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Monday, February 13, 2017

Underworld: Blood Wars (2017) – Review

By this fifth installment of the Underworld series we must come to the conclusion that it will continue as long as Kate Beckinsale will agree to wear leather and a corset, the series offers little more than that for returning fans, and the subtitle “Blood Wars” is about as meaningless as the previous installment title “Awakenings” did, and honestly by this point it should be called “Underworld: We’re Making This Up As We Go.”

When we last saw Death Dealer Selene (Kate Beckinsale) her and her daughter Eve had vowed to track down Michael Corvin, Selene’s Lycan/Vampire Hybrid lover and Eve’s father, but this film picks up with a group of Lycans trying to capture Selene to learn the whereabouts of her daughter.  And exactly where is her daughter?  Has the mission to find Michael, who was wanted by both Lycans and vampires, been put on hold? We learn that Selene has separated from her daughter, for her own good apparently, and even she doesn’t know where Eve is. Marius (Tobias Menzies), the new leader of the Lycans, doesn’t believe this and spends the bulk of the movie sending wave after wave of his warriors after her, but he isn’t the only threat to Selene as vampire council member Semira (Lara Pulver) is able to convince the other vampire leaders, with the help of Vampire Elder Thomas (Charles Dance), that they need Selene to train the neophyte Death Dealers if they are to have any hope in defeating the Lycans, “You need Selene. Her prowess, her leadership, her intimate knowledge of Lycans, and her combat skills are second to none.”


“Did I mention how hot she looks in leather?”

Thus begins the mess that is Underworld: Blood Wars. After being constantly betrayed by pretty much everyone Selene, for some reason, agrees to help out.  Maybe she couldn't find anything decent on Netflix to watch.  Nevertheless she returns to the headquarters of the Eastern Coven with David (Theo James), the son of Thomas and is the vampire that she magically saved in the last movie by giving him her blood, and almost immediately after her arrival she is betrayed by Semira and her generic lover Varga (Bradley James). Turns out that Semira really wants the power that lies within Selene’s blood just as a badly as Marius wants Eve’s blood.  Marius wants the blood so that his Lycans can finally defeat the vampire clans while Semira wants Selene's blood so she can walk in the daylight, and I want a series that can come up with a less ridiculous plot.


The film does take a break so Selene can train a bunch of escapees from a Young Adult movie franchise.

All this fighting over Eve and Selene's blood is obviously what the subtitle “Blood Wars” alludes to but it barely has any real point to the proceedings, sure Selene’s blood gives one the ability to withstand sunlight but that only highlights how lame the vampires of this series are.  This cinematic version of vampires seem almost easier to kill than a regular human. In fact what can and cannot kill a vampire or Lycan is constantly in flux throughout this series, in the first Underworld movie Selene was stabbed in the shoulder and crashed her car into the lake due to blood loss, and she almost drowned. Wait, can vampires drown, aren't they supposed to be the immortal dead?  Then for this series's take on werewolves we see numerous instances where Lycans are pulling or popping out silver bullets and throwing stars as if they are minor annoyances.  This all makes one question how the vampires subjugated the Lycans in the first place?


Does this look like an easily domesticated servant?

Then we have Marius and his desire for Eve’s blood because it is apparently the key to making his army of Lycans strong enough to take down the Eastern Coven, we are told that the defenses of the Coven would decimate the Lycans without this upgrade, but when the attack does take place, and without the precious blood Eve would have provided, they seem to do just fine. The tactic they choose was to attack during the day and shoot holes through the walls thus letting the sun in to incinerate the vampires (a pretty good tactic but why they insists on doing this hole punching from inside the vampire fortress opposed to from the outside in the sunlight is still a mystery to me) and proves that the whole “We need Eve's blood” thing was just a stupid MacGuffin.


“Sir, we know where the vampires live so how about we just bomb the place?”

Then if that wasn’t lame enough we have betrayals stacked on top of betrayals, not only does Semira betray Selina but she hopes to overthrow the council itself, but wait there’s more as it turns out Alexia (Daisy Head), an Eastern Coven vampire sent by Semira to track down Selene is actually in love with Marius and is working with the Lycans. How this constant state of betrayal exists among beings who can access each other’s memories simply by tasting one another’s blood is beyond me. If I was a head vampire I’d be constantly tasting my minions blood to ensure none of them were planning on stabbing me in the back. This incessant political infighting and betrayal is the heart of the series and is its most boring element.


“You have betrayed me, but ha-ha I’ve betrayed you first.”

And just when you think the mythology of the Underworld movies couldn’t get any dumber we are introduced to a Nordic Coven who have long known that there is more than just this world and that they have a ritual that allows a vampire to die and visit the “Sacred World” and then return with super powers.  Selene is told by Lena (Clementine Nicholson) that she herself has visited the sacred world many times, “My eyes see beyond the surface of so many things.” This visiting of other realms also gives one the ability to kind of “Ghost teleport” in combat, a handy tactic that is only randomly used here when if you could do such an amazing thing you'd use it at every possible opportunity.  If you think Selene will at some point gain this ability give yourself a cookie.


Vampire or Witch, does anyone care at this point?

We also get a bullshit reveal that David is also the son of Elder vampire Amelia, and thus the rightful heir to the Eastern Coven, but by this point I’d gone well passed not caring. Underworld: Blood Wars has the familiar slow-mo combat in a blue tinged world that has gone on well passed its “Best Before Date” and Kate Beckinsale spends much of the time looking as bored as I felt. Originally this movie was going to reboot the series, and not star Beckinsale, but instead she returned and producer Len Wiseman is threatening more bland stories starring his super-hot ex-wife. This year we saw the end of Resident Evil franchise (we hope) with Resident Evil: The Final Chapter if only Sony Pictures could retire this one as well.


Selene will return in "Underworld: The Boredom Wars"

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