HOLLYWOOD—I have never fully been a fan of the “Underworld” movies. While I love a good vampire flick, I just couldn’t find myself too immersed in the narrative. The last time we saw the character Selene (Kate Beckinsale) was in 2012’s “Underworld: Awakening” which saw the return of Beckinsale to the role she made famous in the early 2000s. That film was mediocre in my personal opinion, so I walked into the theater with low standards for the fifth outing, “Underworld: Blood Wars.”
Some of you might be attempting to wrap your head around the title, which I think is quite silly to say the least, but blood is indeed the root of most of the madness in this bloody franchise. I get asked the question all the time if you need to see previous installments in a franchise to have an idea of where the narrative is this time around. The answer is: YES. If you haven’t seen any of the “Underworld” flicks you might be a bit lost as to what is transpiring in this chapter, especially when you factor in this ongoing battle between the vampires and the Lycans (werewolves).
This time around Selene is doing her best to live a life in solitude after bidding farewell to her daughter for her own safety, as her blood is highly sought after Marius (Tobias Menzies). Marius is a worthy adversary for our hero, which is a narrative point that I enjoyed seeing unfold in the multiplex. His ability to outwit the vampires and toy with Selene’s emotions was fun to watch. He isn’t the only villain in this chapter, as Semira (Lara Pulver), is thirsty for power and vengeance against Selene for killing her former lover. It’s always a treat to see a great villainess in a movie. Is the performance Oscar-caliber, no, but it’s entertaining.
The element audiences should understand is that SELENE is the key to everything. The vampires are being wiped out by the Lycans. Selene could be the savior for the remaining vampire covens, and at the same time her daughter Eve’s blood is key to developing hybrids that would be unstoppable.
Theo James does suitable work as David, a hybrid who becomes Selene’s ally in the fight against the Lycans and vampires. One must also acknowledge the appearance of actor Charles Dance, as Thomas, a vampire Elder and David’s father. The biggest problem with this fifth chapter is that it starts WAY TOO SLOW. The narrative takes a good 35-40 minutes to really kick into gear, and for an audience that can be too long at times. Director Anna Forester does the best with the script presented to her. Having the movie open with a fun fight sequence is good, but as a viewer you want to know what is transpiring and to some degree what is the end game. That is not known right away which can be slightly frustrating if you ask me.
Note: the film is quite dark most of the time, which makes it problematic to see what is transpiring. I get that vampires can’t come out during the daytime, but as a viewer the lighting should have been perfected to ensure it was possible to see what was transpiring at times. Do not waste your time seeing this movie in 3D, there is nothing eye-popping or for that matter visually epic that you need to spend that extra $3 to $4 for those glasses.
While “Underworld: Blood Wars” has its flaws, once the action and narrative kicks into gear the film does a successful job of entertaining the audience and proving yet again why Kate Beckinsale is one badass when it comes to portraying a butt-kicking vampire on the big screen.