Before the Twilight series was even a fragment in author Stephenie Meyer’s mind, the Underworld franchise introduced us to the contentious co-existence of werewolves and vampires. Since that time, the entire Twilight saga (books and films) has come and gone, but Selene and her gang of Death Dealers are still going. Not going strong, mind you, but they’re still going.

The fifth Underworld film is Blood Wars, and it offers not a single new thing to the franchise that has simply plodded along like clockwork every three or four years. None of the films has made $70 million at the box office, and none of them has a rating above 35% on Rotten Tomatoes, so anyone going into the latest iteration expecting something legitimately worthwhile is not only dreaming but also more than a little misguided.

That’s not to say Blood Wars isn’t at least mildly fun and somewhat entertaining, especially for the red-blooded fanboys (and girls) who continue to enjoy the sight of Kate Beckinsale stomping around in her latex catsuit, but high-brow cinema, it ain’t.

Beckinsale is back, of course, as Selene, the pariah of the world’s Vampire clan. Her hybrid daughter Eve is hidden away at an undisclosed location to prevent the werewolves (er, Lycans) from getting their hands on her all-powerful blood, and now the Lycans have a new leader, Marius (Tobias Menzies), who is intent on wiping the Vampires out of existence.

Joined by her lone Vampire ally David (Theo James), Selene accepts an invitation to return home to train the up-and-coming Vampire army, but the invite is soon revealed to be a trap, forcing Selene and David to abandon ship and escape to–

Oh, who cares, really?

Underworld: Blood Wars isn’t terribly concerned with plot or a coherent story line. It’s just a chance for the audience to watch leather- and latex-clad goths fight each other. There are sword fights and fistfights, and more moody and atmospheric lighting than a super-fancy haunted house. It’s nifty to look at, sure, but that’s about as far as it goes.

Director Anna Foerster (TV’s Outlander) takes over the reins and does her best to make Blood Wars a relevant movie, but she made the erroneous decision to continue taking the franchise, well, seriously. Had she actually allowed a little self-awareness (and humor) to creep in, there’s a good chance the film could have been a fun reboot. Instead we’re left with a failed attempt at a hefty, dramatic story─a fact that’s exacerbated by a script from The Last Witch Hunter’s Cory Goodman. Stuffing it full of words like “bedfellow” and “fortnight”, Goodman gives the film an oddly Shakespearean vibe (furthered by the cast’s insistence on using posh British accents) that will leave you shaking your head more often than not.

In the end, Blood Wars is what it is. If you’re a fan, nothing in it will make your appreciation give up the ghost, but it’s not at all likely to garner any new fans either. There are already talks of a sixth (and final?) installment, giving Beckinsale and the filmmakers a chance to redeem themselves…and give us something to really sink our teeth into.


2/5 stars

Worth the 3D glasses?

Vampires can only play at night, so the entire film takes place before the sun comes up…meaning the film is dark enough to begin with. That, coupled with the fact that there’s very little 3D-worthy action (except the requisite blood splatter), makes 3D glasses unnecessary. Pass.