Last Friday saw the release of the 5th installment of the Underworld series with Underworld: Blood Wars. Personally, I’m a huge fan of the Underworld series for many reasons. In 2002, when the first Underworld came out, there was quite the drought of strong female leads in movies. But Underworld gave the movie world a big old middle finger and cast Kate Beckinsale as its lead, Selene.
A lot of people have tired of Underworld‘s formulaic presentation, but I can’t get enough of its high action, high intensity cinematics and storyline. And it’s great to see all of it back in full swing in Blood Wars.
The name pretty much says it all. Blood Wars picks up at a tumultuous time – the lycans have joined together under the leadership of Marius (Tobias Menzies), a newcomer to the franchise, and the vampires of the world are left with nowhere to run except for the two remaining covens, the northern (which we just now are learning about), and the eastern.
The only way for either group to survive and push through this war torn time is to find Selene’s daughter, Eve, and use her blood to do… something? The motivation for finding her is left quite unclear, but judging by what happens to Marius and Semira when they drink Michael and Selene’s blood respectively, it’s easy to see that getting their hands on Eve’s blood would mean a new age for vampires and lycans alike.
Semira, the leader of the eastern coven, takes it upon herself to bring Selene back from exile, hoping to use her to train the newest batch of death dealers to take on the lycans. This, of course, works out perfectly until she goes bat-shit insane and begins killing everyone around her, including the vampire high council.
Typical Underworld action emanates throughout the entire movie. Hardcore action scenes, quick, and I mean quick cuts with seemingly no concern for continuity, and ridiculous tropes are all over this film, but that’s what makes the Underworld series so great. It takes itself so seriously and the action is so good that you can’t help but be reeled in.
The cinematics are more of the same. The dreary scenery, darkness, and rain are all present throughout Blood Wars. That is, until we finally meet the northern coven. It’s not a surprise we haven’t heard of them before. The first time they’re introduced, they’re referred to as the ‘pacifist’ vampires, weak and feeble. When we finally do meet them, we find out they’re anything but.
This is actually one of the coolest sects of vampires to be introduced in the whole series, I think. Calm, cool (literally), and collected, the northern coven’s inhabitants just kind of chill up in Norway at the top of a giant cliff surrounded by a frozen lake. They also have… I guess… mummy-god-spider powers? They can send people into the spirit world and bring them back, but only if they get wrapped up and hung upside down? This is another great example of Underworld just doing what it wants with no regard for explanation, but it works really well and makes for a great addition to the series, not to mention some super cool action sequences.
Now that I’ve talked about the good in Blood Wars, let’s get to the bad.
Once again, the supremely quick cuts during action sequences make this movie a no-go for anyone who has epilepsy. Seriously. I was getting motion sick just watching it. I can only imagine what would happen if you had health problems. This issue of cutting 8,000,000 times during one action shot has been pretty big in the last three movies, not so much Awakening due to it being in 3D, but please, let’s stop doing this. Thanks.
There was also a lot of cheese in Blood Wars. Some of it was normal action movie tropes rearing their head into the mix, but this was some of the stinkiest cheese I’ve seen in a while. Here’s two of my favorites.
- Toward the end, when David and Marius go head to head in the foyer, they straight up shoot each other for a solid 15 seconds. Now, I can dig this. The director’s trying to show off how strong they’ve both become, how much they can take. But they just scream and shoot at each other while walking up and down stairs for a solid 15 seconds. This scene mixed in with the super quick cuts was ridiculous. And extremely hilarious.
- “Hey guys, what do you think the best way to show the audience that Selene is a new character and she’s made some sort of transformation?” ‘… Give her blonde tips and a white coat?’ “Genius.”
Another staple of the Underworld series is forgetting anything and everything that’s happened in previous movies. In Blood Wars, we find out that just by ingesting another vampire’s blood, you apparently get super powers. This has never happened before. Memories, sure. You drink their blood, you get their memories. I get that concept and I really enjoy it as a plot device.
But never before in any Underworld movie have powers been transferred just by drinking someone’s blood. And A) that’s pretty much what the entire movie’s plot line revolves around, and B) it happens twice in Blood Wars. I don’t like this. If this was the case, then Viktor would’ve been much harder to kill. So would Marcus. This is stupid. But it worked. So whatever.
But really, I got through all this without losing any respect for the rest of the film. If anything, Blood Wars was too short. When the credits started to roll, I was actually quite sad. I wanted to know what was going to happen next. I wanted to know what they were going to do and how it was going to play out in the end. I can’t say the same for a lot of movies I’ve seen recently. Blood Wars had me on the edge of my seat the entire hour and a half, and I can’t wait for Resident Evil to do the same later this month. If you’re a fan of the entire Underworld franchise, definitely go see this movie. You won’t be disappointed.
Reed’s Review Corner
Underworld: Blood Wars
8.6 black trench coats out of 10
Vampires continue to kick ass and take names.
Fantastic fight scenes.
Complete disregard for continuity with itself and other films.