The year is 2016. That means it’s been 3-4 years since the last Underworld film – we’re due for another.
Merely a blip to Vampires, Lycans and studio execs, the gap between the saga’s chapters has allowed old rivalries to fester, grudges to grow and vicious infighting to boil over just as the holiday season hits. A relic of the post-Matrix era when everything had to involve leather, infinitely-stocked semi-automatics and drawn-out if exhilarating fight sequences, cinema-goers can take solace that this action-fest/forbidden love saga, despite its decline in quality over successive instalments, still effortlessly surpasses Twilight, which it has now thankfully outlasted.
For those, like this author, enamoured with the series from its earliest days and for whom Underworld’s later misgivings remain largely forgivable in light of the saga’s compelling scale and still-expanding universe, there’s no need to explain the plot, you’ve seen it all before. Selene, Vampire warrior (a reliably excellent Kate Beckinsale) gets some cool new abilities, and, as is want to be the case nowadays, even more Game of Thrones veterans have been lumped onboard, with Tobias Menzies providing the only real breath of fresh air as Blood Wars’ villain Marius, alongside Charles Dance who returns as vampire elder Thomas.
There is barely a scene in the film where more than half of the dialogue doesn’t give way to clunky, groan-inducing exposition. A visit by Selene and David (Theo James) to a northern fortress proves most unbearable of all, with vampires popping in and out to inform the pair of crucial details about their pasts that they really should know. Lara Pulver (Sherlock) joins the proceedings as the stock nefarious double-dealer, growing in menace with each scene as she dons progressively sillier costumes.
Partly palace-intrigue and otherwise a side-note in a much more intriguing overarching narrative, the wordless actions sequences where everyone just gets on with shooting each other, on par with many of the series’ most famous, mercifully go some way to redeeming Blood Wars.
If you’ve never seen an Underworld film before, do not start here, you will be hopelessly lost even with the prelude composed entirely of rehashed footage. For the fans, Blood Wars won’t leave you feeling cheated, and that’s about the best that can be said about it.
Underworld: Blood Wars is in cinemas now