A decent action horror series …Once, long ago.
Kate Beckinsale clad in tight black latex and kicking ass. A stimulating image that’s become an icon of cinematic history. The 2003 film ‘Underworld’ introduced us to vampire “death dealer” Selene and her vampire vs. lycan (werewolf) universe. The fifth series installment, 2016’s ‘Underworld: Blood Wars‘ has very little of what made that first film special. But, at least Beckinsale still looks great in latex.
The fourth film ‘Underworld: Awakening’ was (and remains) a series low. A complete mess of style over substance. ‘Blood War’s‘ direct continuation makes a few improvements. First, vampire warrior/ally David (Theo James) not only gets a backstory but also a destiny. James and Beckinsale form a decent, almost convincing onscreen partnership as two tragic vampire outcasts.
At only 90 minutes barely a drop of screen time is wasted on silly little things like plot and making sense. All attention is put towards the hyper-kinetic high tech vampire/werewolf battles. And the series’ tradition of using stellar acting support in delivering this, often cringe-worthy dialog.
Beyond Beckinsale and James there’s Lara Pulver chewing scenery as bitch goddess “Semira“, Tobias Menzies as the prefunctory badass Alpha lycan “Marius“, and the great Charles Dance returning as vampire elder “Thomas“.
Coming off TV, most notably ‘Outlander’, director Anna Foerster does wonders with an incomplete script. Loads of style and attitude. Hoping her next film project has a story and some character development.
The heart of the first film (as well, as its first two sequels) was an old-world romantic love built between the lead characters that gave weight to the insanity. Despite the killer style and action, we cared about what was happening to these immortal characters because they cared about what was happening to each other. This story simply lacks any emotional weight. No film chemistry/romance = Who gives a sh*t!
So despite some really cool concepts like netherworld vampires, loads of crazy action, a decent cast, and an always sexy, always brooding Kate Beckinsale ‘Underworld: Blood Wars‘ is all flash, no bang. The embodiment of indulgent, easily disposable entertainment.