Kate Beckinsale (Total Recall) returns as vampire assassin Selene in yet another Underworld Y-A action-horror-snoozefest. It wants to re-invent itself from Blade via Resident Evil to Game of Thrones, but really…?
The cast is an almost all-British affair in the ongoing war between vampires, other vampires, some more vampires and a bunch of scruffy hairy blokes – the werewolf Lycans – with everyone looking for the Corvinus line’s magic blood of invincibility to top the arms race and deliver victory.
With an underwhelming script rehashing more or less everything we’ve seen in the previous four, with added mystical vampire codswallop linking repetitive sword fights and gunplay, it’s hard to get excited about anything but Beckinsale’s buffed leather catsuit and corset.
Bradley James (Fast Girls, Merlin) still looks bored with acting, even whilst playing against type as vampire villain Varga (too much alliteration sorry, got to inject some excitement here somewhere). Charles Dance (Dracula Untold, GoT) does the Charles Dance thing breifly; Theo James brings his Divergent face and action moves to sideline Selene in her own franchise as the new vampire messiah; Lara Pulver (Spooks and TV’s Sherlock) is a classy but predictable evil vampire queen. Versatile TV bad guy Tobias Menzies (Casino Royale, Outlander) pitches up as the new head werewolf, Marius.
Other than the addition of a medieval quest to find an elusive coven of white vampires in the frozen North of Underworld’s unspecified middle-European near-future setting, it’s pretty much business as usual; Dracula meets X-men in a joyless, fun-less, live-action Manga, which, for all it’s fight sequences, martial arts, gun toys, swords and protentous dialogue is oddly inert.
Yes, Underworld respects its’ source material and has continuity with the entire series (with the flashbacks to prove it); that doesnt mean it makes any sense. The vampires are supposedly the good guys in this; ahem, have we forgotten – blood-sucking night-dwellers? Evidently yes. I fail to see why we’re cheering for any of this lot? Assassin Selene remains quite remote, despite getting all angsty about recent motherhood.
It’s so wrapped up in vampires versus werewolves, there’s no real world for them to exist in; the vampires are at each other like GoT; the werewolves are standard 2-D monster-fodder (just more of them); the white vampires are like mystical dark elves and I decided ten minutes in that I really don’t care about any of them.
Strictly one for the Underworld, Beckinsale and Theo James fans, Blood Wars does what it does efficiently enough under first-feature TV director Anna Foerster’s (Outlander) tenure, without setting the screen alight. RC
Underworld: Blood Wars (2016)
Director: Anna Foerster
Writer: Cory Goodman
Genre: Action & Adventure, Horror, Science Fiction & Fantasy
Running time: 91 minutes
Cast: Kate Beckinsale, Theo James, Lara Pulver, Charles Dance, Bradley James, Tobias Menzies