Underworld: Blood Wars
Directed by Anna Foerster
Starring Kate Beckinsale, Theo James, Lara Pulver, Charles Dance
Review by Jordan
There is a special kind of pleasure reserved for Underworld devotees, who take comfort from the reassurance that although times change, Selene doesn’t. Each entry has been fashioned from the same fetishistic design, with slight variances recognizable when the gaze is allowed to drift from Beckinsale and onto the overall design. The post-Matrix action of the 2003 original gave way to the sleeker, sexier Evolution, which was belatedly followed in 2012 after a non-cannon prequel by Awakening: a swift, simpler movie that ignited promise for the future of the Vampire/Lycan war.
Underworld: Blood Wars, with its dearth of satisfying set-pieces and glut of exposition, is for those already won over by the series’ styling and absurdly convoluted lore. Indeed, those using the fifth instalment as an introductory point will be about as lost as Selene’s hybrid daughter Eve or Michael post-imprisonment. The plot here further involves treachery, betrayal and historical references to past Vampire elders and their continued bloodlines, as both factions search for Selene in the belief that she is the key to render their side victorious. The former Death-Dealer’s only trusted allies remain the influential Thomas (Charles Dance) and his son David (Theo James), with a lust for power threatening to destabilize the Vampires once more as the Lycans go on the offensive, lead by the hulking Marius.
A bridging entry that unfortunately borders on tedium for long stretches, Blood Wars maintains a serious tone we’ve come to expect but fails to provide adequate payoff for its stern demeanour. Every conversation is explanatory, and each battle is rushed an unimaginative, with the only constant source of guilty pleasure entertainment coming from the increasingly immortal beauty, who this time around feels the icy sting of death and returns from the experience with a cool new hairstyle. With the powerful, more fearsome villains in Marcus and Viktor dispatched previously, the threat here is left wanting of menace also. Marius is wholly uncharismatic, and although he demands the contrary, it appears very much like he is in fact leading another band of slaves, and the conniving Semira (Lara Pulver), although offering more and looking the part of a villainess, never seems strong enough to influence the greater story.
It seems highly likely that the vast majority of it’s audience will be those who know what to expect, and are willing to suffer its flaws for another chance to see Selene question her allegiances and discover more about her past, but for everyone else, Underworld: Blood Wars will be an utterly confusing experience with far fewer pleasures to bask in. Consider it a good warm-up to Resident Evil: The Final Chapter.