When the first Underworld arrived in 2003 - a film that no doubt owed its existence to the then-current Blade series which had made the mix of action/horror and vampires a hot box office commodity - I felt lukewarm towards it. It was a little too glossy and a lot too CGI - not the kind of werewolves vs. vampires movie I was looking for.
In 2003, Underworld was too easy to shrug off in favor of more diverting offerings. You know, like Wrong Turn, Haute Tension or the remake of Texas Chainsaw Massacre. But while genre trends have come and gone in the years since, Underworld has kept chugging along. And while the films haven't gotten any better, I like the fact that the new Underworld movie in 2012 looks exactly like the original Underworld movie from 2003. Same blue/black lighting, same costumes, the same shit CGI. While Underworld: Awakening represents no special leap in quality for the franchise, I've come to appreciate the fact that these films are stylistically frozen in time. Their unchanging nature has made them into a comfort food kind of experience.
I didn't pay enough attention to tell you who directed this latest Underworld or who wrote it and I'm uninterested in looking up that information so don't consider this a real review of any kind. All I can say is that I had a fair amount of fun watching this, more fun than I've had with any other Underworld film. That might have to do with my mellowing attitude towards the series (or my mellowing attitude toward life in general) but I also would say that this has substantially more action than the previous installments (it seemed to me that Kate Beckinsale had even less dialogue here than non-actress Gina Carano did in Haywire*). Maybe the people behind the series finally realized that there was never anything interesting to be said by any of the characters in these films so it'd be better to just have them all fighting non-stop.
If so, I applaud that decision.
* By the way, if I can make a non-genre recommendation, Haywire is a really solid piece of work. For some reason, audiences seem to be down on it (it earned a D+ on Cinemascore) but I think anyone with a taste for action cinema will enjoy it.