Saturday, January 14, 2017

Movie Review #550: "Underworld: Blood Wars" (2017)

Director: Anna Foerster
Rating: R
Running Time: 1 hour, 31 minutes
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The lycans are hunting Selene (Kate Beckinsale) in the hopes of finding her daughter Eve, who has been hidden somewhere unknown. Marius (Tobias Menzies), the new lycan leader with a super organized army, knows Eve's blood will give them the advantage they need to finally win the war against the vampires.

"Underworld: Blood Wars" is the fifth installment in the "Underworld" franchise. It is directed by Anna Foerster, who is the first woman to direct an "Underworld" film. This is also the first feature film she has directed as she previously only worked on TV projects. The film is written by Kyle Ward, who previously worked on "Machete Kills," and Cory Goodman, who wrote "The Last Witch Hunter." Kate Beckinsale returns as former Death Dealer Selene, who is now on the run from both vampires and lycans. She is sought by the vampires because she killed two of their elders, and the lycans want her because they want to find her daughter Eve, the first naturally born hybrid, for her blood. Also returning to reprise their roles are Theo James and Charles Dance, who play David and his father Thomas. Also in the film are Laura Pulver, the power-hungry, war-mongering vampire Semira, and Tobias Menzies as Marius, the leader of a massive, highly organized Lycan army.

Going back and watching all the "Underworld" films, one thing we've noticed is this series is terrible at setting up its sequels. Really, this series has a terribly disjointed narrative since movie #1. The writers constantly rewrite the past in an effort to create new twists by writing off previous knowledge as a lie. They also build characters to supposedly do amazing things that never wind up happening. In the past, the franchise spent two movies building up the character of Michael, the hybrid lycan/vampire played by Scott Speedman, only to completely minimize his role by the fourth movie and by totally writing him out come "Blood Wars." They spent all of "Awakening" building up the character of Eve and her probable immense power, only to use her as a reference point in this installment. Meanwhile, Selene is the one who constantly gets stronger and stronger each film, at one point gaining super-bleached hair tips which come with nice perks beyond an edgy hairstyle. They do the whole build-up/let down shtick again in this film towards a specific object that must be retrieved by the end of the film. It is mentioned as an amazing wielding of power that causes its enemies to cower in fear at the mere sight of it, but is never used in such a way and becomes completely insignificant to the plot by movie's end. The CGI, though somewhat improved????? (others may argue this is true), is still rough at times, especially on the character of Marius when he does his odd transformation thing. The use of CGI is in overdrive here as almost all of the practical effects have now fallen by the wayside in favor of computer generated graphics, no matter how bad they look.

Honestly, we know people don't go see the "Underworld" movies for their deep plots. They go to see Kate Beckinsale and others run, jump, flip, and fight around in leather outfits with big guns and other cool weaponry. That's what you'll get in "Underworld: Blood Wars." Despite all its faults, this movie still winds up having some semi-good, mostly tolerable moments of ultraviolent bloody action and that is probably all fans of the series crave to see. We wouldn't hate it if there were never a sixth movie, though we know if this one makes enough, our asses will be back in the theater come 2-4 years for the inevitable "Underworld: The Final Chapter." The series is not improving as a whole over time.

My Rating: 4.5/10
BigJ's Rating: 5/10
IMDB's Rating: 6.4/10
Rotten Tomatoes Rating: 19%
Do we recommend this movie: Meh.

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