A lot or a little?
The parents' guide to what's in this movie.
What parents need to know
Parents need to know that Underworld Awakening is the fourth movie in the "vampires vs. lycans" (werewolves) series and the third to star Kate Beckinsale. It focuses more on fighting and violence than scares, but -- like the previous films -- it's accurately rated "R." There's lots of combat, including hand-to-hand fights, shooting, stabbing, slicing, bombs and explosions, and spurting blood. Throats are ripped out, and a young vampire/lycan girl is shown trying to slice her wrists (the cuts heal immediately). There's less sexuality here than in the last two movies; although one scene shows the main character naked, her body is totally obscured by steam. Language is very infrequent but includes at least three uses of "f--k" and one "s--t."
- Parents say
- Kids say
What's the story?
After the events of Underworld (2003) and Underworld: Evolution (2006), humans discover the existence of vampires and lycans and begin "cleansing" in UNDERWORLD AWAKENING. Selene (Kate Beckinsale) is captured, and her lover Michael is presumably dead. When she wakes up, she's shocked to find out that it's 12 years later and that the few surviving vampires and lycans have gone underground. She's even more shocked to discover that she has a daughter, Eve (India Eisley), a natural-born vampire-lycan hybrid. Eve has now come of age, growing up in a lab without knowing her mother. Unfortunately, after she escapes, the girl's disappearance draws the unwanted attention of angry lycans. With the help of Detective Sebastian (Michael Ealy), Selene must figure out why.
Is it any good?
This follow-up to the first few Underworld movies is definitely gory, but someone forgot to also make it scary, exciting, sexy, and/or fun. After the boring dud Underworld: The Rise of the Lycans (2009), the filmmakers were smart to distance themselves from it and to bring Beckinsale back -- though that was arguably the last smart move they made. The entire movie consists either of gory, bloody fight scenes or dialogue scenes in which people argue and try to further the movie's feeble plot.
Beckinsale still looks great in her black vinyl and leather suit, but her character has no depth; in one scene she says, "my heart isn't cold ... it's broken," but we can't tell the difference. Other characters, such as the human police detective, don't seem to belong at all. The visual effects in Underworld Awakening are below average, which renders the digital lycans/werewolves completely ineffective. On the plus side, Swedish co-directors Mans Marlind and Bjorn Stein have at least ordered up a nice-looking set.
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about Underworld Awakening's violence. Why do you think it's so graphic? Is that part of the appeal of a film like this? What would the movie be like if it toned down the blood and gore?
Can Selene be viewed as a positive role model? Is she strong? What is her character like? What are her goals?
What's the appeal of this vampires vs. werewolves series? How do they compare with other cinematic vampires or werewolves you've seen?
- In theaters: January 20, 2012
- On DVD or streaming: May 7, 2012
- Cast: Kate Beckinsale, Michael Ealey, Stephen Rea
- Directors: Bjorn Stein, Mans Marlind
- Studio: Screen Gems
- Genre: Horror
- Topics: Magic and Fantasy, Monsters, Ghosts, and Vampires
- Run time: 88 minutes
- MPAA rating: R
- MPAA explanation: strong violence and gore, and for some language
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