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Underworld: Awakening
  • Composed by Paul Haslinger
  • Lakeshore Records / 2012 / 59:14

I’m not a religious man, but the sight of Kate Beckinsale in her leather outfits in the Underworld series is enough to convince me that somewhere along the line, there must have been some kind of intelligent design.  I don’t feel it’s an exaggeration to say that it is the best thing in the history of cinema, if not mankind itself.  Sadly, intelligent design is notable by its absence when considering the music for the series, which was briefly enlivened when Marco Beltrami came on board for the second film (though it’s not one of his better works) but otherwise has received the equal-but-opposite force to the good that is Kate Beckinsale, which is the music of Paul Haslinger.  One of the film’s directors is called Björn, which of course makes me think about the music of Abba, one of the many things which is better to think about than Haslinger’s score for Underworld: Awakening.  Other things on that list of things include gone-off milk and genital warts.

The album is mostly an exercise in noise.  Some parts are quite noisy, others are less noisy.  It is important to note that even the more noisy parts can be made less noisy by reducing the volume, preferably to zero.  Doing so would mean avoiding some truly insipid film music, devoid of imagination or anything of particular quality.  Some might like the couple of Zimmerish action tracks – in “Prepare the Armoury”, at least the noise seems to have a bit of purpose – and right near the end, “The Melancholy of Resistance” features some Battlestar Galactica-ish vocals which are actually pretty attractive.  Those two tracks earn the album an extra half-star, but that’s being a bit generous, because the rest is just dire.  It tries hard to be abrasive and unsettling, but it’s really just too sanitised to even achieve that – it ends up just being formless, tuneless and lacking even a basic appeal.  * 1/2 |

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  1. Demetris (Reply) on Tuesday 7 February, 2012 at 21:31

    Hehe 🙂 That was amusing.

  2. Mike (Reply) on Wednesday 8 February, 2012 at 00:12

    What a hilarious review! Thanks for the warning!

  3. Debbie (Reply) on Wednesday 8 February, 2012 at 03:20

    I really enjoyed that review and will steer clear

  4. Mikal (Reply) on Wednesday 8 February, 2012 at 16:51

    Not to undermine your opinion, James, but I hope you’re not so impressionable as to not give the score a chance based on one man’s brief review, Debbie…

  5. Mike (Reply) on Wednesday 8 February, 2012 at 17:15


    I think if someone is a regular reader here, and feels that their opinions line up with James’, as I do, I would feel okay with never giving this score a chance based on this review.

    If it were Filmtracks, where there is less consistency between reviews, I would agree with you 🙂

  6. Mikal (Reply) on Thursday 9 February, 2012 at 03:38

    Your opinion lines up with his 100% of the time? That would be fortuitous. 😛

    And what do you mean by there being less consistency between reviews at Filmtracks?

  7. Mike (Reply) on Thursday 9 February, 2012 at 13:15

    Of course I don’t agree all the time with James, I was just making a general statement 🙂

    (James finds more to like in James Horner’s recent output then I do, for example)

    But, after reading reviews here for years, I find I usually agree with him. He backs up his reviews with good points, analysis when required, and humor. If James really dislikes a score, one written by a composer who I have never cared for, I feel confident I won’t like it either.
    As for Filmtracks, after reading reviews there for years as well, I just get the impression that Christian plays favorites and doesn’t come into a score with an open mind.

    Not sure if that makes any sense, and again, this these are just my own opinions. Feel free to love Underworld: Awakening! 😀

  8. Mikal (Reply) on Thursday 9 February, 2012 at 18:43

    Of course. 🙂

    Fair enough. I can usually gauge how much I’ll like a score based on a reviewer’s opinion of it, but I never take their opinion as the be all and end all. I’ll give any score a chance, even if it is written by a composer whose past work I haven’t been crazy about, because, who knows, that may be the score to change my mind.

    As for Christian playing favorites, well, I suppose he is predictable, in a sense, and I would probably argue that he could be a bit more open-minded, too.

    I understood you perfectly, man. Nothing wrong with what you said. And, incidentally, I haven’t yet listened to Underworld: Awakening. 😀