Directly after the events of Underworld Evolution, Vampires and Lycans alike are now be persecuted by humans who are looking to exterminate their existence. Selene (Kate Beckinsale) and Michael (Scott Speedman) succumb under the pressure and are taken before they can escape. Fast forward 12 years later and Selene awakens to a new world, inside a lab, and about to find out that she now is a mother. The Lycans remain a threat to her, subject #2, or Eve (India Eisley), and the coven which David (Theo James) has taken them to. However, when the Lycans take Eve, Selene has only one option, to unleash vengeance on the Lycans.
I will tell you that I was skeptical over the idea of a new Underworld being developed. Having seen the previous three films I wasn’t all for a new one, mainly because I felt that Evolution was just not a good film and how can anyone else with that vision give the franchise more life. Awakening brings new faces and new stories to the table and generally that should indicate that the filmmakers are trying to revive the franchise. I do feel as if there was something missing. Of course, the production team wasted no time in setting this up for another installment, but I was more worried about Awakening and how it was presented. At the end of it all this will pave the way for the next title.
Awakening had more non-stop action than anything else. Sure, the film lend itself for some sentimental moments, I thought it was great to see Selene momentarily lose sight of reality and come to terms with her new present. This is something we had not seen before and it’s a little enjoyable to see a new side of her rather than blood thirsty violent vampire 24/7. Theo James and India Eisley are welcomed newcomers to the franchise and the director’s used them in a way that they represent the future of Underworld. I did feel that some characters were not developed fully, but then again it’s Underworld. The only focus this film has is on the action, the gore, the violence. If that’s what the fans want then that’s what the fans get. It’s as simple as that, anyone else expecting anything beyond that, save your money. Longtime fans of the franchise will probably enjoy the film a lot more than newcomers. Kate still looks fantastic and if that’s worth the $30 Dollars then hey, who am I to judge?
Underworld: Awakening arrives on Blu-ray 3D in a 1080p MVC-MPEF4 encode framed at 2.40:1. For starters, the 3D version of the film is slightly darker than the regular 2D version, it could the glasses that causes this effect but it’s not a huge issue. By now anyone watching this knows that the film is simply dark by design. Colors are vibrant whenever available, but the image does have a blue/gray tint that matches the previous installments of the film. Black colors are deep and inky; however, at times they do tend to overwhelm the picture, but not by much. Detailing suffers a bit since the picture is so dark for most of the film, but there are some gorgeous shots. I did notice a small thin layer of grain to give it that cinematic feel. The 3D effects were good all around, although I wish there were more, but the few that were used were superb. The 3D image always showed great depth between objects. I didn’t detect any ghosting. Overall, the 3D presentation looked great.
As for the 2D version, it’s almost a mere image of the 3D, obviously no effects. The image is brighter; however, the darkness that was designed over the picture is still the main focus. Colors shine when given a chance, reds, blues, grays stand out the most. The picture really brings out the red of the blood freakishly good. The black colors are deep and yes they can be overwhelming at times, but it’s less noticeable in the 2D version. Detailing is exceptional, except sometimes in darker scenes the details suffer. Overall, the picture quality of this release is great. Kudos Sony.
Underworld: Awakening sports a simply amazing 7.1 DTS-HD Master Audio track for its return. From the very first gunfight to the very last minute of the film, the track simply doesn’t let up. Dialogue is clean and clear throughout even under all the action of the film. The rears are appropriately used throughout for ambience and other effects. Atmospherics effects are also appropriately delivered. Directionality is excellent. The bass is constantly piercing through the soundstage with all the bullets being fired. There are even very detailed sound effects of the Lycan transformation that is heard with perfection. The sound of flesh being pierced is also very detailed. Awakening simply sounds great.
Audio Commentary – featuring Mans Marlind and Bjorn Stein as Directors, Gary Lucchesi Producer, Richard Wright Producer, James McQuaide Producer and Visual Fx Supervisor. They appear to have good chemistry and they all provide a wide array of information throughout the film. There is a good amount of insights at every corner. The track is very informative.
Previsualization Sequences (only available with 3D version of the film) – There are a total of 6 scenes, each are all done with a computer rendered in 3D. These are not the finished scenes:
Alternate Opening Sequence – This is a slightly different intro featuring more in-depth look into the intro. These appear to be the scenes behind the intro of the film.
Car Chase in 3D – See how the Lycans chase the van with Selene, David, and Subject 2.
Coven Fight in 3D – Witness the pre-visualized scene with Selene and the giant Lycan.
Antigen Attack – Part 1 – See Selene’s initial entry into the Antigen labs.
Antigen Attack – Part 2 – Follow Selene’s actions after the elevator explosions, some takes might even include some drawing board illustrations.
Antigen Attack – Part 3 – See part of the parking lot fight sequence and how it was put together before it was shot.
Selene Rises – Cast and crew talk about working with Kate Beckinsale and how the Selene character has evolved from the previous feature films.
Casting the Future of Underworld – The filmmakers talk about the newcomers, India Eisley and Theo James, and their future roles in the ongoing Underworld Series.
Resuming the Action – Filmmakers talk about the special effects and the action shots found within the movie. This behind the scenes talk about the difficulty of the stunts.
Building a Better Lycan – Costume designers talk about the challenges behind creating and improving the Lycans. There’s a good amount of content that deals strictly with the Lycans and the whole process behind creating the creatures.
Awakening a Franchise, Building a Brutal New World – The filmmakers talk about the new 3D cameras that allows them to film at 120fps. But that’s not all, there’s a lot of information about shooting the film in 3D.
Music Video – Heavy Prey by Lacey Sturm featuring Geno Lenardo
The franchise needed something fresh to bring it back to life and perhaps Awakening brought just what it needed to get another set of films on their way. Awakening will appeal to the core set of fans more than the newcomers, but at this point I’d say that’s the right crowd to appeal to, the ones that will continuously return for more. Kate Beckinsale is back with a vengeance and the film is entertaining from beginning to end. The Blu-ray features some nice 3D effects and it does not appear to impact the image taking the fun factor a tad bit higher. The 7.1 track is a blast and it won’t disappoint you. The release is filled with an excellent array of extras that will keep the fans in the seats long after the movie is over. Underworld: Awakening is highly recommended for action fans.