Underworld: Blood Wars continues the mediocre story of the mediocre war against Vampires and Lycans, which began with the mediocre first Underworld film way back in 2003. Since then we’ve had two horrible sequels, and one pretty decent prequel. Why do these movies keep getting made? I remember the first few actually had a fairly rabid fan base, but is the demand for more Underworld movies really all that high after 14 years? I don’t even have any friends who have any interest in seeing this, and I have tons of friends who love shitty movies unironically. Hell, I only saw it because it was part of a double feature at the Mission Tiki Drive-In paired with a movie I actually HAD interest in seeing.
The plot is so convoluted and messy that I get a headache every time I try to piece it all together. Kate Beckinsale is back as Selene, even though she seemingly left the franchise after the second one, but either money or boredom brought her back for 2012’s Underworld: Awakening. No joke, I saw that movie twice in theaters and I still can’t remember one single thing about it aside from the fact that Kate Beckinsale was in it and Scott Speedman wasn’t. Oh, and there was something about Selene having a daughter.
The movie opens up with Selene doing her usual droll voiceover to footage from the previous movies; then a gang of werewolves inquiring about her daughter’s whereabouts attacks her. Get used to Selene saying “I don’t know where my daughter is.” Because that line is uttered over and over again ad nauseam. Seriously, it’s like every 12 minutes the script has to remind us that Selene doesn’t know where her daughter is. The werewolves belong to some Über Lycan alpha male called Marius, played by Game of Thrones’ Tobias Menzies. He wants to destroy all of the Vampires, and he has a plan to do so, but he needs that pesky daughter of Selene’s.
There’s also a Vampire played by Lara Pulver who’s upset at Selene for killing Victor. Victor was played by Bill Nighy way back in the first and the third Underworld films, and to be honest, I had to look that up because when the characters in this movie referenced Victor, the first thing that came out of my mouth was “Who the hell is Victor?” That shit went down four movies ago! Casual moviegoers don’t have the capacity to remember things from 14 years ago! How do they expect us to keep track of all of this nonsense? The answer is not another monotone Kate Beckinsale “I…am a death dealer…” soliloquy, that’s for sure.
I can’t say anything about the cinematography because the entire movie was so dark that I could barely see what was happening. Holy shit, did the special effects look bad in this! This was 90’s bad…like, almost ‘Werewolf in Paris’ bad. The actors are all either bland or stupidly over the top; there is no happy medium. There are hints of some really interesting ideas that were left woefully unexplored; you have the Lycans portrayed as sort of a downtrodden race; especially when they are juxtaposed with the gaudy clothes, high tech weaponry, and extravagant living quarters the Vampires seem to be enjoying, yet this possible social commentary is blatantly ignored. Why not explore this? We get no insight into the Lycans and why they do what they do. They’re just there to be the bad guys, there’s nothing more to them, making the Vampire/Lycan war boring to anyone not completely invested in the franchise. It’s not as atrocious as Underworld: Awakening was, but it’s damned close in terms of forgetability. Either do something new and different with the Underworld franchise, or better yet, leave it dead…decapitated, staked through the heart, and left out in the sun so that it never, ever comes back.
Underworld: Blood Wars (2017) Directed by: Anna Foerster. Written by: Cory Goodman. Starring: Kate Beckinsale, Theo James, Lara Pulver, Tobias Menzies, Charles Dance
3 1/2 out of 10