‘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 saw the movie on premiere night. I thought the movie was great. I didn’t see the other movies and still got hooked to it. I don’t like vampire movies like twilight and others. But this one is NOT like the rest. I would definitely recommend it.

    • i think i should try to watch it. the trailer is enticing but maybe i should prepare myself to lessen my expectation especially in the flow of the story.

      • yes prepare yourself. if you love the series, you will not be happy. but might as well keep up with it….

  2. So i just saw this movie and i must say it was rather horrible. The first Underworld was very good, the second one was good, and the third one was boring. Putting all that aside, if i had never seen the first 3 and walked in to see this one out of the blue i still would have to give it 2 thumbs down. First off what qualifies a movie to be 3D in Hollywood cause this one did not need it. Second the story just had too many holes in it. No Michael really??? I really think most people are morons if they think its a good movie. Decent action scenes, Cute chick in tight leather, and floppy storyline makes a good movie??

    • Ummmm, you think people who would enjoy this movie are morons? Yeah, ok. It’s called an opinion. You talk as if anyone who would enjoy a movie you wouldn’t is a moron and beneath you. People aren’t morons for enjoying a film you wouldn’t. Get over yourself.

    • i AGREE. and they are not morons. they just happen to be smarter than you like my 13 year old. this movie im sure is good. anything with kate is good. i think most of us who really love the series were expecting the key components to be there. like michael? lucian and michael were the biggest themes for these movies and series. love. as dumb as that sounds. victors daughter, he killed. selene, she loved michael for two films and went against her own kind. all three movies are about the love, and the hatred between the two kinds. but love is what started the war and the two men in their lives is what kept it all toghether. and now all of a sudden michael is not in there and some of you “lover of the series” think nothing of it. are you kidding me. this is not just opinion. can someone tell me why they think that is ok when michael was a main focus for the movies for selene, and lucian and sanya which started the whole war? why is that ok? i have heard mostly bad. can someone at least tell me why speedman (michael) was not in this movie? i heard he would be in the next one if there is one. but what happend….i dont mind other opinions. that is fun. but people seem to be missing the point.

  3. I took my family to see this at the IMAX/3D/HD screen and wished they’d have left the 3D alone. it ruined the HD. I enjoyed the film for what it was, but the super Lycan needed to be explained. They most def could have tricked him out better. I mean, the monsters in “Attack the Block” looked scarier.
    I dug the fight scenes. At least they weren’t all head and shoulder angles like you see in many American fights (Bourne and Batman series).

  4. I thought it was good, the only thing that didn’t make sense were the lycans. Who were they? Were they lycan elders? Where did they come from? Who was the elder vampire dude? Where did he come from? Plus, if you think about the Rise of the lycans there has to be a sequal to that movie. Remember, the historian vampire was in the boat with 3 or 4 coffins. Looking at trilogies movie franchises, i think the producers writers, etc should study trilogy movies such as the Matrix and Lord of the Rings, all of which are consistent from 1st to the last movie. If you haven’t seen it, go see it. I give it a B-.

  5. If you liked the earlier Underworld films, or if you haven’t seen them but enjoyed the Resident Evil movies, then you’ll like this one too.

  6. I absolutely loved the movie it tied up so many things and the super lycans was not a mystery because this movie gave the Lycans equally strong connections to the civilized industrial world like the vampires and if they revealed everything in the movie then there would be no need for a sequel and also the purge was a great idea to put lycans behind that because now it give the lycans a chance to actually have a hierarchy and also the next movie could reveal that the lycans in Awakening are the Werewolves Lucian taught to transform back into there human form making them even stronger than Lucian because they were bitten by William like viktor and amelia were strong because they were bitten by marcus or the sources making the though that all wolves who were bitten by William were dead obsolete and that they were thought for dead because lucian taught them how to calm themselves and change back and thus starting an Hiearchy like the vampires and make them branch off thus giving Selene and others a hard time . Overall I give the movie a A+

  7. the thing that gets me is Lucian tried to create a Hybrid to end the war right? he died after that and now the lycans and the vampires are still at war, and the lycans turned evil? man lucian would roll over in his grave. i would love to see them ends this with one more sequel. with that said i would also love to see them return to the past and show us the true origins maybe corvinus was a freak of nature and was granted a super intelect as well makeing him a super genetic scientist before his time?

    • I also want them too show the beginning starting with corvinus being born and then too his warlord days to his wife to marcus and william being born to william changing into a wolf to marcus changing to a vampire

  8. i just saw the underworld movie in 3d and loved it, kate at her best beautiful as ever, also the sound track was amazings. lets hope there is more to come….a++

  9. To: Michael A. Martin. Hi! Those “coffins in the boat” that you mentioned are the vampire elders and they are supposed to be “Two asleep, one awake at all times (according to Viktor in the first Underworld). The “Rise of the Lycans” is a prequel to “Underworld” and “Underworld Evolution”, so watch “Lycans” first, and then watch “Underworld” (and then “Evolution”). About 15 minutes into “Underworld”, you’ll see those coffins in the mansion. They are submerged in the floor in the room that has the three circles on the floor. Viktor is in one, Marcus is in the other, and I’m assuming that the third one is empty and is Amelia’s. You know, some of the greatest series ever made weren’t made “in order” (I’m thinking of Star Wars). If we’re in love with a series, we’ll take it in any order we can get and watch it over and over again. By the way, if you haven’t already seen it, I recommend “BloodRayne” I and II…don’t watch the third one…it’s horrble. Also, I’ve recently stumbled across “The Dresden Files” series and I really enjoyed that. “Red Riding Hood” and “Season of the Witch” were also fantastic.

    • To Colleen, thanks for writing. I’ve seen all of the underworlds and liked them all. What i was trying to say is that there is inconsistency with the stories and how they relate to one another not the order. I’m referring to the lycans and vampires. Who were the lycan elders and the vampire elders? None of these elders were mentioned in the 1st 3 underworlds. There has to be a sequal to the prequal (rise of the lycans) due to the coffins in the boat with the historian paddling up the river. Plus, there has to be a part 5 due to the ending. I was using Lord of the ring, Matrix and i can use Star Wars as a example of consistency. The producers and writers need to watch these classics to get an idea of consistency. I liked it (underworld awakening)and still i give it a B- (story) and the action A+++++.

      ps. Underworld is way better than Twilight!!!!!!

  10. Honestly I loved the movie and would pay to see it again. I was disappointed about the obvious…No Michael…but I do feel Kate delivered in this movie. Cheap? I didnt get that vibe. A must see…it appears everyone has different taste in movies but my sisters and I loved it!

  11. Loved it but it was too short,want more….KB delivered.

  12. After watching the first three Underworlds, Im Extremly disapointed in the 4th movie!! I would suggest that anyone who actually watched and like the first 3 movies not to wast a dime on this rip off they call a movie.

  13. This is a waste of time and money. should have just stopped at part 2.
    lame totaly lame!.

  14. This does not feel like an Underworld film, it is definitely missing something. The plot isn’t very interesting and there are similarities between this film and Resident Evil, as well as Blade. It lacked the quality that all the Underworld films have been defined by thus far. Humanity discovering the existence of Vampires and Lycans, changed this from being a wonderfully dark and mysterious series, to a generic blood & guts humans V monsters film. Obviously the fact that Scott Speedman doesn’t appear in this film as ‘Michael’ had some bearing on the quality. I didn’t feel the chemistry between Selene and her daughter, the whole script felt like a rushed, botched up job. It isn’t a bad film, it just didn’t feel like an Underworld film. Beckinsale looked stunningly gorgeous as you would expect, but I think the film tried too hard to be a ‘bad ass sexy vamp kicks arse’ film. There wasn’t enough substance. She reminded me of Alice from the Resident Evil films. Hope they make the neccessary changes for the next film.

  15. I am not a big fan of the Underworld concept and the movies. The first 3 Movies created some kind of atmosphere and offered some insight in the Underworld this one fails epically in those subjects.

  16. the directing wasn’t any worse than in the other uw-movies. the effects were not bad at all, but that’s just what it was; effects, almost the whole movie. the story and script was the problem.

  17. I really think this critics had a headache when they saw this movie… it was a great movie and I would honestly love to watch them doing better.. just because you´re to old to aprecciate good movies it doesn’t mean that tou have to judge so bad! Try to do better the next time…

  18. This movie is sensational! I don’t know what movie this reviewer saw, but I could not disagree with this review more strenuously. I loved the camera angles, the effects, the acting, the story and even the score. I thought the directors did a fabulous job and should be commended for their efforts.

    The fans of this genre know what is good and what they like. We don’t need someone who wants to appear clever by knocking what is maybe the best movie in the franchise. (By the way, this is one of the few bad reviews that I have read about this movie.)

    This is not a mainstream film. It is not for every taste out there. For the ones that love this franchise, it is epic.

  19. I loved this move as i did the last 3. I really can not wait for part 5.,,.,, I rate it a A++++

  20. I loved this move as i did the last 3. I really can not wait for part 5.

  21. felt more like a video game than a movie…
    Cutscene showing selene escape and then captured
    cryostasis is broken
    movement keys are taught

    and so on…
    Mission 1: Find out why an employee helped you escape
    Mission 2: Find the “one” with shared vision.
    Cutscene: Go to David father’s coven. Prepare for battle and watch the first lycans attack the coven.
    Mission 3: Protect Eve from Lycans
    Mission 4: Boss battle with Super-Lycan
    Cutscene: Revive David
    Mission 5: Find Detector Sebastian
    Cutscene: Chit-chat with Sebastian
    Mission 6: Break into Antigen
    Mission 7: Fight Lycans
    Cutscene: Selene finds Michael’s frost-chamber. Shoots a part of it.
    Misison 8: Fight as Eve against Evil Doctor
    Mission 9 Fight as Selene against Super-Lycan
    Cutscene: Chit-chat with Sebastian. Hear police siren noises. Go look for Michael in his frost-chamber. Discover he’s gone. Eve sees vision. Go to rooftop. Hint at a sequel.
    ACHIEVEMENT UNLOCKED: Finish game at any difficulty.

    I know I left a few parts out (like the fight scene against the flamethrower), but these are the parts that a video game would pay attention to, which this movie pretty much did. Honestly, I really don’t like films that were made before 2000, but I swear, Macbeth produced by Hugh Hefner in 1971 was better than UW: Awakening. The previous series (except for Rise of the Lycans) had some pretty bad CG, but, hey, stuff was hard back then. However, the previous three were much more dramatic. I don’t see a difference between this movie and Aliens vs Predator: Requiem, except for the fact that one has Aliens and Predators and the other has werewolves and vampires.

  22. I loved the first 3 movies, they were dark and had a lot of atmosphere. After seeing the first one I thought the back story was so rich it could be a movie all its own, and then they did just that with the third. Wiseman’s directing in the first two was fantastic. He had a small budget with the first and created a cult classic. With a larger budget in the second he did even better. And though the third doesn’t have Kate and was directed by Tatopoulas, the film kept the same feel and tight storytelling prowess. This fourth installment is nothing like the first three.

    From the opening scene I knew there was something wrong. It felt more like 28 days later rather than Underworld. As the movie progressed I thought the environment was somehow off, not as dark or as hardened as the others. When the action sequences began it felt more like a TV episode than a movie. Honestly, if it wasn’t part of the film franchise, and starred different people in the lead roles I would have liked it better. It wasn’t a bad movie, but it wasn’t an Underworld movie either. The fourth installment needed better directing, and a script that filled out the story much better. After all, the movie is only 87 minutes long, they had the time to fill in more of the blanks and make all the characters more compelling. In fact, the characters are the one things that aren’t 3D in this movie, and are seriously shallow.

    • Amen !

  23. Clearly this kid who wrote the review, does not know what he is talking about. As you can see most of us viewers think opposite of you review. We the real audience are far better critics.

    • No you’re not. You’re just easily entertained by crap.

  24. One thing I don’t get with this underworld is why they made selene weak?She is suppose to have the blood of the originator (Alex Corvinus) in her that’s what helped her defeat marcus in this one it felt like if she didn’t have a gun or weapon she was done for.Other than that the movie was good.I just hope they correct Selene’s character and what she can really do.

  25. One thing I don’t get with this underworld is why they made selene weak?She is suppose to have the blood of the one who it all started from (Alex Corvinus) in her that’s what helped her defeat marcus in this one it felt like if she didn’t have a gun or weapon she was done for.Other than that the movie was good.I just hope they correct Selene’s character and what she can really do.

  26. One thing I don’t get with this underworld is why they made selene weak?She is suppose to have the blood of the one who it all started from (Alex Corvinus) in her that’s what helped her defeat marcus in this one it felt like if she didn’t have a gun or weapon she was done for.Other than that the movie was good.I just hope they correct Selene’s character and what she can really do and as for the love intrest its with her daughter that’s why she was determined to protect her.

  27. One thing that bothered me about this underworld is how weak they made selene she has the blood of Alex Corvinus in her and they made it seem like if she didn’t have a gun she was done for.As far as the love intrest its her daughter that’s why she was determined to protect her daughter.Other than that the movie was good not as good as it could have been.I hope they fix the Selene problem in the next one.

  28. I don’t see what everyone is complaining about . Underworld 1 , 2 , & 3 were AMAZING ! But this ? This was crap ! I’m sort of sorry my dad spent any type of money on this so we could all watch it . I literally towards the end realized that the big “booyah” scene was coming up and as soon as I said that my heart dropped .

    As everyone and every site for that matter , has mentioned : BLOOD & VIOLENCE ! We got that , but where is the Underworld we fell in love w/ huh ? Rolling over in it’s Hollywood Grave …

    Besides all the bad I do want to say that I liked the whole “She’s my daughter bit”. Could’ve been introduced less obvious , and the this is actually a Vampire apocalypse movie , [ignoring how this is another Werewolves vs Vampire thing] and the fact that they hid Michael from us believing he was dead ? GREAT ! Admit it , you were hopeful when you thought he was dead , like it was a bad dream [ignoring again how they never let him meet his daughter or wife/lover] .

    Overall , just how I am . I give the 4/10 .

    They basically did a “M. Night Shyamalan , Avatar: The Last Airbender” on us . Well me , & I AM NOT AMUSED !

  29. Terrible disappointment. The effects look unfinished, the plot is shoddy and most of the action is cheesy a-la TV show.