Underworld: Blood Wars
Cast: Kate Beckinsale, Theo James, Charles Dance, Lara Pulver, Tobias Menzies, James Faulkner, Bradley James, Trent Garrett
Director: Anna Foerster
Five years after Underworld: Awakening, the action horror franchise is back with instalment five which lives up to its name: it’s bloody and brutal. Unlike some movie narratives though, not necessarily horror, which have a twist in the tail; Underworld: Blood Wars erupts in plot twists which engage viewer interest in the story and characters; usually perfidious.
Perfidy of course comes with a hidden agenda – overweening ambition, forbidden love…you know the motives that drive homo sapiens. The species in the film under review though as you know, are the undead who display all of the strengths and weaknesses of the living.
Pivotal to the narrative is a woman warrior vampire (Kate Beckinsale reprising her role as Selene) who looks to the Vampire Elder Thomas (Charles Dance, impressive) and his son David (an earnest Theo James, also reprising his role from the 2012 instalment) to end the centuries-long hostility between their species and the Lycans (were wolves) Unending enmity spawns star crossed lovers – Selene had a daughter in 2009’s Underworld: Rise of the Lycans with Lycan-vampire hybrid true love Michael Corvin whom viewers now see in nightmarish flashbacks.
Now Selene and her daughter (also seen only in flashbacks) are hunted for their extra-special blood both by the Lycans’s ruthless new chief Marius (Tobias Menzies, strong) and a vile vampire princess Semira (Lara Pulver, riveting) who covets the united coven throne, which has been rendered vacant in the absence of a Pure Blood.
More twists unspool in the screenplay by Cory Goodman from a story by Kyle Ward; FPJ reader might like to note Underworld blood wars is helmed, for the first time in the series actually, by a woman Anna Foerster, of “Criminal Minds” and “Outlander” fame. Unsurprisingly, Ms Foerster underlines the femme side of the movie with strong women characters who are ready to die for love/family/faction.
The faint-hearted might be unable to stomach extreme close-ups of CGI gore but the cinematographer and editor know when enough is enough. Appropriately lensed in a blue-grey patina, Underworld Blood Wars doesn’t go over the top. It’s a shame an important character is dispensed with but perhaps Chapter six will resurrect him? After all, Selene is unique, a twice-dead. Chapter Six should be most interesting.