By the time any film franchise reaches its third and fourth chapters the concept inevitably begins to run dry, and by the fifth installment, even once great films concepts start to taste stale. The Underworld series however is a special exception to this film rule, and even though none of the films have received major critical acclaim, its devoted fan base continues to flock to theatres to see the next chapter in the never-ending vampire verses werewolf drama. If you have never seen Underworld, or any of the preceding films, then Blood Wars is a very bad starting point. For the loyal fans, well, the story remains the same as always, Selene (Kate Beckinsale), a death dealer, or vampire elite and Lycan killing machine, is thrown into the age-old feud that her people and the Lycans (wolfs) have been at for centuries. This time around, the Lycans have regrouped and found a new leader in a Lycan named Marius, a very background villain who only pops up during the battle sequences to remind us that he’s supposed to be the antagonist. It doesn’t end there though, and for better or worse, audiences are treated to several sub-plots, including but not limited to David (Theo James) learning about his own mysterious bloodline, and a power hungry vampiress who crave Selene’s blood for the power it possesses. Both these plots attempt to further the story, but ultimately end up rushing through their respective storylines so that audiences can be subjected to more bloody vampire on Lycan action. While the film does come close to redeeming itself in its final act with an exciting rapid-fire showdown, Underworld: Blood Wars makes one mistake that cannot be overlooked no matter how hard one tries, and that’s the films refusal to include Selene’s daughter, Eve, at any point throughout the film. The film ultimately attempts to explain away the character that virtually drove the fourth film, but in the end, it feels like a weak attempt and a huge waste of a great character. Overall, Underworld: Blood Wars, may be called a satisfying addition to the series, but with so many missed opportunities and incomplete storylines, it may be hard for even the biggest fans to leave a theatre feeling like they got their money’s worth.
While it was already a well-known fact that Blood wars wouldn’t be attracting the casual moviegoer, but even so, the writers at least owe it to the film’s devoted fan base to present a credible addition. Aside from the aforementioned rushed sub-plots and wasted characters, the film suffers from an utter lack of editing and directing, and for every scene that hits its mark, another misses by a mile. Possibly the saddest part about the off-screen work though, is the complete if not obvious lack of interest that newbie director Anna Foerster seems to show in her work. Based off her work on the dazzling Starz series Outlander, one would be expecting the same attention to detail, visuals, and most importantly her badass female lead, but again, it is sadly disappointing to think about what could have been. Aside from the behind camera work, not much can be said about the acting. Beckinsale and James play their parts dutifully, but even their characters seem written into a corner, with never a moment to demonstrate their true prowess. With Blood Wars being the fifth chapter in the series, it was the perfect opportunity to rewrite itself, and finally make a compelling story for more than the fans, but that opportunity came and went, giving us a lackluster addition in the process.
Underworld will always be a film for the fans, but even the fans might feel a little cheated by Blood Wars. With the right minds at work, and a little effort from its creators, Blood Wars could have been the film that launched the franchise back into the public eye, and it’s quite clear that many if not all the pieces were there to do so. Underworld fans may walk away satisfied with this film, but few others will. While Underworld fans should consider this film a toss-up, everyone else is better off at home.
FINAL GRADE: D+