Sunday, July 09, 2017
Underworld: Blood Wars (2017)
DIRECTOR: Anna Foerster
Selene, the vampire death dealer, is still on the run after the events of Underworld: Awakening. After Selene's daughter Eve goes into hiding, Selene is unaware of her location. The heads of the vampire clan request that Selene returns so that she can train the young vampires in hopes of turning them all into a group of Death Dealers in preparation for an impending war against the Lycans. Marius, a Lycan is also after Selene and wants the location of her daughter. Selene must try and stop Marius and bring an end to the Blood War.
Back in 2003, I remember going to see Underworld in theatres with my mates. I had walked out of the film and had thoroughly enjoyed the action between the vampires and Lycan clans. It had felt like an original idea at the time. Three years later, I was back in a cinema watching Underworld: Evolution. In a shocking twist, I enjoyed the sequel even more than I did the original. The movie was, even more, action-packed and gory than the first film. So at this point, the Underworld series was two for two with me.
While this series is clearly not award-winning cinema. For me, they are still incredibly entertaining and slick looking action, horror movies. I was having a lot of fun with the franchise up until Kate Beckinsale decided to jump ship and some genius over at the studio, Screen Gems went ahead and greenlit a prequel to the first two films without her in the lead role with Underworld: Rise Of The Lycans. I believe Kate Beckinsale is one of the big reasons I watch and enjoy these films. I was glad when she returned to the series she helped build with Underworld: Awakening and even enjoyed that movie more than I did the previous entry.
We now come to the fifth entry in the Underworld series with Blood Wars, and I feel the franchise has officially run its course. This film is terrible. It's wonderful watching Kate Beckinsale back in the role of Selene, but I think after this latest entry, Screen Gems and Lakeshore Entertainment can put a fork in the series because this is done. This is sadly the worst movie of the lot. While none of the films have really intricate plots, this feels like the thinnest of them all. The story just moves from one action set-piece to the next with no real story at its core.
Underworld: Blood Wars opens with a really quick rundown of the franchise. We see glimpses of all the previous films, and once we get into Blood Wars, we understand the Selene is now on the run from both Lycan and Vampire clans. She is now being hunted down, and we queue up one of the worst action scenes I think I've seen in this series of moderately budgeted action, horror films. Terrible visual effects and horrible frantic editing just make every bit of the opening scene hard to watch. Like Resident Evil: The Final Chapter, things are so quickly cut and edited that it really does hurt the quality of the cinematography.
Len Wiseman who directed the first and second film, his direction was slick, and the action scenes were really well choreographed. Everything was just smooth and well presented. I'm glad that a female director has been given a chance to direct one of these films, but I think Len Wiseman and the guys behind Awakening just delivered a better-looking film. It probably helps that the budget for Underworld: Awakening was seventy-five million dollars and this budget was half of the previous entry. It's great to see a woman given a chance to do some action and horror cinema.
From the opening scene, Underworld: Blood Wars moves onto Selene just moving from one action scene to another. This happens with every one of these films, but here, I felt like it was very thinly plotted. There was no real surprise or solid twist with the story. We know almost immediately who is going to come out as villains, which characters are going to betray Selene and anyone on her side. Everything in this story has been done before in other movies of this ilk. I was incredibly bored throughout the film. It felt like this was the final nail in the coffin.
The acting in Underworld: Blood Wars is hit and miss for me. Kate Beckinsale is an actress I really like and admire. I've even met her at a bar in London, and she was very kind and friendly. Willing to take photos with everyone in the bar. I think she is so much better than all this material. Watch her in Love & Friendship, Vacancy, The Aviator, Nothing But The Truth, Brokedown Palace or even Snow Angels and you will see an extremely talented actress who can deliver a solid performance. I think she is the saving grace of these films but deserves much better material.
The supporting cast who are rounded out by talent like Charles Dance who is only in this as a very small supporting role and is underused in here. Both Theo James and Bradley James are both very nice to look at but let's face it, they aren't given much else to do other than fight and be the male eye candy. The villains in this film played by Tobias Menzies and Lara Pulver just don't have that same on-screen presence as Bill Nighy or Michael Sheen who are both thespians. Charles Dance would've been a better villain. When you have a class act like him, use him to his full potential.
Lastly, when it comes to the violence in this movie, I was left a little underwhelmed. After the brutal Underworld: Evolution, I think you needed to up the gore factor, and this sadly didn't even come close. There is a really awesome scene where a Lycan is sliced in half with a sword that suddenly happens, and it's completely out of the blue but when that's the highlight of the film, and you don't remember much else when it comes to an element like the gore, it's really not that memorable overall.
DEATH TOLL: 98 (Estimated)
BLOOD AND GORE:
- Someone is decapitated.
- Someone's neck is snapped.
- Lots of people are shot in the head.
- Someone's head is impaled on a metal pole.
- A Lycan is drowned.
- A Lycan gets chopped in half with a sword.
- An arrow gets stabbed into someone's eye.
- A Lycan has its spine ripped out.
- People are drained of blood.
- Someone is stabbed in the head with a sword.
- A lot of throat slashing.
- Someone gets a knife to the head.
- A group of vampires burning to death.
- Someone is shot with a grappling hook.
- A whole group of vampires are shot with UV bullets.
- Someone is stabbed in the stomach and spine.
- Someone gets their hand cut off.
- People are stabbed with swords.
In a franchise like Underworld, you don't go in expecting a high calibre movie. This is not an award-winning sort of film. You're going in to watch a flick where vampires go to war with werewolves. This is meant to be brainless slop. Underworld: Blood Wars wasn't even that for me. This film felt like the death or the series for me. It was the final nail in the coffin. I know a lot of people hate the series but the first, second and fourth films were all enjoyable for me. This just felt like enough was enough. I think it's time to call it a day with this Underworld series.