Underworld: Blood Wars (2016) Movie Review

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It’s a new year, and its been 5 years since I saw Underworld Awakening in 3D back in January 2012.  Much has changed, but how much of that change can be said about “Underworld 5”?  Lets find out…also, if you haven’t seen Underworld, Underworld: Evolution, Underworld: Rise Of The Lycans and Underworld: Awakening, then I suggest going away and then coming back…It’s an unwritten rule that I’ve written here.  You can’t have 1 without the rest.

Set once again in the Underworld Universe were Vampires and Werewolves are virus-ridden humans who “evolve” by receiving the blood of someone more powerful, our story sees Kate Beckinsale return in the role of Selene, a Vampire Death-dealer who has since evolved into a Nordic-Enhanced, Vampire-Corvinus Strain Hybrid…in other words, a Vampire who can walk in the sun without dying, and is as immortal as a vampire elder.  She is being pursued by both Lycans and Vampires.  The Lycans, led by Marius (Tobias Menzies), seek her because they want to find her daughter, and use her blood to make them all evolve into more dangerous werewolves (and in the process, wipe out the Vampires).  The Vampires on the other hand, have a mixed seeking of Selene.  Some to put her to death as a traitor, while others want her to build a Vampire Army to defend themselves against the Lycans.  As the last true death-dealer who doesn’t know where her daughter is, Selene has a lot of decisions to make.

Now to break it down

The Acting department obviously sees Kate Beckinsale return, as well as the return of Theo James as David, and Charles Dance as David’s father, Thomas.  Among other cast members include Lara Pulver (Irene Adler in Sherlock), Daisy Head (Anthony Head, aka Giles from Buffy The Vampire Slayer’s daughter), James Faulkner (Pope Sixtus IV in Da Vinci’s Demons), Peter Andersson (Gustaf Boren from Jordskott) and Tobias Menzies (Edmure Tully in Game Of Thrones)..in fact, there are a number of Game Of Thrones actors in this, whether they’re in between seasons or doing this gig afterwards).  Much like the rest of the series, the acting isn’t ground-breaking.  The film series’ reputation as a profitable B-movie franchise could be seen as a reason.  Nobodies’ winning any awards for quality – but at the same time, few, if any, would be eligible for a Razzie Award.  That’s reserved for the next Adam Sandler comedy.  Once again, Kate Beckinsale is the reason you’re watching this.

The Characters, much like in Awakening, are build around Selene for her journey and her development more so than their own.  While motives are mentioned throughout the film, few are actually felt.  David is developed further in this 1, thankfully, and even part of his backstory is explored.  The villains however don’t hold the same weight that Viktor, Markus and Lucian had on screen.  They’re okay – but they’re not in league with them.

The Story maintains a gothic Shakespearian-style narrative (Without actually using Shakespeare as a reference or declaring inspiration), and is once again an example of a jig-saw piece in need of the rest to complete itself. It’s not strong enough to stand on its own, as it relies on the exposition of its predessesors to cover up the potential plot holes or the jumped conclusion of plot holes.  Within context of its bigger picture, the story itself is quite tight.  It’s slower than some previous instalments, and at times may seem boring…hence it’s not a 5-star script.  One thing I do like about this script though?  It explores the film series’ lore even further, adding more to the story, and to Selene’s journey.

The Music was composed by Michael Wandmacher, whose work ranges from B-Movies to international versions of early ’90s Hong Kong flicks, to Madagascar 1 and 2…on the PS2 and Xbox, and the video games Twisted Metal, Singularity, and some of Bloodborne…His work on this film maintains the dark, gothic, techno (at times, Batman-eque) overtones of previous instalments, and stays in character with the series and has some scores that vaguely resemble some key pieces by Paul Haslinger.  This also marks the second time Paul Haslinger hasn’t done the music for an Underworld movie, as his trademark piano scores aren’t present in this instalment, nor were any, including Eternity By Day, recycled.

The Cinematography was by Karl Walter Lindenlaub, who at one point seemed to get some rather memorable movies to his name, including Stargate, Independence Day, The Princess Diaries, Maid In Manhattan, Black Book and The Chronicles Of Narnia: Prince Caspian.  His work here was roughly on par with what you would expect from the franchise.  Full of nice panning shots mixed with some choppy editing in fights and chases.

The Locations are very nicely chosen, with many shots of Prague with some evident but very suitable use of green screen snowscapes and castles.

The CGI and Special Effects are more or less about the same as previous instalments.  It could be accused of not moving with the times and getting better – but that doesn’t mean it’s all bad.  Some of the “vampire dusting” looks particularly impressive in this 1.  The green screen effect, though not perfect, is enough to submerge you into itself.  One thing that can be said though – minus some pretty cool death scenes, the fighting scenes themselves were a 6 or 7 out of 10 at best (Within the context of Ong-Bak, Crouching Tiger Hidden Dragon and Avengers Assemble  being 10).

Would I recommend Underworld: Blood Wars?  Yes…but only if you’re a fan.  If you’re not a fan, and particularly if you haven’t followed the story and known all of the little details and expositions, chances are you will burn his film on a petrol-fuelled barbecue before putting the fire out with much of one’s bodily fluids.  You’ve been warned.

Acting: *** (***3/4 for Kate Beckinsale)

Characters: ***3/4

Story: ***1/2

Music: ***3/4

Cinematography: ****

Locations: ****1/4

CGI/Special Effects: ****1/4

Overall: ***3/4

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