Underworld: Blood Wars: Film Review
Cast: Kate Beckinsale, Theo James, Lara Pulver, Charles Dance
Director: Anna Foerster
The fifth Underworld film appears on the cinematic horizon four years after Underworld: Awakening rebooted a portion of the franchise.
This time around, Kate Beckinsale returns as Vamp death dealer Selene, all clad in black leather and ready to kick some ass as the ongoing war between the vampires and the lycans continues.
Having lost all trace of her daughter at the end of Awakening, Selene finds herself hunted by the terrifying new leader of the Lycans, Marius (Tobias Menzies) who wants her daughter's blood, believing it will give the lupine clan the ultimate power to end once and for all the conflict.
Forced to turn to the coven who betrayed her, Selene is once again slap bang in the middle of attacks from all side, political intrigue and betrayal as the fight for eternal life goes on.
War is hell.
And eternal war must therefore, by extension, be eternal hell.
But that would be preferable to the latest Underworld film, an action thriller that barely musters enough action or thrills under its fetish garb to keep you entertained during its 90 minute run time.
The latest film lacks bite and feels anaemic in comparison to other entrants into the franchise, and despite once again rebooting the film (along with a brisk pre-credits introduction which gets everyone up to speed), the fire in its cinematic belly is waning this time.
It's largely due to a lack of clarity, an extremely basic script and vision that's wanting.
Foerster, who's helmed episodes of Outlander and who is the first female director to take on the series, manages to deliver the sparse action with a degree of simplicity of style, but there's not enough action sequences to flesh out the relatively thin bones unfortunately. It largely doesn't help that the supporting characters are relatively non-existent and it's left to James and his ample shirtless six-pack and pouting, as well as Beckinsale's frosty Selene to carry things along, leaving the investment into proceedings severely wanting.
True Blood and Sherlock's Lara Pulver vamps it up in a treacherous duplicitous role, but the wooden dialogue and occasionally ropey C Grade CGI morphing does more to cripple proceedings than you'd expect. In prior films, that's been masked by the action sequences, and their plethora, but Underworld : Blood Wars has scant numbers of them throughout its short run time.
To be fair, there are some nice sequences where the vamps are dispatched by UV bullets, rendering their bodies asunder into ashes, but there's not enough visual flair on show.
Ultimately, Underworld Blood Wars may satiate the lust of the fanbase, but there's a nagging feeling that Beckinsale is cruising through this latest installment and its ham-fisted political shenanigans, thanks to a lacklustre script and threadbare action