On Wednesday I had a really productive writing day, which meant that I was too wound up to go to sleep early. I decided to watch Underworld: Awakening on FX.
The Undeworld movies are Kate Beckinsale vehicles, based on an old, highly successful video game of the same name. Beckinsale plays Selene, a vampire who stalks around in shiny black leather (maybe vinyl) and shoots a lot of bullets from her fancy twin pistols. She mostly shoots werewolves or lycans.
The first movie had a story and a plot. I confess that the second movie, Underworld: Evolution, didn’t make a whole lot of sense to me. Beckinsale’s boyfriend Michael is a vamp-lycan hybrid. Before him, about six hundred years ago, there were two brothers. One was a lycan and one a vamp. Derek Jacobi plays their father, who lives on a freighter and is immortal, until he is killed by the unpleasant bald man with the wing-span twice his body height, who chases Selene and Michael the rest of the movie. There is a helicopter. There is a long battle scene in some underground canals, lots of driving, portentous, minor-key music, and lots of whispery voice-over narration by Beckinsale. At the end of the movie, the suggestion is that Selene is pregnant.
I’m not including Underworld: Rise of the Lycans because as all fanboys/girls know, that’s a prequel (and Beckinsale’s not in it).
Underworld: Awakening marches further down the road of complete incomprehensibility. Twelve years have passed since the events of the last movie. Humans found out about lycans and vamps and are trying to wipe them out (or are they?). Selene is Subject 1, frozen in a cryo-tube in a human lab until someone breaks her out. Selene doesn’t know who, but she gets images through the eyes of that person. She thinks it’s Michael. It’s not. It’s a twenty-year-old* fashion model who is Selene’s 12 year old daughter. Seriously, they don’t even try to make the actress look young.
Meanwhile, Cop One and Cop Two are having a discussion over a mangled human body. Cop One: “This looks like a lycan kill.” Cop Two, “How long have you been on the job? Three months? So, shut up. Besides, lycans are extinct. Everybody knows that.”
Selene meets up with Cop One, who is a vamp, and together they find the fashion model, who tells Selene she is her child. They go to a darkly-lit tunnelly place, meet some ill-tempered vampires, and are set upon by lycans. Selene runs around firing her big old guns without actually hitting anything. (In the first movie, there was an idea that Selene was a good shot. Not anymore. She just holds her magic guns up, straight-armed, at chest-level, and fires endless bursts of bullets.)
The lycans kidnap the fashion model.
Cop Two agrees to help Selene and tells her that – surprise!—lycans aren’t extinct, someone’s been covering for them. They want fashion model’s blood/organs/hair, something, I don’t know, because it makes them bigger and stronger.
Guns! Shooting! Bad wire work! Explosions! Exposition as the evil human doctor is revealed be a – well, you’ve probably figured it out.
Fights! More bad wire work!
A suggestion that Baby-Daddy Michael isn’t dead!
One of the worst things this movie does is make Kate Beckinsale look bad. I don’t mean bad in a I’m-a-celebrity-out-without-my-makeup way. I mean in a fully made-up, still-looking-like-I-came-off-a-five-day-bender way. The foundation looks thick and cake-like, some lighting and camera angles put lines on her face, and the wet-look hair that was so in-your-face and daring in the first two now looks greasy. This should be a crime.
There are a couple of good things about the movie. Three, actually. Good Thing Number One is a line where the fashion model tells Selene she is cold-hearted. Selene replies with something like, “Yesterday I something-something-something and I went to sleep and today I woke up and it’s twelve years later and something-something-thing. My heart isn’t cold. It’s broken.” That was good.
Good thing Number Two is Selene’s smokin’ coat, the black leather one with the lapels, the fitted waist and the tails that billow around her calves as she strides about shooting.
Good Thing Number Three is Kris Holden-Reid, playing a guy who morphs into a lycan the size of a Clydesdale. Holden-Reid currently plays Dyson on Lost Girl, where he is also a wolf, but a much cooler one. This role in Awakening is pretty thankless, but Holden-Reid looks great, so that’s a help.
There are many medium-sized bad things; poor wire work, or maybe it’s not wire work at all, just bad cgi, which would explain a lot. The logic flaw of Baby Daddy Michael, presumed dead, being stored in a cryo-tube labeled Subject 6—I’m sorry, he has all the components the fashion model has, why isn’t he Subject 1? The worst thing, by far, though, is the voice-over narration at the end, which strongly implies there will be yet another movie. Oh, the horror!
*I was being facetious with the “twenty-year-old” remark, but when I checked IMDB, I discovered that the actress who plays the daughter was twenty when the movie was released. So, to be fair, she was probably eighteen when the film was made.