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Måns Mårlind, Björn Stein
Kate Beckinsale, Stephen Rea, Michael Ealy
Writing Credits:
Len Wiseman, John Hlavin, J. Michael Straczynski, Allison Burnett

When human forces discover the existence of the Vampire and Lycan clans, a war to eradicate both species commences. The vampire warrior Selene leads the battle against humankind.

Box Office:
$70 million.
Opening Weekend
$25,306,725 on 3078 screens.
Domestic Gross

Rated R.

Aspect Ratio: 2.40:1
English DTS-HD MA 7.1
English Descriptive Audio Service
French DTS-HD MA 5.1
Supplements Subtitles:

Runtime: 89 min.
Price: $14.99
Release Date: 5/8/2012

• Both 2D and 3D Versions
• Audio Commentary with Directors Måns Mårlind and Björn Stein, Producers Gary Lucchesi and Richard Wright, and Executive Producer/Visual Effects Supervisor James McQuaide.
• “Cracking the Underworld” Picture-in-Picture Experience
• Five Featurettes
• Blooper Reel
• 3D Pre-visualization Sequences
• Music Video
• 3D Previews


-LG OLED65C6P 65-Inch 4K Ultra HD Smart OLED TV
-Marantz SR7010 9.2 Channel Full 4K Ultra HD AV Surround Receiver
-Panasonic DMP-BD60K Blu-Ray Player
-Chane A2.4 Speakers
-SVS SB12-NSD 12" 400-watt Sealed Box Subwoofer


Underworld: Awakening [Blu-Ray 3D] (2012)

Reviewed by Colin Jacobson (October 25, 2021)

Surprising realization number one: 2012’s Underworld: Awakening marked the fourth entry in the franchise. I actually thought it was the fifth or sixth film in the series, but it turns out we got a new Underworld like clockwork every three years since the first one in 2003.

Surprising realization number two: I never saw any of the other sequels. I thought that I’d checked out at least one of the other films over the years, but nope – I viewed the original 2003 movie and that was it.

I figured that Awakening offered a good chance to catch up and revisit the franchise nine years after its start. A prologue reminds us of the eternal war between vampire and werewolf/”Lycan” species and how Selene (Kate Beckinsale) became a top-notch vampire warrior.

We learn that humans eventually discovered the existence of the non-humans and measures to eradicate the “infected” took place. This leads to all-out war between the humans and both the Lycans and the vampires.

Along the way, Selene gets injured and captured by the humans, and this leads to her cryogenic imprisonment for 12 years. Much has changed over that span, and the humans have nearly won the war.

The lab lets Selene go so they can use her to “Subject Two”. We follow her adventures and the twists that ensue when she discovers “Subject Two”: Eve (India Eisley), Selene’s daughter who possesses her own unique skill set.

Going into Awakening, I worried that the fact I’d missed 2006’s Evolution and 2009’s Rise of the Lycans would make it tough to follow or dig into the new film’s story. After all, with two full films of development since the original Underworld, you’d expect a viewer to feel a little out of place.

However, that’s not the case, as the prologue brings the neophyte – or simply under-experienced – viewer up to snuff. I’m sure it leaves out some of the nuances that received exploration across the three prior films, but it acts as a more than capable recap.

And as it turns out, the backstory barely matters in the paper-thin narrative that comes from Awakening. Experienced viewers can toss out what they learned in the first three films, and everyone can essentially ignore my plot synopsis as well, for none of that matters.

While Awakening maintains its connection to the rest of the series, it does so little to develop the themes or character that they’re nearly irrelevant. The film could’ve simply come as part of the Underworld universe with no continuation of characters and it would’ve worked the same.

Yes, I know that the Selene/Eve story would’ve had to be explained in a different way, but it still wouldn’t have functioned any differently. That’s because nothing in Awakening serves to explore the characters, the backstory or much of anything else.

Narrative elements exist in the most threadbare manner and fail to engage the viewer. They’re there to set up action and that’s about it.

Which becomes a major flaw, partially because the action’s not really any good. Awakening pours on quite a few set pieces, but none of them satisfy. They feel generic and without any real spark or sense of excitement; they’re completely rote and uninventive.

Without strong action to carry the day, we’re left with the story and characters, and they don’t fly. As I noted, they’re flat and lifeless throughout the movie, so if the action doesn’t dig its hooks into us, nothing else will.

The character scenes feel like little more than fodder to lead us into action sequences, so we simply find one leaden segment after another, without anything to enliven the proceedings.

I must admit I feel surprised at how little the mother/daughter subplot adds to the film – and by “how little”, I mean “not at all”. Perhaps the producers thought this theme would add a nice Ripley/Newt sensibility, with all the ensuing emotions. It doesn’t; instead, the Selene/Eve sequences come across as dull and gratuitous.

Add to that effects that remain dodgy after all these years – with Lycans who look like they’re made of plastic most of the time – and the Underworld series shows no signs of life with Awakening.

Perhaps this is par for the course – I didn’t think much of the original film, either – but it still comes as a disappointment. I thought the franchise had promise in 2003 and still feel that way, but Awakening delivers a bland action experience.

The Disc Grades: Picture A/ Audio A-/ Bonus B+

Underworld: Awakening appears in an aspect ratio of approximately 2.40:1 on this Blu-Ray Disc. Across the board, this was an excellent presentation.

At all times, sharpness looked terrific. I noticed no signs of softness or tentative visuals here, as the movie was consistently tight and well-defined. Moiré effects and jagged edges remained absent, and I failed to discern any edge haloes, artifacts or print flaws in this smooth image.

In terms of colors, expect an exceedingly blue palette here. The movie came bathed in blues from start to finish, with hardly any other hues on display. Within those parameters, the tones seemed solid.

Blacks were deep and dense, while low-light shots demonstrated nice clarity and delineation. I felt impressed with this top-notch visual presentation.

You’ll find more positives from the engulfing DTS-HD MA 7.1 soundtrack of Awakening. With a lot of action scenes at its disposal, the movie boasted many opportunities for immersive action, and it made the most of these.

From various supernatural creatures to vehicles to explosions to gunfire, a variety of action elements filled the room and created a great sense of place. The elements seemed well-placed and blended together in a clean way to occupy all the front and rear channels with lots of engaging information.

I also felt the quality of the audio satisfied. Speech was distinctive and crisp, without harshness or other concerns. Music appeared vivid and full, while effects came across as dynamic and bold. We got plenty of tight, deep bass response in this consistently strong soundtrack.

This package includes both 2D and 3D versions of the film. The picture comments above reflected the 2D edition – how did the 3D compare?

For the most part, picture quality appeared comparable. I thought the 3D rendition came across as a smidgen softer, but this didn’t turn into a prominent decline.

As for the stereo effects, we got a pretty good sense of depth as well as occasional pop-out moments and other immersive elements. However, these appeared less frequently than expected, and the image didn't impress as much as I anticipated.

To be sure, Awakening provided a largely positive 3D presentation. It just didn’t impress as one might expect from a film shot native 3D. This turned into the superior way to watch the movie, but the stereo imaging didn’t elevate the film.

Awakening comes with a pretty sizable roster of extras. We open with an audio commentary from directors Måns Mårlind and Björn Stein, producers Gary Lucchesi and Richard Wright, and executive producer/visual effects supervisor James McQuaide. All five sit together for this running, screen-specific discussion of story/character subjects, various effects and visual design, cast and performances, action and stunts, sets and locations, and shooting 3D.

Expect a peppy and reasonably informative chat here. The various participants mesh well and ensure that the commentary moves at a brisk pace. It’s not the richest movie discussion I’ve heard, but then again, Awakening isn’t exactly a deep flick, so the track covers it fairly well.

Next comes a picture-in-picture experience called “Cracking the Underworld”. This isn’t quite as exciting as one might expect from this sort of feature. Most provide interviews and behind the scene footage, but this one is essentially a glorified trivia track.

Throughout the film, we get occasional text notes about the Underworld series, as we learn about the species and history of the franchise’s universe. We also see snippets from the prior Underworld films along the way.

All of this adds up to a decent text commentary but not a particularly involving one, especially because the blurbs don’t pop up with great frequency; they’re not terribly sporadic, but it would’ve been nice if “Cracking” used the dead space for filmmaking details.

Five featurettes fill a total of one hour, two minutes, 55 seconds. These include “Selene Rises” (12:14), “Casting the Future of Underworld” (12:33), “Resuming the Action” (8:52), “Building a Better Lycan” (10:20) and “Awakening a Franchise: Building a Brutal New World” (18:53).

Across these, we hear from Lucchesi, Wright, Mårlind, Stein, McQuaide, producer Tom Rosenberg, screenwriter/producer Len Wiseman, costume designer Monique Prudhomme, 2nd unit director/stunt coordinator Brad Martin, executive producers David Coatsworth and David Kern, makeup FX supervisor Todd Masters, Lycan performer Dan Payne, Celluloid visual effects Andreas Gutsche, stereographer Kasimir Lehto, production designer Claude Pare, and actors Kate Beckinsale, India Eisley, Theo James, Michael Ealy, Charles Dance, Stephen Rea, and Kris Holden-Ried.

The featurettes cover bringing Beckinsale back for another film and aspects of her character/performance, additional notes about the narrative and participants, cast and acting, stunts and effects, shooting 3D, creature design and makeup, locations and various visual elements.

If you choose to watch these featurettes, you can safely skip “Selene” and “Casting”; both are little more than fluffy puff pieces. Matters improve substantially with “Action”, however, and both “Lycan” and “Building” work pretty well, too; all three offer good facts about the film and throw in nice behind the scenes footage.

Normally we get outtakes for comedies, but even the humorless Awakening delivers a Blooper Reel. It runs three minutes, 21 seconds and shows a mix of mistakes and silly moments from the set. It’s typical fare that becomes theoretically more interesting just due to the contrast between the somber movie and the goofiness of the blooper concept.

After this we find a music video for “Heavy Prey” by Lacey Sturm Featuring Geno Lenardo. This comes with the standard complement of film clips, but it almost sorta kinda attempts its own storyline.

Mostly it acts as an excuse to show us lots of the film and Sturm’s relentless emoting. She’s attractive but too annoying to make this a watchable video. The song’s an overwrought mess, too.

We get a 3D-exclusive feature with Previsualization Sequences. This goes for 21 minutes, three seconds and lets us see the expected crude CG animation used to plan shots. Not all appear 3D, but some do, and this becomes a fun extra.

The disc opens with 3D ads for Ghost Rider: Spirit of Vengeance, Men in Black 3, Resident Evil: Retribution and Amazing Spider-Man. No trailer for Awakening pops up here.

With four films under its belt, the Underworld series continued to chug along, but not with more compelling results. Awakening feels like a regurgitation of ideas from other, better action flicks and lacks personality and excitement. The Blu-ray delivers excellent picture and audio as well as a reasonably useful compilation of supplements. Maybe die-hard Underworld fans will like Awakening, but it bored me, even if the 3D presentation added some pop to the proceedings.

To rate this film, visit the original review of UNDERWORLD: AWAKENING

Review Archive:  # | A-C | D-F | G-I | J-L | M-O | P-R | S-U | V-Z | Viewer Ratings | Main