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Underworld: Blood Wars (2016)

SYNOPSIS

UNDERWORLD: BLOOD WARS follows Vampire death dealer, Selene as she fends off brutal attacks from both the Lycan clan and the Vampire faction that betrayed her. With her only allies, David and his father, Thomas, she must stop the eternal war between Lycans and Vampires, even if it means she has to make the ultimate sacrifice.

REVIEW:

Director: Anna Foerster
Starring: Kate Beckinsdale, Theo James, Charles Dance, Tobias Menzies, Lara Pulver

The Underworld franchise has been going on since 2003! That’s right people, this series has been around for 14 years now, and while I haven’t been the most ardent admirer of the franchise as a whole, there have been a few films in the series that have caught my fancy. Sadly, the latest one, Underworld: Blood Wars (The 5th in the series), isn’t one I’m gonna remember a week from now. That being said, I should mention that this one pretty much follows the same formula as the previous Underworld films. It stars Kate Beckinsdale, who still looks amazing in that skin tight leather outfit her character, Selene, favors. It also stars Theo James and Charles Dance, who return from previous Underworld installments. The CG Lycans are back in full force, wielding automatic machine guns, and heartily growling as they spray bullets into the vampires, who look just as you remember them. It’s all very familiar.

And blue. It’s all really, really blue.

As this exceedingly blue hued film begins, Selene (Beckinsdale), gives the audience a quick introduction into her world (And the previous 4 films). This bit of exposition is actually sorta handy for the newbies to the series, and though it sounds like nonsense – it actually sums up her predicament up till now rather succinctly. We’re then once again thrust into her world, in which she has let her daughter (Who is a Vampire/Lycan hybrid) go away for her safety. The Vamps are after her, because she killed one of their own in the last film. The Lycans are after her, because they believe she knows where her daughter is, and they want her daughter for her blood (Which will make them invincible. Or something like that). One of the vampire leaders, Semira (Lara Pulver), wants Selene back in order to help train vampires to fight off the oncoming Lycan horde. The leader of the Lycans, Marius (Tobias Menzies) is hot on the trail of Selene’s daughter, but wants to kill off the entire vampire clan first. He’s got a vampire spy, Alexia (Daisy Head. Who’s a dead ringer for Miley Cyrus), that’s secretly siphoning information to him, and is his secret lover to boot. Thanks to Alexia, Marius knows exactly what the vampires are planning. Thanks to vampire elder Thomas (Charles Dance), and vamp soldier, David (Theo James), Selene is convinced to return to the vampire stronghold to train vampire soldiers to fight/kill Lycans. But Selene doesn’t trust Semira, despite Thomas’ exhortations that she’s doing the right thing, and what Selene really wants is to find a way to stop the seemingly eternal Vampire/Lycan war, and make the world safe for her daughter, wherever she is.

First things first. Underworld: Blood Wars does very little that sets it apart from the previous four films in the series. But that doesn’t mean that it isn’t entertaining in its own silly way. It’s kinda obvious that Beckinsdale isn’t really putting out her best effort here, she just doesn’t seem to be into this all too much. But her character is so freaking amazing to look at, I’m willing to give her a pass. The fact that she still kicks Lycan butt very convincingly doesn’t hurt much either. Both Pulver and Menzies are suitably vicious as the leaders of their respective clans as well. Pulver especially revels in the sheer villainy of her role, she’s the kind of villain you just wanna boo/hiss at as soon as she appears. Charles Dance seems to be in just about every other British horror film released as of late, but his role is essential here, and he makes the most of it. Theo James is just too darned pretty to be believable to me, and every time I see him I’m reminded of the Divergent trilogy that he starred in. By the way, I HATE the Divergent trilogy, so reminding me of it probably isn’t the best thing.

Cory Goodman’s script offer very little that’s new to the series, but it isn’t dull either. There’s a kind of Shakespearean tone to all the dialogue here that make the proceedings sound a lot more important than it actually is. It’s obvious that the actors are having a ball spouting out some of the more florid lines they’re saddled with, despite it being patently silly sounding at times. Director Anna Foerster does a decent enough job of getting her point across as well. Her biggest hurdle here was to do something to try and differentiate this film from the others to make this entry feel fresh. Sadly, she fails, but not because she’s isn’t trying. The Vampire/Lycan fights are well executed for the most part, although some shaky editing dies hurt a few of them. What really hurt is the sub par CG Lycan animation, which looks exactly the same as it did in the first Underworld film back in 2003. I’d think that advances in CG animation techniques from then till now would help make the transformations more exciting, but they look pretty crappy here. And although it’s probably the script’s fault, the choice to make the film so exceedingly blue is really a head scratcher. I know it takes place entirely at night, but I’ve never seen any night so blue ever in my life. Underworld: Blood Wars is so freaking blue that it began to hurt my eyes after 30 minutes. And there was still an hour to go before it was over! Luckily I decided to skip seeing it in 3D, because all of that blue in 3D would’ve made me rip the eyes from out of their sockets.

Underworld: Blood Wars isn’t a very good movie, not at all. But it’s better than a few other films in the franchise, and that’s surprising, especially as it’s the fifth film of the series. I still feel that if the powers that be wanted to continue this malarkey after the third film, they should’ve continued it as a TV series. With Game Of Thrones as popular as it is, and Underworld basically being Game Of Thrones with Vampires and Werewolves, it might’ve worked really well. But the films are still making money, so on the big screen is where they’ll stay for now. If you’re a fan of this stuff, then there’s nothing here that’ll sway you from enjoying this flick. If you’re a newbie to the franchise, then you might not have a very good time. Personally, I’m neither – I get paid the big bucks to watch stuff like this whether I like it or not. But Underworld: Blood Wars isn’t the worst film I’m gonna see this year, that’s for sure.

So who knows? You guys might dig it a bit as well.

Underworld: Blood Wars – 2 out of 5 Shrouds.

One comment

  1. SteelScissorsInYourSkull

    I remember thinking the first Underworld film had a terrible script and generic, painfully bad direction. At the time Beckinsale was younger and very pretty (though flat as a table) which helped a little. I think I’ve seen one or two others in the series but they’re all so bland and uninteresting that I can’t remember which I’ve seen and what happened.

    Outside of Twilight this series has the worst portrayal of vampires and (big emphasis here) werewolves in the history of mainstream cinema.

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