How is this franchise still going after all these years?! When this all kicked off in 2003, the first Underworld movie had an intriguing concept behind it even though the execution was somewhat dull as a result. The second movie, Evolution, did improve slightly by expending upon the origins of the vampires and lycans, while the prequel, Rise of the Lycans, proved to be a solid war movie. Then we had Awakening, the fourth movie, which like the first film, had a great concept driving it, but the end result was severely lacking, and now with Blood Wars, we have what is quite possibly the worst entry in the franchise to date.
This feels very much like a filler movie with a plot that is nonsensical and all over the place and characters that are shifting loyalties left and right with no clear motivation as to why. It almost bordered on the lines of becoming a video game movie, and not in a good way. In truth the execution of every single aspect involved is flat and does nothing to improve or evolve the franchise in any clear way. Michael Corvin is mentioned and gets bumped off while the daughter is frequently referenced in a bid to make her some glorified plot device to increase tension but is nowhere to be seen except at the very end, thanks to some hokey CGI.
To be fair, the gothic surroundings are creatively inventive and atmospheric for a while and the idea of a Nordic coven of vampires is a fascinating concept, even though it feels as though it was ripped straight out of Game of Thrones, especially when all the coven look like the offspring of Khaleesi Targaryen. The CGI is horrible and looks worse when compared to the first movie (and that was 2003!), especially the horrendous man-wolf effects on poor Tobias Menzies. Even the action is lame in execution with a lot of jump-cutting and ridiculous wire-fu, which makes the lame action choreography in Assassin's Creed look like John Wick in comparison.
As far as the cast goes, none of them have anything great to work with and are all just left floundering around looking mean and moody. Kate Beckinsale was absolutely phenomenal in last year's Love and Friendship as it completely displayed her acting range, whereas here, she's trapped in an emotionless blank slate, despite the fact she still looks amazing in the tight black leather outfit after all these years. Divergent's Theo James feels awkward in his role as the rightful heir to the vampire throne, Charles Dance is there to pick up his overdue cheque, and Tobias Menzies looks bored out of his brain as one of the main villains of the film. Lara Pulver is somewhat interesting as the other main villain of the movie, even though her character is basically a vampire-coated, rip-off from her Sherlock character, right down to her being a dominatrix with one particular scene of sexual dominance coming across as being more awkwardly corny than stimulating.
Perhaps it's finally time to close the door on this franchise that was long past its sell-by-date; the core concept makes zero sense, is executed poorly, insulting to its own mythology and to make matters worse, they try to sequel-bait a sixth movie that will probably never happen (fingers crossed!). Granted it's not as abominable as Resident Evil: The Final Chapter or Fifty Shades Darker, but nevertheless, Underworld: Blood Wars comes across more as a major step backward than a step forward.
UNDERWORLD: BLOOD WARS / CERT: 15 / DIRECTOR: ANNA FOERSTER / SCREENPLAY: CORY GOODMAN / STARRING: KATE BECKINSALE, THEO JAMES, LARA PULVER, CHARLES DANCE / RELEASE DATE: 29TH MAY