Underworld: Blood Wars, 2017.
Directed by Anna Foerster.
Starring Kate Beckinsale, Theo James, Charles Dance, Tobias Menzies, Lara Pulver, James Faulkner, Peter Andersson, Bradley James, Daisy Head and Clementine Nicholson.
Underworld: Blood Wars follows Vampire death dealer, Selene (Kate Beckinsale) as she fends off brutal attacks from both the Lycan clan and the Vampire faction that betrayed her. With her only allies, David (Theo James) and his father Thomas (Charles Dance), she must stop the eternal war between Lycans and Vampires, even if it means she has to make the ultimate sacrifice.
A film shouldn’t have to start with a “previously on.” A film shouldn’t have to start with a “previously on” then continue to play out as a “previously on” with dialogue existing only as an expositional device to reinforce it’s existence as a “previously on.” A film should not; 20, 40, 60 minutes in drop in a further “previously on” reminding the audience of the nonsensical goings on of what occurred earlier. Underworld: Blood Wars, the fifth (FIFTH!) unholy incarnation of a forced franchise stagnant and putrid upon arrival 13 years back, exists only as a shallow, tedious epilogue to what will likely be a sixth “previously on.”
Hot off a career high performance in the delightful Love and Friendship, Kate Beckinsale forces herself back into her nightshade condom as Selene, now on the run from the Lycans and the vampires, an entirely interchangeable mish mash of those most likely to have a high attendance at Papa Roach shows with bedrooms littered with energy drinks and Claire’s Accessories emo garb.
As the “previously on” tells us, her child-the first pure blood lycan/vampire hybrid-is being hunted for her blood for a reason really never made clear. All this as David (Theo James, deserving far better) discovers a vital piece of information about his father (Charles Dance doing a Charles Dance) and his deceased mother; Semira (Lara Pulver, also deserving far better) yearns for power and goth lycan superstar Marius (Tobias Menzies, again also deserving far better) readies his army for a war against the vampires.
Plotting is incessant and belligerent, with threads developed and dropped with little care whilst lame attempts at twists – of which there are many – fail hysterically. Double crosses become triple crosses become quadruple crosses and so and so on. Stakes (both literally and figuratively) are entirely absent; conflict is empty and vacuous whilst grand moments of sacrifice mean absolutely nothing.
For an action franchise, the fight sequences are ugly and entirely inconsequential. Wobbly CGI werewolves reminiscent of Taylor Lautner in Twilight battle lifeless, similarly wobbly figures that might be vampires. It’s impossible to work out. The frame is busy and dark; any moment of action is cut to an inch of its life reducing any punch thrown or bullet shot to but a footnote.
Then there’s the congested lore of the whole affair. Director Anna Foerster – a television veteran and Roland Emmerich crony – packs the film to the brim with dim-witted folklore (an ancient Nordic vampire sect is built up as being legend but the audience is told nothing) all whilst attempting to place emphasis on the film as something vaguely allegorical.
Nothing about Underworld: Blood Wars is allegorical. To even discuss it would be to give the film certain credit of which it does not deserve. It exists only to fulfill the fantasy of its fan base and at this point, one has to question as to whether they exist. As a franchise, it’s not even of a level of the putrid Resident Evil films. There is no rhyme or reason to its existence and it has the balls to call for a further goddamn sequel. Stop it. Go to your room. Listen to Papa Roach. Have a can of your energy drink. This is your fault.
Flickering Myth Rating – Film: ★ / Movie: ★