Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Review of Underworld: Awakening

Title: Underworld: Awakening

Date: 2012

Tagline: Vengeance Returns

I went into Underworld: Awakening with low expectations.  After all, this is the fourth movie in the franchise (and the third in the Selene saga), and rarely does a series make it this far without a significant loss in quality.  (Does anybody remember Halloween III: Season of the Witch or Friday the 13th IV: The Final Chapter?)  However, I walked away pleasantly surprised.  

Underworld: Awakening begins a few days after the final battle of Underworld: Evolution in which Selene (Kate Beckinsale) and Michael Corvin (Scott Speedman) defeated the Elders.  That conflict brought the existence of vampires and lycans to the attention of humans, who immediately initiate The Purge, a “mass cleansing” of the underworld.  (My favorite line from the movie was when Selene says: “The humans no longer fight amongst themselves.  They’ve been waiting for an enemy like us.”)  Selene and Michael are caught up in the cleansing, and Selene is rendered unconscious in an explosion.  She wakes up twelve years later inside a cryogenic chamber located within the laboratory of the biomedical firm Antigen, an enterprise run by Dr. Jacob Lane (Stephen Rea) who is using Selene and another test subject as source code for a vaccine he is developing to counter the affects of vampirism and lycanthropy.  Her escape was orchestrated by another test subject who had broken free earlier.  Assuming that the other test subject is Michael, Selene sets off after him.  

[Spoiler alert]  What Selene finds is a world that has changed substantially from the life she once knew.  Lycans live like vermin in the sewers and teeter on the brink of extinction.  The few surviving vampires have abandoned their mansions for underground lairs beneath the city, scared of any contact with humans and stripped of their former self esteem.  The biggest surprise is when Selene finally catches up with the other test subject.  It is not her lover but a young girl named Eve (India Eisley), Selene’s and Michael’s lycan-vampire hybrid daughter who has the same abilities as her father combined with the hormonal rage of a teenager.  As Selene struggles to adapt to this new world and bond with the child who has grown up without her, she must also protect Eve from Dr. Lane who wants to recover his test subjects, his interest in them harboring a deep and terrifying secret.  [End spoiler alert]

Directors Marlind and Stein succeeded in keeping the franchise fresh by taking Underworld: Awakening in a new direction.  By having Selene deal with the consequences of her actions, the directors built on the foundation of the first two movies rather than continue the story linearly, which would have failed to deliver.  In addition, introducing the dynamic of motherhood allowed them to develop Selene's character beyond that of a warrioress.  Marlind and Stein also provide new and impressive protagonists in the form of a massive uber-werewolf that is more than a match for the vampires and in Dr. Lane, the most complex and evil villain in the franchise to date.  

There are some major flaws with the movie, the two biggest for me being the passing off of an eighteen year old actress (Indian Eisley) as a twelve year old girl, and the inclusion of Michael in the storyline even though Scott Speedman does not appear in the movie (there are a few brief shots in the opening scenes that are either Speedman transposed from Underworld: Evolution or filmed with a body double).  Nor does the storyline explain how Selene could give birth, and how Eve grew into a teenager, if both were in cryogenics for the past twelve years.  However, given the overall positives in the movie, these don’t detract too much from the final product (and may someday be the basis for an Underworld: Awakening drinking game).  

Underworld: Awakening was a good way to start off 2012, and makes me look forward to the sequel (as long as Kate Beckinsale and her leather outfit are in it).  I give this movie three and a half out of five vampire fangs.

Thursday, January 26, 2012

Stuck in a Slump

I've had a bad case of writer's block for awhile now, and it's frustrating.  At least fighting off hordes of the living dead would give me something creative to do.

Sunday, January 22, 2012

Sunday Bunnies

[A special Sunday Bunnies edition dedicated to Cocoa, my "old guy" who celebrated his 9th anniversary with me this weekend.]

Nine bloody years as your pet and all I get for an anniversary celebration is lettuce?  Butthead. 

Monday, January 16, 2012

See You in a Week

I will be tending to other business for a few days, and won't be blogging this week.  But I'll be back next Sunday with the latest edition of the Sunday Bunnies.

Sunday, January 15, 2012

Friday, January 13, 2012

Upcoming Events for 2012

I have not been on line as much the past few weeks as I would have liked, mostly because I've been preoccupied between my day job and crashing to finish my latest novel.  Most of that is behind me, so now I concentrate on looking ahead.  This year promises to be very successful. 

Rotter World, my first zombie novel, will be published by Permuted Press sometime in April or May.  I am finishing up the final revision of Yeitso, my tribute to the B-grade monster movies of the 1950s that I loved as a Monster Kid (and still do).  Hopefully within the next few months I will begin work on my sixth novel, Hell Gates, a young adult dark fantasy set in a post-apocalyptic world where the boundaries between earth and Hell collapse, allowing the two worlds to merge. 

In the short story category, I have "The Last Flight of the Bismarck" (steampunk zombies) is currently with a publisher, and I should hopefully be hearing back soon.  Another short story, "Recognition" (a zombie apocalypse told from the living dead's point of view), is ready for submission, and I am looking around for the right publisher.  Plus I have several more ideas I'm hoping to develop in 2012.

I will also be attending several conventions this year as a guest.  Among them will be Ravencon 2012 in Chesterfield, Virginia from 13-15 April and Crypticon in Seattle, Washington from 25-27 May where I will be sitting at the Permuted Press table.  I hope to make appearances at several others, including HorrorFind 2012, as well as hold more book signings.  As always, I will keep you posted on developments.

That's it for now.  I thank my family, friends, and fans for all their support.  And I look forward to all the new people I will meet this year.

Sunday, January 8, 2012

Sunday Bunnies

You go ahead and write.  I'm just gonna lie here in the warm sun all afternoon.