I knew Len Wiseman didn't direct this time around--not because I read it in the credits, but because the film lacked his overall intuitive directorial touch. Wiseman did, however, help write the storyline, produce, and is the creator of the characters themselves. Wiseman and Beckinsale are a good team, on and off screen. The two are married, currently living in L. A. Beckinsale was reluctant to don Selene's black-leather again for reasons anyone should be able to imagine. But in the last decade of the 21st century anyway, audiences love a continuing storyline. Throw in a hot vampire chick, some werewolves and a dystopian future (complete with V for Vendetta's Stephen Rea), and you've got a hit made in Hollyhood-heaven! Kind of like Beckinsale and Wiseman. AWAKENING is currently the highest grossing film worldwide at just under $80-million dollars, and only two weeks after its premiere!
Mans Magnus Marlind, the Swedish film director, took on the directorial reins in 2010 during pre-production; the film is the first in movie-making history to be shot in Red Epic, a new kind of digital camera tool released in 2010 from Oakley-founder, Jim Jannard. Many of 2012's new releases like Bryan Singer's Jack the Giant Killer, Peter Jackson's The Hobbit and Ridley Scott's Prometheus will be shot using Red Epic; future pics using it include Avatar 2 by Titanic-sized director, James Cameron.
Using British Columbia as the backdrop, the film began shooting at Simon Frasier University. What was perhaps weirdest about the whole thing was the achived footage of Scott Speedman, who played Michael Corvin in the first two films in the franchise. He announced in 2010 he wasn't going to reprise his role as Michael for the fourth film...so what was he doing instead? Playing a much smaller role in this month's THE VOW? I threw my hands up in the air, too. I. Don't. Get. It. A stand-in played the shots of Michael toward the end of the film.
The most impressive part of this film wasn't just Beckinsale's performance as Selene--though it was entirely mesmerizing, even Variety agrees with me on that one--it was the addition of another female-supernatural-hero-juggernaut, that of Selene's daughter, Eve.
Yes, that hot sex scene in the second film between Selene and Michael was the foreshadow I hoped it would be. Just as Selene and Michael try to make their escape from a world gone mad after the knowledge of vampires and werewolves becomes public, the two are captured and put on ice, literally, for twelve years. Luckily, Selene's daughter is just as feisty as her mother. She's the ultimate hero in the film.
In her first role in a major motion picture, India Eisley, also known for her role in ABC Family's The Secret Life of the American Teenager, plays the most powerful living creature on the planet. A hybrid like her father, Michael, and the last living descendent of Alexander Corvinus, the original immortal, she is remarkable strong, smart...and, psychically connected to her parents.
Newcomer to the franchise, Theo James, known for his role as the unfortunate, if not roguishly handsome, Kemal Pamuk in Downton Abbey, plays David, a vampire who aids Selene in the brave new world she awakens to. The 27-year old British actor-philosopher is a good match to 38-year old Oxford-trained Beckinsale on screen. Even if Michael is eventually written out of the storyline, audiences would enjoy seeing Selene and David develop their budding relationship in future films.
Non-stop action from beginning to end, UNDERWORLD: AWAKENING earns a 9/10 on the Housel-scale. If you haven't seen it yet, go and enjoy the 3-D thrill ride while you can. If you have already caught it once, consider going a second time. Its big-screen worthiness and all-around entertainment value is in the large-scale supernatural action...more so than any other movie in early 2012.
See you at the movies!!!