Sunday, December 04, 2016

Underworld: Blood Wars

Year: 2016
Director: Anna Foerster
Cast: Kate Beckinsale, Theo James, Lara Pulver, Tobias Menzies, Charles Dance, James Faulkner, Clementine Nicholson, Daisy Head, Bradley James, Peter Andersson

Plot: Selene has grown weary of the vampire-lycan war, and is now on the run from both clans, each seeking to capture her for her unique blood, which will give either side the power to win the war. Now she has to fight for her life, with only David, the vampire she saved in Awakening, as her ally.

Review: The Underworld franchise is similar to the Resident Evil franchise: violent, fun and disposable entertainment. The kind that you watch now, have a nice ride and accept for what it is, seldom ranking it as art. So if you've always had a great disdain for these films, you can stop reading now.

Kate Beckinsale has been the center piece of the Underworld series (except for the third film prequel) and continues to do what she does best: kicking ass. In this fifth instalment, Selene is on her own again. She has separated herself from her daughter Eve (introduced in Awakening), not even knowing her whereabouts to protect her from being found. Selene has grown tired of the war, but both lycan and vampire groups continue to hunt her down. Through David, her only ally left, she learns that the vampire council has requested her to train their army into formidable Death Dealers like herself, in order to face the onslaught of the lycans, now united under Marius. However, she's in for a few surprises, and again forced to seek help elsewhere.

New director Anna Foerster, working with a script by Kyle Ward and Cory Goodman, just manages to keep the new Underworld film engaging enough by introducing new places and characters. Sure, some will say the action is more or less similar and the vampires and lycans just picked up where they left off, but for fans, they get to revisit the vampire council (not seen since the first film) and check out a new vampire faction that live in the northern mountains. There is also a subplot involving David's origins which tie in to the vampire council. These elements somehow elevate Blood Wars above what would have been a mediocre Underworld outing.

In terms of acting, the cast do well enough, nothing outstanding, which is forgivable, being an action film and all. Beckinsale does seem a tad tired from doing this role again, but she clearly hasn't lost a step in the action department. Theo James continues to be rather bland as David, but he does try harder this time around as his role has expanded somewhat. Da Vinci's Demons' Lara Pulver and Game Of Thrones' Tobias Menzies are the antagonists here, the former faring better in her role as the scheming Semira, the latter being rather miscast as Marius (sorry, but Edmure Tully just doesn't have what it takes to look evil). Glad to see another Da Vinci cast member, James Faulkner show up as vampire council member Cassius, but he doesn't have enough screen time though. Clementine Nicholson makes an interesting character out of Lena, one of the vampires from the northern clan, though the spiritual mumbo jumbo was a bit too hard to swallow.

If compared to the previous films, Blood Wars does fall short in the action department (Evolution and Awakening were the best), and the ambiguous final shot doesn't help matters. But like I said, one watches these films for entertainment, and as a movie fan, I was entertained.

Bottom line is, if you never liked this franchise, Blood Wars won't change your mind. If you love it, then go see it. (7/10)

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