David Dodd 10:32 a.m., May 25
Review: Underworld: Awakening
I dunno, guys. I had a lot more fun at Underworld: Awakening than I had any reason to expect I would. All the stuff that's bad about this vampires vs. werewolves series (blueness, bloatedness, Byzantine plotting) is still bad, and now poor Kate Beckinsale has to pretend that it hasn't been nine years since the original (though she can still wear the vinyl catsuit). "Glare, Ms. Beckinsale. Now crouch. Rise - slowly, slowly! Stand. Now walk. Good! Bring in the stunt double!"
But somehow, it's more fun this time around? I mean, once you get past the lumbering, expository start? How much did I love Charles Dance as overprotective Vampire Dad? Dance (upper left) looked and played it like a fantastic mix of Ian Richardson as Mr. Book in Dark City (upper right), Basil Rathbone as Menacing Presence in So Many Movies (lower left), and Peter Cushing in every Hammer film ever (lower right). I do love when distinguished Brits slum it with a straight face. And not just Brits - the Irish show up as well! How good was Stephen Rea as the heartless medical man tasked with wiping out the vampire/lycan "infections" from the human race? Answer: so good! So low key, but all the more chilling because of it.
Talking of Hammer films, the werewolves in this movie were...good, in a retro sort of way. I'm as tired as the next guy of CGI monsters jumping around and roaring their generic roars. But for some reason, when three lycans assaulted a van carrying Selene, a handsome vampire stud, and a Very Special Someone, I was...not quite scared, but alarmed. And the big bad guy at the end? I know this will sound like blasphemy, but: shades of Harryhausen and The Howling. He just felt, I dunno, solid. And nasty.
So never mind the whole "government crackdown" angle - or mind it, whichever. Chuckle at the teenager cutting herself, only to see the cuts heal instantly - or don't. Definitely don't pay for 3D. This is not a film to invest in, but it might possibly be a film to enjoy - if you're into that sort of thing.
Reader rating: two somewhat tongue-in-cheek stars