Kate Beckinsale is back in her vampire avatar to resurrect this never-ending bloody battle involving two immortal species. But like most Hollywood franchises these days, it remains a clumsy cross between style and stunt where the plot is perfunctory and the conflict pointless. Here actors are meant to be stilted and the screenplay becomes a showcase for action set pieces. So Kate seems more concerned about getting into the cat suit and gelled hair than the character graph which expects her to show a motherly side without saying goodbye to the gun. The orchestration of relentless killings oozes gore, but it doesn't trouble us for we don't care for these creatures. Perhaps, we are not expected to, for this is what this video game variety of cinema stands for. But Awakening is no game changer either. With little intrinsic logic, writer Len Wiseman (he has also directed two instalments of the Underworld franchise) only pushes the envelope further away from emotions. In 3D, the slashes, the gashes appear a bit deeper, which might unsettle the fan boys in their seats, but essentially it is a gimmick that has lost its edge.

This time the battle scene has shifted grounds. Now the humans have discovered the existence of vampires and lycans and have undertaken a mass cleansing operation. This separates Selene (Kate) and her hybrid partner Michael Corvis. Selene wakes up from her cryogenic coma after 12 years in a pharmaceutical lab run by a vicious doctor (Stephen Lea in form) who is not what he seems to be. As she escapes from the facility, Selene finds a new world order devoid of vampires and lycans. Of course, she is wrong for both are lurking around the corner, waiting for an opportunity to hit back. Soon she discovers a young girl in white, Eve (India Eisley), who is also a hybrid. Is there a connection? The lycans are after her. The chase begins. With the help of a benevolent vampire, they seek refuge underground but they are not wanted by an elder who considers the girl a threat for their security. He is right. A ferocious clash ensues.

Directors Mans Marlind and Bjorn Stein ensure that both the chase and the clash clamour for attention in terms of sound design and action choreography, but the absence of clever lines and humour reduce them to stand-alone moments worthy of an enticing trailer. In comes the customary good cop (Michael Ealy) to lend his support to Selene and we are into the climax. Time for another round of blood bath, but by then the mood becomes bloody disgusting. The Hindi translation of the title captures the sense better. It's called Khooni Darindon Ki Waapsi!

Underworld: Awakening

Genre: Action-horror-fantasy

Directors: Mans Marlind and Bjorn Stein

Cast: Kate Beckinsale, Michael Ealy, India Eisley, Stephen Lea

Storyline: Selene returns to find a secret about her personal life, but as expected she finds herself on the wrong side of the lycans and the humans.

Bottomline: Better sleep!

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English Cinema ReviewsOctober 17, 2011