The Underworld movies have always revolved around the war between the vampires and werewolves, er, Lycans, but in Underworld: Awakening a new enemy enters the mix: humans. Also, Kate Beckinsale returns as Selena, the ultra-lethal vampire Death Dealer (still wearing her fetish-inspired outfit, of course).

Set shortly after the second movie (and largely ignoring the prequel Underworld: Rise of the Lycans), the humans have learned of the existence of both vampires and werewolves, declaring a war on both species with the Purge. With both races being slaughtered by humans, Selene and her hybrid lover Michael are trying to escape when they get knocked out.
Selene awakens from a cryogenic chamber in a lab in the Antigen company -- and learns she's been unconscious for twelve years! And while she can't sense Michael, she has a psychic connection with Eve (India Eisley), who turns out to be the daughter of Selene and Michael (and the one who freed Selene). So the mother-daughter duo head on the run.

But wait -- there's more! (More cliches, that is.) Dr. Jacob Lane (Stephen Rea), the apparent head of Antigen, created the hybrid Eve and wants her and Selene captured. The Lycans have been virtually eradicated and have devolved to near-feral savages. Detective Sebastian (Michael Ealy) is investigating an apparent Lycan killing and keeps spotting Selene. An underground vampire coven is divided, with David (Theo James) wanting to help Selene and fight the humans while his father Thomas (Charles Dance) wants to remain hidden and survive. And there's also a giant, nigh-invulnerable Lycan running around, not to mention a plot twist...

Despite making the humans the main enemy, Underworld: Awakening is almost identical to the previous movies. Selene can move with super-speed and has amazing strength, yet she spends most of the movie rapid-firing a pair of pistols and bouncing around in slow motion. There are the usual debates/arguments among the vampires (this time fight vs. flight accompanies the old hatred of hybrids), and the storylines are very predictable. It's also amusing that most of the movie revolves around protecting Eve, considering she's one of the most powerful characters in the movie; and she looks so scary when mad she's easily be the evil villain in any other movie.

And so, Underworld: Awakening is more of the same, only with humans and a hybrid kid tossed in the mix. Kate Beckinsale looks great (as always) but can't give Selene any real depth here. The movie is a barely-there investigation, lots of gunfights with cgi creatures (and easily-slaughtered humans), and the always-present muted bluish lighting. The end of this movie seems to be setting the stage for another sequel, but since Underworld: Awakening is so similar to the previous movies, why bother?

Overall grade: D
Reviewed by James Lynch

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