It’s kind of surreal that Underworld sequels are still being made. The original 2003 film by Len Wiseman had a great idea but was executed in an okay-ish manner and there was nothing in that film that made one want more. And yet here we stand with the fifth film in the franchise, titled Blood Wars. If you’ve been a fan of the last four films you might be able to sit through the predictable thrills of this film, but for the rest of us there’s little in the film to recommend.
It’s hard to keep track of what the protagonist of the films, Selene, played by Kate Beckinsale in glossy tight leather has been doing all these years, because it seems like she’s been stuck in the war between vampires and werewolves for an eternity now, without much progress. It’s also hard to keep track of where the establishing storylines have gone because at various points we were introduced to vampire-werewolf combos but they just disappeared and were never brought up again.
In Blood Wars nothing really has changed — vampires are still fighting werewolves. We’re reminded that Selene had a child and the film begins with the mother explaining the events of the previous films to her daughter. We’re also told that Selene now has a new flame in the form of David (Theo James, because Scott Speedman from the first two films is presumably now too old). David’s father Thomas (Charles Dance) and Selene discover that her child is the target of the villainous Samira (Laura Pulver from Sherlock) and that her daughter’s blood may be of special value.
What follows is the same, tired clichés of a clan of vampires being attacked by a clan of werewolves and vice versa, and a sub clan of vampires turning against its own. It’s quite remarkable to note that the film has four credited writers considering there’s not an iota of newness to see. Perhaps sticking to the formula was the norm, but that doesn’t explain how four writers are needed to execute something that’s already been done four times before. The juxtaposition of the gun-brandishing chic black vampires with the feral weaponless werewolves is as unsubtle as always, and there’s bullets flying everywhere as Selene and her daughter jump from one place to another.
The problem isn’t the clichéd action bits but how little action there is in the film. For some unknown reason, director Anna Foerster assumes long-winded monologues and endless morose banter is far more interesting than vampires punching werewolves, so you get two hours of uninteresting people saying uninteresting things and around seven minutes of action.
What is even more frustrating is that the central plot of Selene’s daughter and what is so magical and special about her blood is left unanswered even at the end of the film. We leave the theater with the tease that the question will be answered in the next film — not the best strategy considering anyone who watches Blood Wars would not exactly be excited for the next one. Ultimately if you’re looking for footage of Beckinsale looking really classy in black leather go and see the film at the earliest, if you’re looking for an entertaining film you’ll need to look elsewhere.