'Underworld: Blood Wars' Will Render Viewers Lifeless
By Devvon Eubanks
Mythical creatures have long been a source of mystery and wonder to us. Are any of these mythical bedtime stories or tales of the occult true? Do these creatures really exist? Bigfoot. Aliens. Werewolves. Demons. Zombies. Throughout the history of film, many stories reference these creatures and try to show us a kind of cinema we haven't seen before. However, it is the vampire that has become one of the main foci of film over the past several decades. Whether viewers have fallen in love with Edward Cullen in 2011’s “Twilight,” or journeyed alongside the skilled anti-hero “Blade” in his respective 1998 film, vampires have consistently been a staple in the film industry. Specifically, the 2003 film series “Underworld” has shown these creatures at war with the lycans (i.e. werewolves), and comes complete with solid gunplay, supernatural feats of strength and speed, and a generational story that emphasizes the importance of family and clan. But after four films, we've come to a new chapter in “Underworld: Blood Wars.” Does this new film give a fresh take on the formula of fangs and fighting, or is this just business as usual?
After the deaths of coven leaders Viktor and Marcus, the vampires are on the verge of defeat at the hands of Marius (Tobias Menzies) and his lycan horde. To combat this threat and have a chance of survival, the elders of the Eastern Coven decide to enlist the aid of Selene (Kate Beckinsale), the vampire Death Dealer who was once a part of their family, but killed the previous leaders and was exiled. However, there is a secret plot brewing in the coven and the location of Selene’s daughter might be the key to winning the war. Ultimately, Selene will have to decide if blood is more important than her clan in this new conflict.
In general, the cinematography and plot of “Blood Wars” is not much of a departure from previous films. In fact, there actually seems to be less overall action than normal. There is a nice recap at the beginning of the film, showing what's happened in the story and how far Selene’s journey has come, but series followers will be able to understand more of what's happening than newcomers. However, even with a brisk pace, the story is not particularly riveting. What made a few of these past films unique were the fast-paced fighting sequences, the familial relations of the vampire clans, and viewing the war at a larger scale. Sadly, since these things have been done so much already, the experienced viewer isn’t being shown anything fresh or interesting. There's just an advancement of the overall plot, and that’s it. Even the film's few twists aren’t captivating or memorable. Furthermore, in comparison to other modern, higher-end action films, even the new viewer won’t be able to take away much. It's just business as usual, except less of it this time.
The characters don’t have a lot of development either. Kate Beckinsale is known for her role as Selene, so she does her part just as well as she has before. Kate’s on-screen partner Theo James also reprises his role as David from 2013’s “Underworld: Awakening,” continuing their partnership with decent action and dialogue. Tobias Menzies as Marius, the new leader of the lycans, is somewhat refreshing as the main villain, but he’s not a complex character overall. Marius only seeks greater power through Selene’s daughter to ultimately lead the lycans to victory. However, the few fight scenes between him and Beckinsale are certainly the main highlight of the film. Outside of these individuals, there are no alternate roles that will capture viewers. No human characters are present in this film and there are no characters that provide outstanding commentary or acting ability. At the end of the day, Lakeshore Entertainment just plays it safe with what has worked before and sets up an entry to the next film in the process. The result is the vampires are more like enhanced humans than supernatural beings. Past films gave viewers quite a bit in terms of story and action, but in this season of superheroes and spectacular creatures, these vampires just suck the amusement out of viewers.