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[Review] ‘Underworld: Blood Wars’ Is a Marginal Improvement Over Its Predecessor

If one searches for the definition of a guilty pleasure, the first Underworld film is undeniably one of the best examples of the term. However, while the franchise has never been known for its nuanced storytelling or memorable characters (other than Selene, of course), the stylish action and groundbreaking practical effects seemed to dwindle in quality over the years. 2012’s Underworld: Awakening was particularly bitter evidence of this, with its over-abundant CGI and extremely convoluted plot. Naturally, this left many fans skeptical of Blood Wars, Anna Foerster’s attempt at returning the franchise to its roots.

Once again starring Kate Beckinsale as the lycan-slaying Selene, Underworld: Blood Wars chronicles her attempts to end the prolonged war between lycans and vampires, as the escalating conflict threatens her concealed daughter’s life. When a new, brutal lycan leader emerges in the form of Marius, played by Tobias Menzies, the vampires are forced to plead for Selene’s help, though she is unaware of the deadly political schemes concocted by the ambitious vampire Semira, played by Lara Pulver.

The Underworld Franchise obviously hasn’t been able to shake its love for convoluted politics and inexplicable love triangles, but at the very least Blood Wars is a marginal improvement over its predecessor in almost ever way. The boring human/sci-fi elements of the previous film are largely ignored in favor of the vampire-lycan war, and the action feels much more grounded with incredible wire-fu and stunt-work, not to mention a return to practical werewolf effects in a few scenes!

Sadly, competent action isn’t enough to justify a movie’s existence, and Blood Wars has more than its fair share of flaws. With the exception of the more experienced actors like Beckinsale, Charles Dance, Tobias Menzies and Lara Pulver, some of the performances in this film can be downright laughable. While these dubious moments are usually reserved for minor characters, it can still get very distracting. Nevertheless, Theo James’ return as Selene’s ally, David, was a surprisingly entertaining addition to the film, as the script managed to turn him into a likable and interesting King Arthur-esque character.

One of the best aspects of the film is its exploration of a previously unseen chapter of vampire mythology, as the ensuing conflict leads Selene to the residence of a mythic clan of Nordic vampires. The differences in style and culture kept Blood Wars from feeling too familiar, and provided us with some interesting set-pieces in a snowy environment. That being said, I wasn’t a fan of Selene’s newfound Nordic powers, as these movies are usually at their best when the action is kept grounded and believable. It’s hard to feel that a character is in any real danger when they have the means to magically resolve any kind of conflict.

Overall, Underworld: Blood Wars isn’t quite the sequel that we deserve, but it does take a few much-needed steps in the right direction. Foerster’s film actually manages to provide our main character with some form of closure, and though we know that future Underworld films are inevitable, that’s still a commendable feat. Either way, this is one franchise that has never really been preoccupied with anything other than action, so for some, Blood Wars can be deemed a success. That being said, if you like your shoot’em up set pieces and sword fights served with a side order of believable characters and a memorable story, I’d suggest looking elsewhere.

Underworld: Blood Wars will be available in theaters everywhere January, 6th!



COMMENTS

16 Comments
  • RedNeoCon

    The Underworld films just need to die already. The plot, characters, and SFX are no better than Sci-Fi channel fodder. How these keep getting made is beyond me.

    • J Jett

      um, because some of us enjoy these films.

      • GunsOfNavarone

        I enjoyed 1,2 and even 3… but 4 I did not enjoy. Hopefully this one may be different.

  • Omar Ramos

    Just seen Underworld Blood Wars and just like the others it’s pure fun.Full of action. You know what u are getting when u see these films. Bring on the next installment.

  • I agree it is an improvement over it’s predecessor but that is because the predecessors itself weren’t any good. personally, i think they should have stopped after the first underworld movie.

  • What is the new ‘power or ability’ Selene gains?

    • J Jett

      Borgman, as seen in the trailers, she can move (sort of teleport….kind of)….well she can do this now….(what the blonde vampire Lena does)

  • GunsOfNavarone

    This is the review I was looking for, a review that lets you know how it stands up against Awakening which I thought was terrible. So thanks for that.

  • REC03

    well…….her hair looks nice!

  • LowHangersMcGeeserialteabagger

    Thought this was going to be a major snorefest (not a fan of the franchise to beging with,but I dug the first one and Evolution,while I found Rise of the Lycans and Awakening to be a total bore).Saw this one today out of curiosity and I have no regrets,it wasn’t bad at all,nothing I’d watch twice,though,it just does what a decent popcorn flick is meant to do,entertain.

  • Richard Wagner

    I loved it…I will be going to watch it a couple more times (with different people).

    • umaneo

      I enjoyed it, Costumes are awesome.

  • Härra Pärnits

    Dumb, predictable garbage with models for actors. Bad dialogue, a real B-movie franchise.

  • chainsaw autotune

    for me nothing can top viktor’s [bill nighy’s character] death scene in the first film.
    i was hoping in the sequels he would be back with the top of his head still missing. the other vampires would have to talk to his “good” “high” side.

    • Dr. Decker

      and in each sequel the slant would always be in a different direction. even better, change it with every scene.

  • D淡定D

    Somehow, this title reminds of Birdman. “Margin.. Maginal, are you kidding me? Sounds like you need penicilin to clear that up. That’s a label too. These are just all labels. You just label everything. It’s so fucking lazy. You’re a lazy fucker. You’re a laz… You know what this is [picks up flower]?. Do you even know what that is? You don’t. You know why? Because you can’t see this thing if you don’t know how to label it. You mistake all those little noises in your head for true knowledge…. There’s nothing in here about technique. There’s nothing in here about structure. Nothing here about intention. It’s just a bunch of crappy opinions backed up by even crappier comparisons. You write a couple of paragraphs. And you know what? None of this cost you fuckign anything. You risk nothing. Nothing, nothing, nothing.”

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