Underworld: Awakening (2012) 3D RED Style

My daughter and I watched the latest instalment in the Underworld series/franchise last night. While the film itself is not going to win any awards for sticking to the ‘verse’ initially created by Wiseman and co, it does have the distinction of being the first 3D film shot entirely on the Sony Red Epic digital camera.

And as best as I could tell from watching the movie, it definitely did not suffer from being shot digitally. Having said that, we did only watch the 2D version as our telly isn’t 3D and we don’t have any of the special glasses either.

Underworld: Awakening is now among the growing number of films that are being shot digitally instead of ‘traditionally.’ If you Google the phrase RED you will find a plethora of references and websites all pertaining to the ‘new’ digital camera that is becoming a favourite among mainstream film makers.

If you look on Wikipedia, there is a long list of films that are due to be released this year and next that have used the Red camera to film them. It does appear that Sony is leading the list of ‘most used’ but, Cannon and a few other brands are creeping in there. *Link here – List of Films Shot on in Digital*

In most cases, it seems that the Red is being used in areas that are traditionally difficult to film with ‘traditional’ cameras and not the entire film. Until recently the only folks adventurous enough to use the Red for the entire process were the Independents.

Underworld: Awakening has proved that you can not only shot your entire project digitally, but it can also be used for the 3D process as well. A little ground breaking for sure.

Unfortunately that is the only thing that is ground breaking about Awakening. Directed by Måns MårlindBjörn Stein and with a screenplay written by Len Wiseman (with an addtional 7 credits listed on IMDb for writing, it seems to prove that too many cooks can spoil a broth) the only thing the film really has going for it is the return of Kate Beckinsale as lead character Selene.

The film strays quite far from the verse that Wiseman created over ten years ago with the original film. The story in a nutshell is that people have discovered the existence of the Vampires and Lycans and have set out to ‘cleanse’ them from the face of the earth. So far so good. But…

Michael and Selene get separated and when they reunite in an ambush both get captured and  put on ice (literally) for observation and experimentation. Once Selene escapes, (aided, she thinks, by Michael) the rest of the film deals with her trying to discover where Michael is and in the interim finding out that she has a daughter Eve (India Eisley).

India Eisley as Eve *Google Images*

Despite the ‘new technology’ used to shoot the film and added 3D, this film is never going to be a stand out from the other instalments. For one thing, it has been ten years since Kate Beckinsale got all corseted up as Selene the death dealer and it looks it.

I don’t mean in the face department, in that area Kate looks like she’s not aged a day. No, where the ten year gap shows is in the wire work and pistol shooting department. In the first two Underworld films, Kate did the wire work like a pro, smooth seamless and almost effortless. She also was one of the few folks in Hollywood who could squeeze off a multitude of blank rounds and never blink.

That has changed. Kate still doesn’t blink a whole lot, but, now she does blink and the wire work looked awkward and clumsy. Almost as clumsy as the patch-work plot.

It was a little sad to note that the only ‘older’ English actor they could seem to find to play a coven ‘elder’ was Charles Dance. I can only assume that the other older English cadre of Hollywood favourites were otherwise engaged or they thought that Bill Nighy‘s act was too hard to follow. I know that Derek Jacobi found the shadow cast by Nighy was difficult to overcome.

The film is worth a watch though, after all my moaning, just for Beckinsale and the young actress Eisley (the offspring of Olivia Hussey) who performs very well in her second feature film role. The other chap to watch for is Theo James as David. This man exuded buckets full of charisma, confidence and believability all in equal measure. An honourable mention also has to  be given to Michael Ealy as Detective Sebastian.

Michael Ealy as Detective Sebastian

If you don’t expect a film that is 100% faithful to the Underworld verse or don’t mind that things are introduced into the verse that are never explained, you won’t be too disappointed in the movie.

I feel that the directors and the crew got a bit too enamoured of the Red cameras and the 3D process to care about things that did not make sense. Sorry guys, but as nice as it was to see Kate Beckinsale as Selene again, that combined with your 3D did not make up for the films shortcomings.

A nice watch and definitely no more than a ‘one bagger.’


Author: Michael Knox-Smith

World traveler, writer, actor, journalist. Cinephile who reviews films, television, books and interviews professionals in the industry. Member Nevada Film Critics Society

13 thoughts on “Underworld: Awakening (2012) 3D RED Style”

  1. I’m going to have to read more on the new camera. I’ll probably skip seeing the film.

    For so long, the movie industry didn’t adopt much in the way of new technology … then it exploded. I’m curious to know how it will affect the quality of our viewing experiences … if they will make some better movies using this technology, not just flashy special effects stuff.

    I saw Disney’s 3D process in their special theatre at Disney World in the early 90s. I said then as soon as Disney figured out how to mass distribute the technology, it might get people back to the movies. I think it has, but now they are selling it for home TVs … and it isn’t out of the ball park for most people’s budget (not ours, but people who have real incomes and all). Though we watch mostly older movies , there are some newer 3D ones like Avatar I dearly wish I could watch on 3D at home. Maybe while God is taking care of me, He’ll drop off a big screen 3D television. That would be very nice, eh?

  2. Good stuff, Mike. I remember watching these years ago with some friends, and really enjoyed them, and they became guilty pleasure of sorts. It’s a shame about the continuity suffering though; that’s a really big deal for me with any fiction. I also thought it was a fairly strong aspect of the Underworld series initially, as Nighy (Who’s awesome) and many others, including Sheen, continually returned with each film, even if for only a small flashback that helped to elaborate on the overall storyline. Even though Viktor wasn’t around after the first film, the flashbacks of him were excellent, but only because of Nighy. Too bad he didn’t return for this one, if only for another flashback of some kind. I heard something about Speedman also not coming back for this one. Again, it’s a shame when this happens. So many franchises go on too long, or for the dreaded “fourth” entry, and really suffer quality-wise for it. No doubt you can list off some yourself. Not sure if you’re getting out much with everything that’s happened, but DON’T go see The Bourne Legacy! LOL Perfect example of one too many films in a franchise! I’m absolutely for the progression of film techniques and equipment, the Hobbit, set for this December, is supposed to use incredible tech. But if everything else suffers for it, why the effort for the better tech? Loved the too many ‘cooks’ line, by the way; a painful truth particularly in Hollywood these days.

    1. The fact that Speedman wasn’t in the film was obvious. The beginning shots showed the back of his head and the only shots that ‘revealed’ his face were probably CG. Glad to hear you like the review…Oh and I’ve heard about the fiasco that is called Bourne Legacy lol! 🙂

      1. Ugh.. that CG trick rarely works. They shouldn’t have bothered. I’m reminded of the Arnold T-800 from Terminator Salvation. It wasn’t ‘amazingly’ terrible, but…well… lol They didn’t use CG in Bourne Legacy thankfully, but flashing Damon’s photo was VERY important for them, to remind the audience that this was a legitimate sequel to the other Bourne movies. Hilariously bad in comparison. Not the performances, just the writing. Good lord was it bad writing. :/

  3. Good assessment. This film series is a guilty pleasure for me, much like Resident Evil. Hmm… I wonder if it’s because of the lovely protagonist mowing down baddies? ;-). Fine review, Mike.

    1. Well the last time I checked (just now) you were still there. I kind of ‘lucked’ into getting freshly pressed, I’ve done a couple of blog posts on it since I got fp’d. I still think that to a huge degree, it happens by chance. 🙂