Main cast: Kate Beckinsale (Selene), Theo James (David), Tobias Menzies (Marius), Lara Pulver (Semira), Daisy Head (Alexia), Peter Andersson (Vidar), Clementine Nicholson (Lena), Bradley James (Varga), and Charles Dance (Thomas)
Director: Anna Foerster
Underworld: Blood Wars is the fifth installment in the Underworld series, but it’s the first to actually, truly ooze direct-to-video vibes. The last one was skirting the edge, but this one takes one step closer towards Uwe Boll territory. Okay, maybe that’s a hyperbole – for now – but really, this one is bad in a way that is neither charming or campy.
This one also ditches all the elements it set up in the previous movie. Maybe it’s due to budget, I don’t know, as continuing the whole purge saga may require scenes that cost a lot of money to produce. At any rate, since the last movie, things have happened offscreen. Selene parted ways with her daughter, Eve, as they are both hunted by the lycans for their special magical blood, and Selene believes that it is better for her not to even know where Eve is – so that the enemies cannot torture the information out of her or her blood (vampires can glean visions from the brain of another vampire by tasting the blood of the latter). So no humans here – we are back to the old vampires versus werewolves territory.
Incidentally, this one is best watched after watching at the very least Underworld: Awakening, the previous movie, because the story brings back a few characters with established relationships and back stories, and the movie doesn’t do much of a good job fleshing them out to new viewers.
This time around, the vampires are losing. The werewolves have banded under the leadership of one Marius, and together, they have decimated a number of vampire covens already. Those left are still clinging on their stubborn pride and the belief that they will never be defeated – even if evidence suggests otherwise. Semira, an ambitious vampire sidelined from power when Selene was still part of the coven, convinces the Elder Thomas to persuade the others that they need to extend Selene an invitation to come back and help them train a new generation of Death Dealers (elite werewolf-killers of which Selene is apparently the last one remaining).
Meanwhile, Selene is cold and dispassionate, on the loose and doing whatever she wants because she feels that she has no reason to live anymore. Her Michael is gone, and now her daughter is gone from her life too. When David catches with up with her, he sustains an injury that she has to tend to. As it happens, the bullet that hits David contains a tracking device, leading Marius to send his pack to go catch Selene. He wants Eve’s blood, you see, and he believes that Selene knows where that girl is. At the same time, the vampire team led by Eliza catches up with Selene and David first, and our two leads decide to go see what the old farts want. Oh, and David is Thomas’s son, although those two are not close.
As it turns out, Semira has a plan of her own, and Selene gets captured in such a laughable manner by her and her lover/assistant Varga, because Semira believes that drinking Selene’s blood would upgrade her powers and allow her to become the boss of all vampires. Coincidentally enough, David and Thomas discover Selene all trussed up, and Thomas dies while trying to stall Semira as the other two escape to some coven in the snowy north. Are we still on Earth, by the way? I don’t think even the people behind this film remember anymore, as Selene and Thomas soon find their way to some woo-woo coven where women all wear skimpy white rags even in the cold as they commune with some secret other world while bathing in magic waters. Don’t ask.
As it happens – there is a lot of “as it happens” and “coincidentally” in this plot, so just deal with it or we’d be here all day – Eliza and Marius are lovers too, and Eliza tells Marius that Selene and David have fled to the hippie dipstick vampire coven. And so they go. Selene once again gets trashed by Marius – she gets trashed a lot in this movie, by the way, making her one of the most worthless action heroines ever – and is almost dead, until she gets dunked in the magic water only to come back with SUPER SAIYAN STEALTH TELEPORT POWER… only to gets trashed by Marius again bad anyway, until she realizes that Marius is responsible for a dire thing – Marius killed Michael – so she gets super mad and finally gets her sole victory in this movie. Tragic.
The movie wants to push David as a plausible action hero, but alas, Theo James lacks the charisma and gravitas to pull off that role. Poor David never rises beyond a one-dimensional emo pipsqueak with abandonment issues. Semira could have been a compelling femme fatale anti-heroine if the movie had been better scripted and given her a meatier role in the whole scheme of things. Marius is quite an embarrassing villain, especially when his entire plan is a waste of time. I mean, his big plan is to wait until he gets to drink Eve’s blood to upgrade his powers, so that he can finally storm the coven, but in the end, he has Eliza hack the security system to let himself and his people in to start puncturing the walls with holes and letting the sunlight fry the vampires. So, he doesn’t need Eve’s blood at all, so why was he waiting all this time for? If he had done this earlier, Selene and David – both can walk in sunlight due to that ever convenient magic blood plot device – wouldn’t be there and he would have actually won. Idiot.
Anyway, Underworld: Blood Wars is a thinly plotted story with many short cuts taken to ensure that Selene and David will win. Super powers show up at the most convenient moments, always in an unexplained manner, to ensure a last minute victory and, worst of all, Selene is a complete flop of an action heroine as she keeps getting trashed and needing to be rescued all the way to the penultimate moment. And her image is on the poster! She is supposed to be the lead character! What a joke.
Don’t bother catching this one in the theater – just wait to rent or stream it when there is nothing better to do.