UNDERWORLD: BLOOD WARS (REVIEW)
Dir. Anna Foerster
Reviewer. Martyn Wakefield
Snow. Check. Family. Check. A castle surrounded by ice. Check. Vampires. Check. Surely the fifth entry on the UNDERWORLD series classes as a Christmas movie right?
Selene (Kate Beckinsale) is back and badder than ever! Now entering with entry five of the UNDERWORLD franchise and returns back to its modern gothic roots with a raw battle between Lycan and Vampire with all of the backstabbing betrayals you’d expect from EASTENDERS, ahem UNDERWORLD.
So far in the world of leather clad Death Dealers, hybrids and werewolves, Selene has battled the good fight, been betrayed by her elder, abandoned her daughter and now finds herself in the middle of being headhunted by Vampire and enemy of Lycan. Her only ally is her partner and love interest David (Theo James) and the Lycan’s, now lead by a stronger leader in Marius (Tobias Menzies), are chasing Selene to take the blood of her daughter to end the war that has raged for centuries.
As ever, BLOOD WARS is laced in gothic mythology and adds additional layers to the dark aesthetic adopted by the series. The return to a more vampiric setting of Eastern Europe as opposed to the metropolitan bustling of AWAKENING is more pleasing and feels natural to the series, the battles are as fast and frantic as ever but the scenery blends into the scenes as if it were a part of the fight. A break from the pitch-black scenery famed by previous entries, a trip to a Nordic safe house adds some light to proceedings, and even Selene’s wardrobe.
After 5 entries, the twists and turns, of which there are plenty, become the franchises formula and no longer feel as warranted as they once were and are to be expected rather than ignored. The unfolding drama between the vampiric royalty hasn’t changed and is almost as if the films create a larger chess piece of game playing that gives the brutal animalistic nature of Lycan’s the ultimate right to win the war.
BLOOD WARS doesn’t shy from the violence with blood splattered like a food fight and although the film plays heavy to CGI, the werewolf transformations are always entertaining to see.
More importantly, the legacy of the franchise continues to build and while the film may feel tired and have reverted back to a simpler story that feels more akin to a sequel to the 2003 hit than a companion to everything that came before, it certainly is much better received than AWAKENING. A few additional flourishes of violence and abilities introduced to the creatures add some extra dimension to the battle scenes and make up for the familiar wooden tone adopted by the cast in their decades of everlasting life. If you’re a fan of the series, it’s a return to form here but BLOOD WARS won’t be winning over any new fans.
Unfortunately, to stand by Selene, her battle worn cries for death are shared by the franchise and while BLOOD WARS is a solid entry and leaves more story to be told, the end is nigh and hopefully will be captured sooner rather than later.