Gothically sumptuous visuals and a dramatically corpsy story are how 2003's "Underworld" and 2006's "Underworld: Evolution" both played their hands, the notion of a war between vampires and lycans (read: werewolves) squandered by distinct underdevelopment and a stale romance between leather-clad, centuries-old bloodsucker Selene and rapidly transforming hybrid Michael. With 2009's chintzy, ugly, direct-to-video-level prequel "Underworld: Rise of the Lycans" all but burying the franchise—not even Beckinsale returned—it was assumed the series had finally exhausted itself. With its original lead star once again back in the saddle, however, studio Screen Gems has resurrected the thought-dead and reclaimed the valiance of mediocrity in fourth installment "Underworld: Awakening." Former series frontrunner Les Wiseman, along with co-writers John Hlavin, J. Michael Straczynski (2008's "Changeling") and Allison Burnett (2009's "Fame"), have done a good enough job at the onset getting viewers up to speed with what's come before—because, let's face it, these movies are terminally forgettable in their middle-of-the-roadness—then fall back on old, discouraging ways following a promisingly spiky first act.
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