Year: 2016 | Dir: Paul W. S. Anderson | Runtime: 107m
So in the previous Underworld film (Awakening) we advance the story along by the fact that humans have now discovered that both vampires and werewolves are a real thing, and with that, a number of doors open to some interesting antagonists. But Awakening didn’t even fulfill that, instead using the human factor as a catalyst for the events that went down. That’s fine. What’s not so fine is that Blood Wars completely disregards humanity. With this being the fifth entry, I would have hoped that there was a little more focus and foresight into either ending the series or expanding the world beyond the “simple” war between vampires and lycans. With Resident Evil’s fifth entry coming out around the same time (I think it was in the same month as Blood Wars, actually) I can’t help but draw a simple comparison in our protagonists journey: Alice’s (Resident Evil) story starts off with a lot of mystery and is neatly (and I use that word dubiously) explained and wrapped up the literally titled Final Chapter. Selene’s backstory is seemingly explored to its extent within the first two films and diminishes thereafter in each entry. Instead, those later Underworld movies introduce Selene’s daughter and other characters which would presumably carry on the journey, but both father and daughter pull the same disappearing trick in Awakenings and Blood Wars. I wish they would just resolve Selene as a character and allow the universe to move forward, but here we are.
With a bit of negativity out of the way, I actually found myself enjoying Blood Wars. It IS familiar and with that, comes a certain comfort and an allowance to just take in the sights and watch the action unfold. The action again, is decent, with a seemingly amped up level of gore in this film which has me questioning its existence: if you’re set on making an R-rated film, then perhaps put in some R-rated themes and dialog, but we’re left with some simplistic PG-13 drama with added gore to – I guess – make the film a little more edgy? I can’t believe that I’m complaining about this subject but as I approach my forties, but alas, here I am. What I loved about the first film was the style that oozed from every frame, but now the series has strayed so far from that aesthetic that I find my eyes rolling when they hit the frozen wastelands and may have permanently injured one of them when they establish that werewolves won’t venture that far north only to have dozens of them knocking down the gates moments later. I also feel compelled to clarify that the decent action scenes are truly the individual fights between named characters; the bigger action set pieces are practically background filler and laughable in their execution.
How does this entry fair against the previous film? I’m at a loss: I think they may be so similar in many ways that Blood Wars is the superior simply because I was expecting much less from it. I very much hope that the series does not end on this note.