CINEMA RELEASE: UNDERWORLD: BLOOD WARS
Director: Anna Foerster
Cast: Kate Beckinsale, Theo James, Laura Pulver, Charles Dance, Tobias Menzies
Classification: MA15+ (Strong Violence, Blood and Gore)
Review by Peter Gray
“I can’t bear any more”…
…and in that one utterance of dialogue ‘Underworld: Blood Wars’ summarizes itself perfectly. Whilst the vampire-heavy series has never been a winner in the critical circles, the four films that have been released thus far have amassed nearly $500 million worldwide between them, and we all know that commercial success tends to outweigh the critical, which would explain why entrant number five – ‘Blood Wars’ – is being thrust upon us with little-to-no reasoning or demand.
Despite multiple films dedicated to Kate Beckinsale’s black leather-clad vampire warrior Selene, you’d be forgiven for assuming her plight tends to maintain a sense of repetition as her dedication to destroying those responsible for the deaths of her loved ones is a constant throughout the films. And it would seem ‘Blood Wars’ is keeping with tradition even though it tries to masquerade itself as a film with a bolder vision.
If the ‘Twilight’ series embraced a more adult-skewered rating you’d have a sense of how ‘Blood Wars’ presents itself. There’s an alarming campiness and inexplicable lethargy that laces much of what transpires on screen, and in this regard it makes for a highly amusing production but I can only assume this was not the vibe director Anna Foerster (making her feature film debut) or screenwriter Cory Goodman were going for. Given that the predominant colour in the ‘Underworld’ universe has always been a sheen of black, ‘Blood Wars’ makes it all the more apparent that this dark pallet equals evil as the villainous vampiric clan – led by a scene-chewing Laura Pulver (an actress who resembles Jodie Foster in appearance and Eva Green in delivery but can’t hold a candle to either) – swan about in various black leather creations as they gear up for a suitably bloody battle with their Nordic brethren, an angelic society (at least by comparison) who are all white lace and blonde hair.
As we anticipate bloody showdowns and Beckinsale’s sleek frame taking out hordes of men twice her size, ‘Blood Wars’ occasionally throws a plot point or two our way so we know it’s all leading towards something; in this case Pulver’s wannabe-seductress Samira and Tobias Menzies’ leader Marius are out for Selene’s pure-breed hybrid daughter Eve, who came to fruition as somewhat of a surprise in the previous instalment, 2012’s ‘Awakening’. Ultimately the story plays second fiddle to the overblown nonsense this film delights in showcasing, a showcase that suspiciously sidelines Beckinsale for a decent time frame; perhaps after reaping unanimous praise for her work in ‘Love and Friendship’ she realised she was worth more than sprouting tired dialogue and participating in the type of film where her character’s new found Nordic-assisted super-strength is signified by sporting blonde tips.
I have a soft spot for the ‘Underworld’ films so I don’t want my criticism to come off like someone who can’t appreciate the vibe these films have adopted, as even with all their flaws they have still entertained me on the basic level of being violent gothic-themed action films. ‘Blood Wars’, however entertaining I found it to be, was laughable and felt almost like a parody of itself. These films are a no-brainer, but even in trying to develop something so basic one must have their wits about them which is something ‘Blood Wars’ is severely lacking.
My rating: 2/5