Review – Underworld: Blood Wars

I’m not ashamed to admit that I’m a big fan of the Underworld series.  I liked the first film, especially, but I appreciate the depth of the mythology and I love Kate Beckinsale’s Selene.  I even read a novel set in the Underworld universe that ended up being adapted into 2009’s Rise of the Lycans.  So, this is a cool film with which to kick off 2017 as I’ve been looking forward to another chapter in the saga for quite a while.

The film picks up where Awakening left off and gives a quick and handy recap in case the audience needs catching up.  As usual, I’m not going to get into the particulars of the narrative but it should suffice to say that it’s full of twists and turns that I didn’t see coming.  One of the nice things about the series is that it’s constantly moving forward.  There’s never an end-of-film reset that leaves the story and characters where they were at the outset and Blood Wars is no exception.  At the same time, the aforementioned mythology is never ignored and always plays an important role in the current proceedings. So, what we’re getting from this is individual chapters that work together to form one larger story.  That’s not easy to accomplish and I credit the filmmakers for making their own jobs more difficult just so we, the audience, can have a significantly more rewarding experience – especially for those who keep track of all of the moving parts in that world.

The characters are fun and interesting, new and old, alike.  Selene is still wickedly ferocious and, this time, faces an equally tenacious adversary in the lycan Marius (Tobias Menzies).  Their battles are hard-hitting and brutal while also being creatively choreographed so that they feel fresh.  Being the fifth film in the series, I’m impressed that I never feel like the films are just playing it safe and retreading ground, whether it be with regards to the story or the action set pieces.

There are little things I could pick at, but they had no effect on my enjoyment of the film, so I see no need to do that.  They aren’t the aspects that matter the most.  I will say that I suspect that the original story idea was . . . not “abandoned”, but rather put on hold in favor of this one.  I don’t know that for sure; I’m just speculating based on what I saw.  If so, that’s no big deal, creativity speaking.  But if Blood Wars doesn’t perform well enough at the box office to warrant a sixth installment, some plot lines would remain forever unresolved, which would be a shame after so many years of establishing such a fun universe.

So, if you’re a fan of the series, that means it’s important to get out there and support Blood Wars.  If you’ve enjoyed the previous films, you’ll enjoy this one.  There will always be a contingency of people who consider themselves too good for Underworld.  You know them.  They sigh at the trailers for each new chapter.  They wonder aloud who’s still seeing them.  They declare their loathing and then pretend that either no one disagrees with them or that anyone who does is an idiot.  Those people won’t be converted by Blood Wars.  What people need to understand, however, is that the goal of this series is to be fun and entertaining (and to keep rehabilitating the vampire image in the wake of the Twilight series).  Nobody is shooting for awards.  These aren’t intended to be thought-provoking life changers.  They’re just crazy fun.  So, it’s up to the fans to get out there and keep the franchise going.  Because, speaking for myself, I definitely want to see where the story goes, next!

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