I feel that I need to make a statement before I waste any of your time skirting around the sole truth surrounding the latest instalment in the Underworld franchise – you likely won’t be surprised (or you might be, and that would be a surprise in itself), but it is clear that in Underworld: Blood Wars, style over substance prevails.
This time around, protagonist Selene (Kate Beckinsale) finds herself among the vampire world’s most powerful and elite, training a younger set of fighters to defeat the ferocious werewolf Lycan clan. As if Selene isn’t having a tough enough time already, she also has to contend with evil vampire Samira (Lara Pulver), who is hell-bent on becoming leader of the vampire coven. We know that Samira is evil, because she tells us. All the time.
Let’s hold Samira up as a prime example of what is fundamentally wrong with this film. It’s tinged in an icy cool blue that has the potential to send a shiver up your spine, it’s embedded with highly sexualised men and women, and it’s filled with choppy action scene after choppy action scene. It all feels a little random and hastily thought out; as though there was a lot more intrigue and juicy plot that could have been added in, but for whatever reason, was left out or not considered at all.
Beckinsale emits the kind of guarded, ice-queen aura that should be right at home in this film, but she just seems over it; delivering a phoned-in performance suggesting that she returned because she contractually had to, not because of any supposed passion for the Underworld franchise. Beckinsale’s fellow cast members perform their roles in the same manner, suggesting that they too don’t particularly care or believe in what they’re saying, or perhaps that they are too inexperienced to deliver even slightly multifaceted performances.
Audiences will likely watch this film because of its promise to deliver a meaty chunk of action. The action is indeed gruesome and slightly suspenseful, but doesn’t feel authentic. It feels like budget Game of Thrones, almost as though the filmmakers wanted to capitalise on the popular TV show’s ability to meld medieval politics with gasp-inducing action, though Underworld: Blood Wars probably won’t make you gasp. At the very most, it’ll make you reach for your choc top in the hope that something will make your viewing session slightly more palatable.
It was originally thought that this was Kate Beckinsale’s last movie playing the character Selene, but Len Wiseman has confirmed a sixth movie is in development with Beckinsale reprising her character.