Underworld Blood Wars Review

The Plot:

Vampire outcast Selene is yet again pulled reluctantly back into the never ending war between Vampires and werewolf Lycans. Pursued by both the Lycans new leader Marius and the remaining Vampire Covens, Selene must unite with her dwindling allies to fight if she hopes to continue to protect her disappeared hybrid daughter.

The Good

The surprisingly resilient box office success of the Underworld series can essentially be distilled to one simple truth. Kate Beckinsale looks pretty cool brandishing twin handguns in slow motion while clad in a shamelessly skin-tight faux leather catsuit. Her miraculously ageless appearance has helped give this character a semi-iconic status by virtue of longevity alone.  13 years after the original film established her as a viable action heroine Beckinsale remains entirely capable of portraying an immortal warrior blessed with superhuman strength, model good looks and a stoically blank expression.

Among the relatively few returning faces form the past films, Theo James and Charles Dance make the best of things. Divergent star James manages to hold his own as vampire warrior David, introduced in the last film and promoted this time to leading man duties by virtue of contractual obligations. Game Of Thrones scheming star Dance also adds some much needed gravitas to his scenes. New cast member Sherlock star Lara Pulver does well to inject actual presence into vampire villainess Semira.

The Underworld franchise also trades heavily on the perpetual pop culture appeal of Vampire, Werewolves and overly stylized CGI action sequences. The massive advances in visual effects in the past decade means that the trademark noirish fantasy world of this sequel is about as slick and well-polished technically as anything the past films could offer.

The Bad

Marking the fifth film in the franchise it’s very difficult for Blood Wars to ever hope to condense the increasingly convoluted backstory and tangled plot lines of the past 13 years of sequels and prequels in a way that makes it readily accessible for a new audience. Though the film tries to give newcomers and more forgetful fans a quick recap there’s still plenty of references to past events and characters that could soon find them feeling lost.

Though the film focuses on a fairly simple new narrative, it’s fair to say that whenever the action slows down audience interest may wane. In truth exposition ridden dialogue has never been one of the series strong suits. The film’s attempts to prologue half-forgotten subplots while also injecting entirely new elements of supernatural mythology into the series have mixed results at best.

The forth film in the franchise Underworld Awakening was very much billed as a climactic chapter when it breathed belated new life into the series in 2012. Reviving the story yet again after another five years is asking a lot of audience’s patience, especially when the series had already always lacked a true sense of narrative necessity.

Though Blood Wars sets up an adequate series of plot points and CGI loaded battle scenes it’s all overly familiar for anyone who has by now sat through over 8 hours of the past films. Weak initial box office results suggest that perhaps audiences may finally have had enough and that teasing hopes of a sixth film will likely prove overly optimistic.

The Ugly Truth

Blood Wars represents a fairly satisfactory continuation of the Underworld franchise that should at least please any remaining die-hard fans and those looking for a guilty pleasure action flick.

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