Underworld: Awakening [Blu-Ray] Måns Mårlind & Björn Stein

Underworld: Awakening [Blu-Ray] Måns Mårlind & Björn Stein
A great deal of Underworld: Awakening and its accompanying special features focus on the sense of rebirth the producers are obviously gunning for with their successful bid to sign a new lease on life for the highly stylized vampires in fetish wear versus brutish Lycans (commonly called werewolves) action franchise. It's probably for the best. With the exception of the third film, prequel Rise of the Lycans, which was elevated by the increased presence of Michael Sheen and created for the express purpose of explaining the history of the interspecies conflict, the rest of the series was bogged down by an unnecessarily convoluted mythos preoccupied with lineage when the only clear intention of creator Len Wiseman was for his future wife, star Kate Beckinsale, to look badass while kicking ass. Likewise, when Awakening clings to its history in the opening scenes or otherwise dwells in what's come before ― pulling footage from earlier entries to bring new viewers up to speed or remind us about specifics we'd have no cause to retain in the six-year span between story chapters ― the spring goes out of its step. So forget about the stuntman wearing Scott Speedman's face and why were-vamp Romeo and bloodsucking Juliet get blown up underwater, the fourth Underworld really starts when a naked Selene (Beckinsale) wakes up from a 12-year cryogenic sleep in a future where humans have discovered and exterminated most of vampire and Lycan kind. It's also a world where action sequences are more carefully staged and editing is more graceful due to the requirements of shooting in 3D. With cleaner, more kinetic and extravagant action, and a lean plot that allots its time between elaborate action scenes and simple themes of familial estrangement, rather than yammering about dense family trees, this Underworld is a step in a more entertaining direction than previous entries. If only the new model upgrade included a sense of humour. For a campy action franchise, Underworld takes itself far too seriously. There is a bit of humour to be found in the accompanying blooper reel at least, if you find werewolf rump-pumping funny, and let's face it, people in convincing monster suits breaking character is always ridiculous enough to earn a laugh. The rest of the features are exhaustive ― either a good or bad thing, depending on your interest level and sense of obligation to a complete viewing experience. Among five production features, the assorted cast, crew and producers crow about how wonderful it is to have Beckinsale back in Selene's black body condom (suck it, Rhona Mitra?) and discuss the very obvious intent of launching a whole new series of films. There are some entertaining behind-the-scenes motion capture shots and a ton of technical info on crafting the wolf suits, shooting in 3D and the excited use of other special cinematic gadgets, mirroring the on-screen fetishizing of devices and design. Of lesser interest is a fairly bland commentary track with the two directors, a couple of producers and the VFX supervisor, a cheesy goth rock music video and a "Picture-in-Picture Experience" that inserts pop-up facts and full scenes from previous films into Awakening, which is more annoying than just watching the previous movies again, but, really, why do either when there's a new Resident Evil on the way? (Sony)