vampire named David. Together they will locate Michael but they also have to keep Eve (the little girl) safe as she is being hunted.

There’s a lot of action throughout in this film. After all, Selene is now powered by the elders so her power has grown exponentially. She is effectively on par with the hybrids now which is a pretty good power bump. Then you have the fact that she was already one of the most experienced Death Dealers and the villains need to watch out. The war between the vampires and werewolves is over. At this point everyone is scrambling for survival.

I had a feeling that this would be the best film early on. When Selene broke out of the test tube it was like something out of Resident Evil when Alice remembered everything and started a massacre. That’s pretty much how this plays out and it feels like Selene has the highest body count yet. She is not taking any prisoners at all and it’s nice to finally see her using these abilities well. It’s Selene’s best appearance by a longshot.

Fans of Michael from the first two films likely won’t enjoy that he is written out so quickly though. The guy gets less than a minute of screen time here and doesn’t look great. There’s a scene near the end where you have to question what he’s doing. He really didn’t think this one through. Now there is some extra context in the next film that you may feel retcons things to an extent or if not, it’s at the very least a little implausible how this would have went down.

The new main guy is David and he’s pretty solid. He may not be quite as powerful as Michael but he’s determined and does well at defying his vampire community to help Selene out. Then you have Eve who is pretty powerful. She isn’t quite old enough yet to really be able to know what she’s doing like the others but she does take down her share of enemies. Her berserker stage can definitely hold its own with the other characters.

As you can probably guess the fights are on point here. Any time Selene is beating up on the fighters with her twin gun style or just using some hand to hand it’s pretty impressive. I had a bit of a hard time believing that the super wolf at the end could give her so much trouble though. I guess we needed some tension or it would be too easy though. It did make for a great final fight.

At its core this is why the film exceeded the others. It had the best action easily and I would also say the story was the best even if it’s a lot lighter than the others. In terms of scope and mystery then the first film wins but this one was really a good revenge story about her search for Michael. As I mentioned, the army’s involvement was also pretty solid and I like how easily they were able to end this war. It had been raging for hundreds of years among the the two species but the government ended it in 12.

That’s really impressive. It would have been nice to see a bit more of them since they effectively vanish but I think we’re supposed to know that they still have the edge at this point. The vampires need to lie low for a while and the Lycan have been all but exterminated in the meantime. If anything this would have worked rather well as the final Underworld film even with the loose ends that stuck around.

Of course it wouldn’t be Underworld without incredible amounts of gratuitous violence at all times. The series likes to give the fighters as many gruesome injuries as possible before ultimately blowing them up. Because both species have regenerative abilities it allows the films to really go all out in having them get thrown around. If you would just tone down the violence, blood sucking, and biting then this series could have really ended up being close to top notch.

You could probably stand to fix some of the power levels a bit too. After a while Hybrids don’t seem to special if they can be taken out with one hit and how is Selene being overwhelmed by a giant wolf like that? She should still be able to win with pure skill the whole time. The way she defeated the final opponent was quite clever though so it was nice to add some strategy to the mix.

Overall, Underworld: Awakening feels like it has gone back to the roots of the series. We get a lot of excellent visuals and the city is back in the forefront. We get to see the world’s reaction to the beasts which is cool although it would have been even better if they were thrown in a court room or something. Selene’s investigation into what happened to Michael also makes for a great story beat. We’ll see if the series can continue this one’s momentum. While it may be kept as far away from the top as ever, at this point you’re invested in seeing how it all goes down.

Overall 2/10

Underworld Evolution Review

This review is of the edited TV-14 version of the film. All thoughts below should be addressed as such as a review of the unedited version would be more negative

Time to delve into the sequel to the original Underworld film. It was a film with a very interesting concept. While the movie ultimately ran into a lot of issues, it did capture your attention. Evolution switches things up quite a bit. Ultimately I would say the first film wins but it’s fairly close and the film did some unexpected moves which I thought was admirable.

The movie picks up right away with Selene and Michael still on the run from the vampires. They need to find Markus since he is the last remaining elder alive. Now….they know for a fact he is back at the mansion where the first film’s climax is so why are they searching? Presumably Selene is suckering Michael so she can leave him at the safe house and go on a solo mission but it seemed at least for a bit like they were going to legitimately search. I dunno, just one of those things I guess.

Well, either way they won’t have to search for long. Markus awakens and murders Kraven before attacking Selene. Fortunately she and Michael are able to fight him off. Markus’ main objective is to awaken his brother, the king of the werewolves known as William. Together they can rule the world and create an army of hybrid warriors. Can Selene possibly stop such a powerful threat?

Compared to the first film, this one’s more of an isolated adventure. The war isn’t really the focus here so it’s more of a direct “Stop Markus at all costs” adventure for the heroes. I suppose without Lucian the Werewolves don’t really have a whole lot of backup anyway though so it’s in their best interests to let the vampires destroy themselves. Selene is a little more distracted here than in the first film since Michael still plays a main role. They need to bump that guy off already.

He hasn’t really improved from the first film. Additionally, he may be a hybrid but the guy is still getting absolutely wrecked when he fights another powered up fighter. His super speed from the first film appears to be gone as well. None of the fights in this film are quite able to match up to the climax of the first and I miss some of the bigger gun fights but we do have more battles between the metahumans hybrids so that’s always nice to see.

There’s still quite a bit of action here to be sure. Hopefully Michael ends up getting more of a personality for the third film. Getting weakened and having to drain Selene’s blood isn’t really doing him any favors. As for Selene, she finally gets a power up here which is nice to see. I can only see this being a net positive for her since it means she should be able to dominate most of the cast now. Very few fighters should be able to match up to this level of strength.

As for Markus, he’s not nearly as impressive as Viktor. The guy is strong but you don’t get the feeling that he is worlds away from the others as you did with Viktor. His final fight with Selene is pretty good though. The guy may not seem like much of a hero but I suppose at the very least I’ll give him points for being very consistent about wanting to help William. The poor guy’s been locked up for hundreds of years which is crazy when you think about it. I suppose Werewolves don’t need food the way that vampires do or he would have really been shriveled up by now. William doesn’t really have any character though as he’s a pure wolf meaning he is basically mindless. He only has just enough of a mind to know not to attack Markus.

Underworld: Evolution falls into most of the same cinematic traps as the first film. The violence is quite over the top with all of the characters being hacked to pieces and dying in rather gruesome ways. Nobody ever gets a really happy ending in these things when you consider just how much they had to go through first. The fact that the film’s about Vampires and Werewolves means you’re going to see both species biting into each other the whole time.

There’s also a lot of blood sucking which is always annoying and rather gruesome. Now that this film shows it as the main way to see memories you can expect to see it a whole lot more often than usual. Mix in Michael’s low stamina and you’ll have more scenes of it as well. Some horses even get mixed up in the action which is sure to have you shaking your head.

The memory absorption also creates a rather big plot hole to the first film I have to say. Viktor did not believe Selene initially about Kraven because the transfer was blurry. All right…so he could have bitten her at any time to read her mind and didn’t? Clearly this wasn’t thought of until the sequel but it definitely creates a bit of an issue there. Not the biggest thing of course but it’s an element that still sticks out.

One of the biggest disappointments has to be Alexander here though. So this guy has a whole government force working for him as he silences the truth about the war between the supernatural forces. As the father to both leaders he wants to stay neutral. That’s all well and good but he should have incredible abilities right? Well, not really since the guy goes down to a single hit and never even looks slightly intimidating. Now that’s a quick way to make this guy as underwhelming as possible. If he doesn’t want to fight that’s fine, but allowing yourself to get messed up like that? It’s pretty unfortunate to the men who worked for him. I’m still waiting to see a true human force show up to mess with both sides.

Overall, Underworld: Evolution is pretty similar to the first film. So if you liked the original then you should like this one as well. It’s not trying to tackle a lot of the more ambitious plot setups as the first one and is going for more of an outdoorsy vibe than the cool city aesthetic with the characters prowling around. I’d like to see more of a return to form when the sequel comes up but I suppose it’s rather relative since I don’t see the film fixing any of its core issues in the near future. For now this is still a series to skip. With all of the vampire elders down for the count I’m expecting some secret Vampire King or something. If not, perhaps Selene can rule them now since there’s nobody who could possibly oppose her right? Have Michael rule the Wolves and then just like that they will rule the whole planet. Having them join forces against aliens or something would be awesome.

Overall 2/10

Underworld Review

This review is of the edited TV-14 version of the film. All thoughts below should be addressed as such as a review of the unedited version would be more negative

I’ve certainly been aware of the Underworld series for a long time. After all, I saw all of the Resident Evil movies and this has always been its biggest rival. The question is if it could possibly defeat that title. The Resident Evil films typically scored around a 2 so it’s not like that should be a tall order except that vampires tend to be just as bad as zombies if not more so. Ultimately Underworld is about what you would expect and I’d say it’s losing to Resident Evil so far but I am early on in the franchise.

The movie starts with introducing us to the situation on the planet. A war between the Wolves and Vampires has been raging on forever. The vampires have effectively won the war as their numbers greatly overshadow that of the Wolves but they still have to take down the stragglers. The first scene is Selene and a few of the vampire warriors attacking one of the Wolves, but this turns out to be a trap and most of the Vampires are defeated. Selene tells the vampire leader Kraven that they need to take this seriously but he doesn’t care. What can a few Wolves do right?

Meanwhile on the Wolf side, the leader Lucian is planning his big assault to take the Vampires down. His side has been relying on hit and run tactics for a while since they can’t win in a full frontal assault but now he may be able to use a more direct approach. His lead scientist has come up with a special kind of bullet that can destroy a vampire in a single bullet. Mix that in with the vampires’ complacency and now he has a fighting chance. Everything will come down to the human known as Michael. Whichever side obtains him first may end up winning the war as his blood is special.

Selene is the main character here but while you may assume that it means the vampires are the heroes here, the film is quick to remind you that is not the case. Both sides are as corrupt as can be so there are no good guys. Whoever wins, it is still not good for humanity. At least Selene has some sense of justice and duty compared to most but ultimately since she is working for the villains that makes it hard to root for her either. After all, at the end of the day any accomplishments she has will go over to the rest of the group.

As a main character Selene is decently good. I would say she easily beats most of the characters in this film in terms of being likable although since I don’t like most of the characters that may not be saying much. There will likely be a lot of comparisons between her and Alice from Resident Evil as they use similar outfits, weapons, and even their abilities seem similar. They’re both analytical fighters and try to keep up a tough front. Right now Alice is certainly winning in the head to head though as she ultimately doesn’t falter the way Selene doesn’t.

Selene has a scene where she faints after talking tough to Michael which really destroyed her credibility there. Additionally, despite being one of the tough assassins among the vampires, she doesn’t tend to win a lot of fights except against unnamed minions. For example, she was losing against Raze and was unable to take him down in the opening fight. She got a hit on Lucian but was unable to take him out before the guy bit Michael and had to hastily retreat. She was completely no match for Viktor in the end and had to rely on some help.

Now, it’s not as if she is amped up past normal vampire abilities so it makes sense that she wouldn’t be stomping everyone but Alice had a tendency to hit above her weight class. Selene will need to do something similar to move on. All that said, I do like her as a character particularly because of her confidence. She is willing to follow her plans through even if it puts her at odds with the other characters.

Kraven doesn’t make for a good villain though. The guy complains a whole lot and isn’t much of a fighter. He’s only good at sneak attacks and his plans aren’t even that good. Lets say his plan had gone without a hitch, does he really think things would end well for him? The wolves would tear into him at any time. Nothing about his plan made any sense so the guy got real lucky. His obsession with Selene doesn’t help matters either.

Then you have Lucian who does his best to be an interesting villain at least but ultimately the attempt fell apart. The guy just didn’t really stick out and the way he goes down was just sad. Did he not see that coming? His right hand man Raze was a lot more impressive and may have been the best wolf. He looked really good in the opening scene and was really taking down a lot of fighters. He can look back at his achievements proudly.

Michael is the main human here but the guy doesn’t have much of a personality at all. He’s just some guy who gets roped into this and doesn’t really have any feelings about it. The guy is constantly overwhelmed. The romance with him and Selene is also pretty bad, the idea of them getting together so suddenly just doesn’t work and it’s especially a bad idea for him to fall for her. Put it this way, vampires do tend to take prey from time to time and there’s no reason for Michael to assume he would be any different. For all he knew he would just get drained dry so the guy comes off as kind of desperate. Definitely wasn’t a fan of his.

Finally there is Viktor who is one of the Vampire Elders. His strength is immense and it’s easy to see why the vampires had been winning the war with him in charge. This guy is lethal and doesn’t spare any of his opponents. He just goes in and gets the job done without any issues. That’s the kind of guy who commands respect in the end. He’s absolutely twisted and a villain through and through but at least he’s one who can fight.

Ultimately Underworld may have an interesting premise of this war going on but it can’t save the film. I like the idea of introducing two factions and then slowly we see them all converge at the end. It’s good but the massive issues here just tend to come with the genre and style this film is going for. First off, the violence is incredibly over the top. There are a ton of violent moments that will have you shaking your head at how gratuitous they are.

In general that’s part of why Vampire and Werewolf media never really did it for me. Drinking blood and such is just disturbing and the Werewolf bites are always rather graphic. That’s why I was actually on board with both sides using bullets instead. It makes for more stylized fights that don’t tend to be nearly as gritty or violent. If the whole film focused purely on guns then the violence probably would be toned down although it probably wouldn’t matter if they would go in to finish each other off afterwards anyway.

At least the soundtrack is pretty hype though. You’ve got a lot of high intensity beats going on the whole time which helps amp up the battles. The visuals are also on point with the world looking like a normal planet and yet it’s a little extra colorful. The scenery when the heroes are in the town during the opening scene probably had some of the most impressive shots in the film. A rainy backdrop in the city can work quite well when used correctly.

Also aside from the gun fights we did get one true fight in the climax of the film. That was cool since it was like something out of a comic book movie with both characters throwing each other around. This one’s a bit older so you can see how the effects have aged in some instances. Characters sort of float through the air when they’re thrown or hit but it still works well in illustrating that these guys are much more powerful than the average fighter. The whole Speed vs Power match also did a good job of showing how the power could win in the end by tiring out the speedster. Personally I would usually take speed over power but it’s not an absolute.

Overall, The Werewolves seem completely doomed at the moment. They have no senior members that can hope to match up to a Vampire elder and their numbers were already small. I have to assume they have some kind of trump card in order to keep the series going. Otherwise the war will be over as early as the next film. That said, even if the story is interesting, the odds of the series actually working to get better is slim to none. Underworld is content to go for shock value and extra violence over taking the time to construct an excellent story. If you want to check out an interesting story of a war between two sides then you’re better off checking out Captain America: Civil War.

Overall 2/10