It’s ‘bloody’ evident that they’ve run out of things for Kate Beckinsale to do, besides look great and kill Lycans.Before I got to the theatre to watch the latest Underworld movie, I admitted to my coterie of fellow popcorn-chewes that it was probably going to be a pretty terrible movie, but not necessarily one that you couldn’t enjoy. Turns out I was right on both counts. Bloody right.
The fifth film in the dark (they’re obsessed with black) film franchise, Blood Wars is different in as much as it attempts new trajectories for the characters, but doesn’t achieve much more than being a bridge between the last movie and the inevitable sixth one. True, the film franchise does get a much needed 21st century makeover — all the castles with iron gates and torture chambers are replaced with fancy covens with touch-screen entry access and training zones that would have made Professor X’s eyes moisten at the edges.
But when it comes to its core — the never-ending feud between vampires and Lycans — it’s all gore and no lure as usual.
The fights are unimaginative, coarse, seemingly endless and violent with pulp fiction-like blood spatter.
The visual effects and graphic detail, normally a high point with such big budget productions, looked cheap and hastily rendered. Shockingly so. And considering there never was much of a story in the first place, there aren’t any brownie points to be gained there either.
The only shining light, though she’s understandingly clad in a tight black spandex-leather jumpsuit, is Kate Beckinsale. She kicks Lycans’ backside just as unapologetically and unemotionally as she did in the first Underworld movie, 16 years ago. And she looks bloody good amidst all the inevitable gore and bloodiness. Which is kind of cool, given that she’s now 43.
As Selene, the vampire hybrid who’s a lean, sordid killing machine, on the hunt for her missing daughter, it’s familiar territory for Beckinsale. And she sails through without grimacing too much. Even when this movie’s arch-nemesis, Lycan leader Marius (Tobias Menzies) pounds her to pulp. She doesn’t bat an eyelid while voicing her terrible lines. She’s that good.
There are a slew of side characters with mildly interesting origin stories — like the ruggedly handsome Theo James, who plays Selene’s protégé David, or the delightfully power hungry (I’d normally say vixen, but that would be a faux pas here) vampire Semira (Lara Pulver), who’s out for Selene’s blood. But they’re just that — mildly interesting.
So, hang on, you’re probably wondering what I meant when I said this was also enjoyable. There’s a point where you suspend all belief and hope that this movie will get better and you wait for the inevitable end. It’s at this point that the sheer spectacle of watching grown adults in shimmery suits beating misshapen wolf-thingys will become enjoyable. Call them cheap thrills, but they’ve got a certain trash entertainment value to them. Right down to the hopelessly unmeaningful voice-over at the end that would have made Optimus Prime blanch.
Now that. That’s kinda worth it.