‘Underworld Awakening’ Review

Published 3 years ago by , Updated November 27th, 2014 at 3:56 pm,

Underworld Awakening starring Kate Beckinsale Review Underworld Awakening Review

As this film proves: sometimes it’s better to quit while you’re ahead.

True to its title, Underworld Awakening (aka Underworld 4) finds Selene (Kate Beckinsale) waking up 12 years after humanity’s discovery and “purging” of the vampire and Lycan (werewolf) hordes living in their midst. Selene finds herself in a world where vamps and wolves are near extinction, and humans keep tight control of things, methodically searching for and destroying the last of “the infected.”

However, before Selene can even get her bearings she is swept up in a rescue mission involving a young girl named Eve (India Eisley), who is more powerful than anyone imagined. It’s up to Selene to protect Eve from those who would harm her – be they human, Lycan, or the vampire coven itself.

Underworld 4 looks and feels like an extended TV episode, rather than a big-budget feature film. This is mainly due to the amateurish direction of Swedish duo Måns Mårlind and Björn Stein, whose primary experience is in directing TV, as it so happens. The film is nothing more than a string of action sequences and cheap set-pieces, often shot at wide angles that reveal the elementary (and by now, routine) fight choreography. Cheap CGI effects make the blood spatter, superhuman feats and supernatural creatures look no better than something you might see on an episode of Supernatural or True Blood.

The directors’ lack of skill is even more pronounced thanks to the 3D format of the film: at such wide angles, a lot of Underworld Awakening looks like a Gothic pop-out puppet show set on a drab stage. At their moderate skill level, Mårlind and Stein really had no business working with 3D cameras: why add bells and whistles when you haven’t even grasped the action movie basics?

Underworld Awakening Selen vs. Flamethrower Underworld Awakening Review

Kate Beckinsale as Selene in ‘Underworld Awakening’

The script for the first Underworld succeeded in creating a rich (if not slightly convoluted) mythology, as well as some interesting and complex characters. The sequel made the mythos a little too convoluted, but this fourth film suffers from the opposite problem: it’s half-cooked and feels more like the pilot episode of an Underworld TV series than the fourth chapter in a movie franchise. A variety of writers worked on the script – including Underworld director Len Wiseman and Thor writer J. Michael Straczynski – but it’s hard to see where that combined effort was spent.

The movie begins with a cheaply-staged and very rushed glimpse at the vampire/Lycan “purge” (which could’ve been a movie in itself) before we jump to Selene waking up, finding Eve, and… that’s about it. The film runs out of steam somewhere in the second act, and settles for a cheaply-staged and predictable third act battle that might impress a TV audience, but is painfully unworthy as a 3D theatrical spectacle.

Underworld Awakening India Eisley as Eve Underworld Awakening Review

India Eisley as Eve in ‘Underworld Awakening’

The film also attempts to throw a “twist” into the third act, but not only is it obvious (as are all of the so-called “twists” in this film),  it largely negates the premise that distinguishes Awakening from its predecessors (vampires and Lycans having a common enemy in humanity). There is almost no development of character or narrative (just a lot of fight sequences), no thematic arcs, and a lot of the plot contrivances are so pronounced and silly that it’s hard to take the movie seriously, even as an Underworld film. While some would say that the door is purposefully left wide open for another sequel, it feels more like this half-cooked story never bothers to explore or make good on the many plot threads it introduces.

Kate Beckinsale is still in her prime as a gorgeous action starlet, and there was a lot of room for her character to experience some real development across the course of the story. Unfortunately, Selene reacts to her new circumstances with such unflinching stoicism that it’s hard to become invested in anything that’s happening. In one scene, Eve actually confronts Selene about how “cold” she is, offering Beckinsale an opportunity to display some true emotion – which she does with such monotone, deadpan delivery that it is hilariously ironic (and not in a good way).

The supporting cast consists of actors hissing through fangs (Theo James as David, Selene’s only vampire ally) or growling through fur and black eyes (Kris Holden-Reid as a ‘super Lycan’), while Eve runs around doing both. It’s all pretty ridiculous, and none of the characters are as rich or interesting as those that have been featured in previous installments.

Michael Ealy in Underworld Awakening Underworld Awakening Review

Michael Ealy in ‘Underworld Awakening’

Michael Ealy plays detective Sebastian, a human cop who actually has a bit of depth to him; unfortunately, his role is pretty much relegated to holding a weary stare as he watches the supernatural madness taking place around him. Similarly, Game of Thrones star Charles Dance brings some acting chops to his bit role as “Thomas,” lord of one of the last vampire covens. However, like Ealy, Dance is given little to do with his talents.

If you’re a fan of the first Underworld film, but thought the sequel (Evolution) and the prequel (Rise of the Lycans) were diminished efforts, you won’t find redemption in this fourth installment. However, if you’ve enjoyed all of the films for what they are, you’ll probably get a bit of enjoyment out of this one as well. If you’ve never been a fan of watching vampires and werewolves battling it out, but were perhaps curious about this particular film: don’t waste the time or money, because your curiosity will only be rewarded with disappointment.

As this film proves: sometimes it’s better to quit while you’re ahead.

Underworld Awakening is now playing in 2D, 3D and IMAX 3D theaters.

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Our Rating:

2 out of 5

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  1. I thought Underworld Awakeings was Awesome!:) and I have seen all of them, this is my favorite by a long shot:) excuse me but I didn’t go to the theater wanting to see a long dramatic movie , I wanted to have some great escapism a way to forget about the stresses of real life and that’s what I saw:) if I want to see a long thought out drama, I’ll would watch a soap opera on tv:(

    • um? Jay Hodges, when you post something like three times, and call a guy a goofball, and tell everyone with different likes and dislikes, that 3D is the only way to go? That is something I expect my 13 year old to say. And I dont know if i would say this series is legendary? But it is great, I will give you that. But you should explain who the goofball is and why? And are we all to just agree with you? Just wondering. This way we can all just stay out of here and just wait for you to post your silly posts…..3D is awesome man!! yeah….way to go dude!!!

  2. Amen, Kofi! I was a huge fan of the original film. The second installment was “eh”. The third movie surprised me because I expected it to be absolute crap and wasn’t quite.

    But this movie…I was pissed off at it in about 2 minutes; however long it took for Selene’s monologue to finish. As far as I’m concerned, this movie is dead to me and doesn’t exist in the Underworld saga. I don’t have any hope of redemption for this series anymore, but if they do somehow manage to turn it around, i’m just going to pretend that Underworld IV never happened.

    • Duane,

      I loved the other films. But what the heck happend to her love interest? i know this seems silly but she risked everything in the first movie, and he helped her in the second and they walk off together. why would they have her asleep for 12 years, and then no Michael? that was her love interest and she betrayed her own kind to be with him. like sonya victors daughter. he killed her! so the fact selene was with Michael was just as important as any plot they had going. i was hoping to see them, plus maybe a little more of the same. that would have been fine. maybe a struggle of peace between the two. but there was no mention of michael who i believe to be just as important. look at the rise of the lycons. sonya even was in love with the lycon setting in motion a war. so as silly as it might sound, the love interest should be a part of this movie as well as any new plot they have. and i do like some drama with this series. it kind of had it all. so why do you think he was not in it and do you think it was a mistake? i think it was. the love interests were a key theme in how the plots and themes of both movies so far have gone before this one. well i should say the three before this one. i still have to see it but im thinking i wont. cause i really loved the other three……i dont want to be upset like i was with godfather 3…..

  3. I’m in the camp that enjoys these films for what they are, saw it last night thought it was great fun!

    • Damn right. Theyre made in a way of “fancy making another?”
      “yeah, why not!”
      They’re not serious, don’t take them that way!

  4. Wow…you expected WAY too much from this movie. This wasn’t the 4th installment of an Interview with a Vampire series. It was the 4th installment of a film franchise that was started by a creator/director who had literally zero film credit to his name before it.

    As a movie-goer, you don’t go into an Underworld movie expecting to see a ‘film’. You go into it expecting to see an ‘action flick’; and as a movie critic/reviewer you should know the difference.

    Sure there are plot holes, sure there is a lack of character development and plot depth. But come on, have more realistic expectations.

  5. Wow! For a reviewer, you don’t seem to know what you’re talking about! You obviously hate Underworld, anyway, so you shouldn’t have bothered to see this one. Then you have the nerve to put down tv audiences?! What is wrong with Supernatural and True Blood? I am sick of the elete-acting geeks who think films and tv shows have to be just like the comics or books they were based on! I will now see Underworld: awakening, because you put it down so badly, I know it’s probably good! Thank you…and Kate beckinsale is still hot!

    • It was. It was FREAKIN AWESOME!!!! Selena’s character is more bad ass than she’s EVER been in any of the other films and it comes off great! Of course this film won’t win an Oscar, but who the hell expects that from the UW franchise anyway? Lmao. It was GREAT FUN to watch! Definitely worth a 12.00 ticket.

      • heck yes you guys!!! I loved underworld and in IMAX it was amazing. The story was fantastic. I was bummed about Scott not being in it. But Kate was great and this was a excellent installment. The story an action was fantastic. :D

    • Funny that you claim I don’t know what I’m talking about BEFORE you see the movie. If you read the review, I like this franchise, just not this installment. It’s not really a good movie in my opinion. Nothing is wrong with Supernatural or True Blood, they just have the sort of SFX you see on TV not in MOVIES. Underworld 4 has similar effects.

    • Yup. I read this review before watching it thinking it was going to be Green Lantern. Instead, I got to see the best of the four movies. Have action lovers review action movies plz

  6. i went to see this yesterday and absolutely loved it. at first i wasn’t going to see it, because Scott Speedman wasn’t going to be in it, but the more i read about it, i had to go see it anyway. one of the producers have said that if there is a underworld 5, then Scott Speedman will be in it. one thing i’ve always loved about these movies is that they are fast-paced. the storyline was excellent and i liked the new character additions as well.

    there’s no doubt in my mind that there will be a 5th movie.

    • why was there no scott speedman in there? every movie had a love interest. think about it. it was part of the theme in the first one. selene went against her own kind for her love. the second, her love helped her. and they walked off together. also, in the third, sonya, also falls in love with a lycon and her father victor kills her. so, the love interests actually started the war. and they play a huge part in the theme to all the three movies. so i dont know why he wasnt in this one. but for me, it made no sense, and im not that interested from what im reading. what do they do? bring him back for part 5 and all of a sudden now they dont love each other? and for what reason? i dont get it…..i havent seen it but this is a key part for me along with the action and kate of course….i could watch her forever…..but it seems they put it together just to put it out there. the men these woman loved is what drove the plots, themes, and sub plots….he, scott needed to be in it…can someone tell me why he is not please?

  7. this movie was garbage. too much cgi, really cant have this movie without michael. this movie was poitless, really no need for this film. now the dead/living vampire can give birth, really taking the vampire/werewolf mythology to the outhouse with these underworld/twilight movies.

  8. why attack the reviewer? it’s just his opinion! I thought the review was fair, it seems like he’s not particularly a fan of the series but I would like to point out he did say – “if you’ve enjoyed all of the films for what they are, you’ll probably get a bit of enjoyment out of this one as well” and for my money, he’s right!

  9. Why are people calling Kofi out of his name? It’s his opinion. Forgive the guy who just wants a little substance out of his movies, something I cant really blame him about. Just because he wasn’t impressed by a hot chick in leather, some fangs, and a lot of explosions doesn’t mean you should berate him for it. He shouldn’t lower his expectations for anything, in fact It’s one of the reasons I respect this site seeing as its always consistent.

  10. When u dont know how to write a review please dont write reviews.You wrote that the cgi is cheap in underworld awakening.Really?????The cgi really is very good.And the acting of kate is extraordinaray.And all others actors performed well.It has all the contents what you expect from a 3d movie.Kate beckinsale keep rocking with the underworld series!!!!We love you and your acting.

  11. Just came back from seeing it and while I liked it,I think that the reviewer does have some valid criticisms of the movie.

    Personally,I enjoyed it for the action and of course for Kate,but I will be the first to admit that the whole thing seemed to be a bit cheap feeling.The CG was pretty sub par,but not terrible,and the story itself was pretty rudimentary.

    I will say that I thought that this one is better than 3,just because of the Kate factor,but not better than the first two which seemed to have a richer mythos attached to them.It seems like Kofi was alluding to The Purge would’ve made a more interesting story,and I tend to agree,but it seems that this movie was hampered by budget restraints to do so.

    I didn’t bother with the 3D version but the sound was horrible in the AMC where I saw it,which usually has pretty good sound across the board,so I don’t know if it was just that particular print that I saw,or if all of the 2D versions are like that.

    3 stars for me.Kate in skin tight leather gets two stars alone,the action gets the other star,but the lack of this movie feeling like it was really connected to the others prevent me from giving it anymore,along with the overall small time feel of it.

    I just might see it again in 3D just to see if it’s a better experience to do so.

  12. not my favorite but it was enjoyable. the begining was the best part of the film, and i liked seeing actuel villain lycans for a change, would however love to see a Female Lycan character?????and finish this franchise off with one more sequel.i then say return to the past and make a origins story of the Corvinus family, victor,and his wife have william as the hero falling for victor wife and trying to control his change into a werewolf only for victor to find out about him and his wife to kill her and cause william to change forever and marcus trying to protect him.

  13. also Kate was the best thing about the film. and the preview to resident evil sucked sorry my opinion and i wish they would stop making Resident evil film unless they remake it with a great story.

  14. Unless they’re following a book series like Lord Of The Rings….They should stop after two…..Although I did like the third in this series it generally seems that any franchise loses momentom after the sequal so by the forth I generally don’t expect too much

    • Then again…She is poured into that cat suit….So I’ll probably check it out anyway once it comes to HBO

  15. I was just really dissapointed by the decision not to bring back Scott Speedman. If they weren’t going to have Scott in it, they should NEVER have shown Michael at all.

    And i’m getting a bit tired of Lycans always being the bad guys. The Vampires were the ones who enslaved the Lycans, but Vampires are always portrayed much more sympathetically, except in Rise of the Lycans.

    • Are you nuts? How are you saying the Lycans are always the bad guys?!? In my view, Lucian was portrayed as heroic in all three of the first films. Raze was pretty close, too. (Since Grevieux was the author, this should not be surprising.)

      The character Lycan’s were painted with much more dignity than the dilettante and arrogant vampires.

      In the fourth film, I am left incredulously wondering why the vampires haven’t embraced “medical science” (in the context of the series’ mythology) to effectively combat the Lycans.

  16. This bad review, and a number of other bad/mixed reviews (elsewhere) have me really down :(

    I was so looking forward to this movie.

    Now I don’t know if I will simply wait for the DVD/Bluray… it’s actually cheaper for me to buy the film on Bluray when it comes out than to see it in the theatre.

    • if you like the other films.. go see this one its good!

  17. Im a huge fan of the Underworld series, but not a huge fan of 3D. The first couple 3D scenes seemed a little too animated. The story line could of been a little stronger and longer. As the movie went on, and some of the 3D was spaced out it only got better. Overall this movie was BADASS.. the action was amazing! Out of all the movies this one is the most exciting and has the most action! Kate didn’t take an prisoners and went completely hardcore! I just wish they didn’t use the fake “Michael” in the movie. Im going to give the movie 4.5 because of fake Michael and also because of the new character David he is BAD. If Michael doesn’t come back Selene should definitely get with David.

  18. I thought the film was cool, but I would have enjoyed it more if I wasn’t forced to see it in 3D. It made the film soo dark I couldn’t tell what was going on most of the time.

  19. Ok, I liked the first 3, and i agree that if they werent going to use speedman in this one, that they shouldnt have used them at all. My biggest complaint is now that she has this gift where she can withstand sunlight, and now revive dead vampirres, why wasnt there an emphasis from the elder of tht clan or a following from that clan after she bought the vampire back to life? Will she rebuild all vampires so they all can be day walkers. Now she’s got a hybrid kid. I felt they messed this movie up and it was a bit predictable inthe ending and when Michael broke free, why didnt he find them instead of run off? Just saying some of these are rreasons why I didnt like the film

    • There were a few loose holes like you said. Putting emphasis on her making the existing vampires daywalkers , why did the lycans want to breed with her daughter instead of the vampires and what about the vaccines? Still enjoyed the movie though.

  20. I bet if this were Twilight you would rave. Sorry, I’ll take Underworld any day over any other vampire/lycan based movie and this one didn’t disappoint me at all with the exception of one or two loose holes which I am sure will be tied up in the 5th installment.
    It was action packed from the begining and loved the twist of the daughter/mother duo. Underworld keeps the mythology aspect of it going even if it is not factual in nature, it’s still a good plot. I enjoyed every minute of it and will remain a Underworld movie fan until I die.

    • when I think of vampires and werewolves, i think of the Howling, or american werewolf in london, Bramstokers dracula or interview with a vampire, so forgive me if I’m not pleased with the new concepts or the direction their taking this genre. this last movie was different, not as good as the first 3 in my opinion.
      And i would never insult anyones opinion as to how they viewed the movie, if you paid your money to see it, then you have the right to your opinion.

    • tracey,

      Yes, we are all HUGE Twilight fans here – just ask any of our regular readers.



  21. I watched all four, and i enjoyed all! So this time, they focused more on the kicking and fighting. and HEY! that was the best part of it! and i dont have anything against the effects, it fits just right. :-) awesome movie, a must watch!

  22. Does Selene still the strongest of all the vampires from drinking Corvinus’s blood or did they forget that part?

    • She showed that when she stuck her bleeding hand in the chest of the dead vampire and brought him back to life.
      So although she’s a vampire /death dealer and knows the rtruth about vampires killing her family, why do she still attack the lycans like they’re at fault. She should almost be nuetral?

    • I also think that she should be stronger or better than even the hybrids, after drinking corvinus blood, she handled marcus with ease, not to mention he was stronger than michael becase he was an elder, micheal never drank the blood from corvinus, marcus or Victor, his change came from 2 bites (Lucian/Selene)and the fact that he was in the corvinus bloodline

  23. I watched the movie yesterday, it was really BAD one, inconsistent story, and I payed even more for 3D and wide screen, it is not worth to watch these movies anymore.

  24. See, this is why I ignore movie critics. They simply do NOT get it, and wouldn’t know how to handle having a good time at a movie like this if their lives depended on it. We go to movies like this to get away from the real world and to see a lot of cool action, horror, monsters and … FUN. I saw the movie Friday night and the theater was packed. No one had a bad thing to say about it and I personally can’t wait for the next one!

    • If we pay our money to see a movie other than to get away from the real world, the we have the right to voice our opinion about the product we just paid for. Dont make it sound like its a great honor for them to throw together a bunch of B/s and we should be pleased with it. if youre going to tell me a story to distract me from the madness of the real world, it better be good or leave it alone, especially if i’m overpaying for it.

  25. If you like the others go see this one its good, however i like to see thing s get wrapped up so after they make another sequel, and a origins story they should end it. another thing i feel this is the first time we actually see villian lycans. i for one only remember seeing maybe two lycan woman lucian’s mother and one breifly in the new film, i would love to see a bad @$$ lycan chick to go up against selen, and maybe some genetically enhanced Hybrids.

  26. I was disappointed in this film. I loved the characters Viktor, Lucian, Kraven..ect. They were all so interesting. There is no one intersting in this movie. I was mad after reading this review because I love the first movie but this guy is right. I’m surprised Kate Beckinsale actually did this movie. I give the first one a 9 out of 10. This one 6 only because Selene is hot.

  27. I don’t have the time or interest to watch all movies people talk about. Neither do any of my close friends. I usually go here first and check “what’s supposed to be good and what’s not”. 9/10 I agree with Screen Rant’s ratings on movies. However it seems to me that you have missed the point of this type of film, Kofi. I too was extremely tired of mindless action back in the late -90′s due to, well, all action movies being like that at the time (except for a solid few). It’s quite the opposite nowadays as movies in genereal tend to focus a lot more on plot and story once again.

    This movie you’ve just reviewed is probably for those who enjoy that “mindless” action. I can honestly say that when in the right mood I still do. When I’ve come home from a tough day at work, these types of movies suit me perfectly.

  28. Can’t wait till the sequel. this movie was totally badass.

  29. I believe it should have been called ‘the incredible lycon’.

    What was with the ‘super villain’ hulk of a wolf? I agree about resident evil as this series is headed. I guess we can add Kate to the list of women sell outs, such as the resident evil woman and the truest of all, Segorny Weaver. Alien 29 anyone? I know they may be under contract, but I feel she should have let them sue her if she didn’t do this one.

    This movie didn’t fit the universe they created. It was a resident evil with vampires and lycons. And what was with the kid? Maybe they mentioned how she came about, I don’t remember, but I didn’t know dead things could have kids, or even if a test tube, how do they explain they are not supposed to age?

    The 3D was silly any chance to serve a cup of coffee to the audience they took. The story and director sucked. I hope Kate’s career suffers for this. We follow stars hoping they do good work but this, this was just a pay check.

    I feel so violated. I can’t get my money back or the time I wasted.

    • It’s not really that they are dead, it’s more that they are immortal. Because she does restart Michael’s heart in the second film I think as well as the male vampire’s heart in the fourth one. I rather liked the film, myself. It is different from the others though.