Thanks to Sony Pictures Australia, we had the chance to see ‘Underworld: Blood Wars’ before its national release. This is our review of the movie, but as usual, no matter what we say, we still recommend you to go and see it at your local cinema because there is no better critic than yourself!
Vampires, werewolves, war, cool CGI! All these elements are the perfect cocktail for an action horror film! Or so I thought… Underworld: Blood Wars is the fifth instalment in the Underworld series which stars Kate Beckinsale as Selene a vampire “Death Dealer”. The series focus on the centuries long war between Vampires and Lycans (werewolves). Blood Wars follows Selene, an outcast of her coven due to hiding her hybrid daughter from Vampires and Lycans alike. After reluctantly returning to to her coven in order to train young pupils for the upcoming Lycan attack she is surrounded by deception and dis-order. As Selene’s coven is led by Semira, a Lady Macbeth like character whose greed and lust for power blinds her from the true threat of the Lycans. Perhaps the Lycans and Vampires aren’t so different after all?
For people who haven’t seen the previous films, rest assured, the first two minutes provided a montage of clips from the previous Underworlds giving sufficient context for the film. As a film, Underworld: Blood Wars is successful in immersing the audience in a different world. The director’s stylistic choices, through the films use of dark tones and orchestral music creates an operatic and richly gothic environment. In the action sequences, the manipulation of fast cuts and slow motion creates a stylized and entertaining action style which is unique to the Underworld series. Due to these choices, as an audience member one does feel transported into a different time and place.
Blood Wars inability to create a fast paced, tension driven film is ultimately its downfall. It relies on a simplistic story, action scenes, predictable twists and two dimensional characters to sustain the film. The main problem is that it lacks a sense of pace and urgency. The film is building for an upcoming war against the Vampires and Lycans which is a major anti-climax as this has been the same plot for the past four films. Further, the new Lycan leader Marius’s lust for Selene and her daughter’s blood, is the main plot of the previous film. Just change a few names and places around. There is no build up of tension or even a sense of fear from the vampires as the Lycans grow stronger and advance on the primary Vampire fortress. The fight scenes have little to no gore and as an audience member I found myself saying “why do I care about this battle?”. Selene has fled from the main Vampire Fortress Coven due to its corruption. Therefore, aside from killing Selene’s parents all the way back in the 2003 Underworld, there is no real indication as to why the Lycans are bad. Or for that matter why as audience members we should feel a deep hatred towards them and root for the vampires in the finale battle. Due to this Blood Wars fails to leave a lasting impression. It only briefly touches on ideas of motherhood, loss and corruption which would have made a more interesting and complex film.
For the avid fan of the Underworld series, Blood Wars is an enjoyable action film, however it lacks the substance to separate it from other generic action flicks.
Underworld: Blood Wars is in cinemas now!