It’s unlikely any particular chapter of the Underworld franchise will ever be considered a timeless classic. The movies have always been a showcase for stylish action scenes and Kate Beckinsale’s adroitness at filling out a pair of PVC pants rather than possessing old fashioned qualities like “a plot” or “a semblance of coherence”. However, if you make the mistake of seeing Underworld: Blood Wars (don’t) you may find yourself longing for the nuanced subtlety of the original Underworld or the Wildean wit of Rise of the Lycans.
Blood Wars’ story begins with Selene (Kate Beckinsale) narrating a summary of the previous four (!) films. It’s rather telling that the best bits of flashback footage all come from the original couple of movies. Hopefully you’re comfortable watching these rehashed loops, they return incessantly. Anyway, Selene’s moping around because she was betrayed by her vampire clan, and the Lycans (werewolves) have a new leader, Marius (Tobias Menzies), and everyone wants her daughter’s blood because it’s full of magical antioxidants or something.
After what seems an eternity of endless, po-faced dialogue scored by shockingly bad and tonally mismatched music, the narrative limps along to a point where Selene, her pal David (Theo James) and his dad, Thomas (Charles Dance) uncover a plot orchestrated by bargain-basement-Eva-Green, Samira (Lara Pulver). The movie then threatens to become “dumb but fun” but, nope, one underwhelming action scene later and it’s back to moping and monologues.
Underworld: Blood Wars was clearly made for less money than some of its predecessors but in the hands of a skilled director a smaller budget need not equate to lesser thrills. However, first time feature director, Anna Foerster does very little with the admittedly thin material on offer here. The action scenes are all generic, the wirework obvious and clumsy and – with one or two notable moments aside – are forgettable variants of vampire action you’ve seen dozens of times before. This would almost be forgivable if any of the characters managed to be even vaguely interesting, but everyone is terminally dull with the possible exception of Lara Pulver, who is terrible but at least looks like she’s having a little bit of fun with her legion of baffle-witted emo acolytes. Kate Beckinsale looks great and fills out those pants charmingly as always but her entire character arc in this movie is: she eventually gets frosted tips and a new winter coat!
Of all the many sins that Underworld: Blood Wars commits, the most egregious is the fact that it doesn’t have a proper ending. The frequently hinted at McGuffin-daughter-with-the-magic-blood subplot remains unresolved except for a last minute stinger designed to excite audience members for the next chapter in the Underworld franchise. If it’s anything like this flat, inert, tour-de-force of mopey wankers you’d be better off staying home and doing literally anything else.