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Tue, 24 Jan 2012
By Thomas Leupp
After sitting out most of Underworld: Rise of the Lycans, the 2009 "prequel" to the Underworld saga, Kate Beckinsale returns to her trademark role as the face of the blockbuster action-horror franchise in Underworld: Awakening. The film finds Beckinsale's vampire heroine, Selene, waking up in a research facility after a dozen years in hibernation, whereupon she discovers that both vampires and lycans, the traditional adversaries of the Underworld universe, are now nearly extinct – "cleansed," as it were, by us good-old humans – and that her 12-year-old daughter, Eve (India Eisley), is imperiled. It seems that both the dreaded lycans and a mad scientist named Dr. Jacob Lane (poor Stephen Rea) are after the girl, on account of her special DNA.
All of which is meant to provide a serviceable backdrop for a good 85 minutes or so of relentless carnage, orchestrated with relish by the Swedish directing tandem of Mans Marlind and Bjorn Stein and meted out dutifully by Beckinsale. Nine years after she first portrayed Selene, the actress appears as comfortable as ever in her familiar black leather as she carves through waves of monstrous creatures and hapless henchmen, performing the odd acrobatic feat to better position herself for the killing blow. The bloodlust occasionally pauses to allow Beckinsale a moment to emote over lost love or seek a fleeting bond with her offspring, but soon more CGI beasts arrive on hand, and the soulless slaughter hastily recommences. Gorehounds hungry for splatter will delight at the myriad ways Underworld: Awakening finds to depict an exploding skull (in fabulous, brain-bursting IMAX 3D!), but in the end, they're likely the only ones who'll leave the theater sated.
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