UNDERWORLD: BLOOD WARS
Directed by Anna Foerster
Screenplay by Cory Goodman
Story by Kyle Ward and Cory Goodman
Based on characters created by Kevin Grevioux, Len Wiseman, And Danny McBride
Music by Michael Wandmacher
Edited by Peter Amundsen
Shot on location in the Czech Republic
If you have been wondering where all of those residents of Capitol City have been living since the place was shredded between the Capitol guards and the rebels, here’s some goodish news: They appear to be living in the East Coven. So, there they are and they are keeping up their style, even after all that, and the look right now is monochromatic black-on-black, if you will. The bad news, of course, would be that they all had to become vampires to live there. Even on that note there is a bright side though, they are favoured lead-white faces before this!
When the posters for Underworld: Blood Wars went up in theatres I was pretty excited. I’ve always enjoyed the franchise and the promise of another film was a bit unexpected. When no trailers appeared in the theatres my excitement dimmed considerably. No trailers can mean the studio doesn’t want to spend the money on a film for which they don’t have high hopes, but will probably coast along on fanbase until they plop it into Netflix and OnDemand. (It’s not nearly the major BRIDGE OUT sign that a film with no screenings is. Think of those as the guys on Tinder with pics of them with hot babes — swipe left…with a ten-foot finger.)
Still, it’s Underworld and it’s 3D, so that means Keebe’s gonna go. It also means everyone who wants to see Kate Beckinsale in black latex is going to be there. More about that later.
The first scene establishes that the high-adrenaline, ammo-heavy fight scenes are back and Selene (Beckinsale) is still screaming through the streets on her sleek black bike with her long black, leather coat flapping behind her. Lycans are hot on her tail and carnage ensues. And David (Theo James) makes his first appearance. His introduction in Underworld: Awakening was a welcome infusion to the franchise after Selene’s lover Michael (Scott Speedman) was murdered, Len Wiseman had stepped down as director, and Michael Sheen (Lucian) had moved on to more prestigious and critically acclaimed roles. Things were looking a bit glum. Whether Anna Foerster’s direction would help was a big question mark.
To show that no good deed really does good unpunished, Selene has spent the time since leading the Vampire and the Lycan clans to victory over the humans who wanted to exterminate them on the run from both. Not only are the clans out for blood, they are literally out for her blood. What the really want is the daughter she and Michael created, Eve, the only pure hybrid-blood in existence. Her blood would make the possessor invulnerable and the bad guys on both sides are willing to kill anyone to get it. Eve, however, vanished long ago and not even Selene knows where she is. Not that anyone believes her. There is only one person in all of this Selene can trust. After she saved David’s life with her immortal blood in the last instalment, he and his father have been completely loyal to her, despite the Council’s decree of a death sentence.
As the very best of all the Death Dealers, Selene has been able to evade capture and inflict massive casualties on both sides, but the Lycans are getting stronger and bolder under the leadership of Marius (Tobias Menzies). Where Lucian was slick and instinctive, a brilliant and charismatic leader, Marius is more in the sociopathic brute category of leadership, ruling with pure fear. To reinforce the animal interior, they roughed up Menzies’ usually upper class exterior: long, filthy hair; shaggy layers of clothing, face with something that looks like…like an unfortunate acne episode running through his entire left nasolabial fold. It ain’t pretty, kind of like really badly healed skin that is just crying out for a touch of concealer. (If you haven’t noticed by now that minor details can drive me mental, meet me.) Marius is a scary character and Menzies is more than up to the task.
Most of the actors are more than equal to the task (Charles Dance, James, Beckinsale, James Faulkner, Daisy Head) and some who take the camp factor off the scale (Lara Pulver). The weaknesses in U: BW and in the previous instalment are some of the very things that made the franchise so much fun in the first films: the trademarks.
If one wants to move as unnoticed a possible through crowds, perhaps sporting a full-length black leather coat is not your best move. In fact, anything to change your appearance might be in order. (Something I have yelled at Jason Bourne more times than I can count. Would it kill you to grow some facial hair or wear sunglasses? For shit’s sake, Jason!) Especially, if you look exactly the same all the time. The vampires’ ability to leap effortlessly high into the air now looks a bit silly after seeing wire-work done in so many and so many more complex scenes. Flying around rooms is now somehow reminiscent of the original Inspector Clouseau and his fights with Kato. And the clothes and coiffures? Well, as I mentioned, the Capitol City ex-pats.
There’s another problem with Underworld: Blood Wars: It is approaching the point of a series. When there is not enough plot to support 102 minutes on the silver screen every few years, it’s time to move to the premium channels. The franchise needs more than cool clothes and hot people (That reminds me, I know everyone expects to see the Selene posters, but whose site is this?) and fight scenes to stretch out a narrative that would be better wrapped up in an hour or stretched out with more subplots. And, on HBO or Showtime, they could still get big names, curse, and knock black leather boots. They won’t be able to lock a Kate Beckinsale, Theo James, or Tobias Menzies in for a series, but who knew the names Catriona Balfe, Kit Harrington, or Derek Wilson before their series caught fire.
Derek Wilson? Oh! You haven’t been watching Preacher? Well, well.