Review: Underworld: Blood Wars

The Underworld series is a bit of a guilty pleasure of mine. Make no mistake: I am not under some sort of delusion that they’re good movies, but they have enough style, action, tone, and decent dialogue lines that allow me to get past the campiness, the shallowness, and the occasional cheesy dialogue.

 

I was a bit worried that I wouldn’t remember some of the key parts of Underworld 2 and 3 because I haven’t seen them lately, but then I forgot that every movie after the original has a “previously on Underworld…” segment where they fill you in on every plot point of the previous installments, all narrated by protagonist Selene, the bestest-vampire-warrior-ever-but-no-really-she’s-the-bee’s-knees.

 

This narration is particularly bad storytelling, as one should hope to fill their audience in through clever and subtle reminders of previous events within the movie, but I initially accepted it because I don’t have very high expectations for these movies anyway.

 

… and then all the letters for the title screen start crawling together to coagulate into the title of the movie, Selene literally whispers these plot points again word-for-word… as if we needed a second reminder.

We then see Selene driving a motorcycle, killing an assortment of creatures that want her dead/captured. As this happens, Selene narrates even more exposition at us. This exposition acts as a third introduction because she’s telling us things we already knew or could draw from context.

 

And this movie is not getting off to a good start…

 

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This movie is rather heavily reliant on exposition. The characters are completely too frank with each other, and therefore the audience, and the whole spectacle eventually feels condescending and disengaging.

 

Selene, when compared to her performance in the previous movies, seems rather tired. In every movie, her entire character is defined by her humorlessness; her completely black, leathery, skin-tight wardrobe; and her extreme proficiency in killing all who stand in her way.

And while they seemed to have nailed the first two aspects for this movie, Selene seems to be easily taken down by whatever the movie blandly feels like needs to take her down for variety’s sake. This almost completely deflates her character because one cannot get by on just looks, a lack of sense of humor, and a black corset.

 

David, the platonic statue friend of Selene’s, doesn’t have much character either aside from the fact that he’s a good guy and he likes Selene.

 

And the rest of the characters are all the same: the vampires are stubborn and filled with turmoil amongst the ranks, and the lycans are there to kick the vampires in the teeth because reasons. Sadly, all of these new characters filling the old shoes are even less compelling than the ones in the previous movies, and their motivations were often unconvincing.
It feels like the series is just in a constant state of resuscitating itself in hopes to milk the cash cow for all its worth (assuming they still make money off of these).

 

Another annoying aspect of this adventure is that there are constant flashbacks from previous movies sprinkled throughout the story, and it felt like an irritating way to fill up screen time. The first time, it was because Selene was drinking the blood of someone, and she is filled with their past memories, but this happens a number of times throughout the movie, and it felt tiresome after a while.

 

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There is one vampire chick that was a bit interesting because she had some actual character. She’s defined by her power-lust, her uncaringness toward others, and her vile ambition. However, aside from the fact that her character is also sabotaged by the expository script, it’s not that big of a plus if the only person you can remotely characterize is the unlikable one.

 

There is some gruesome violence in this movie, and it was simultaneously shocking and laughable at the same time. It was certainly the most entertaining aspect of the movie, but considering this over-the-top violence is all happening amongst these humorless characters, it often came across as amusing comedy instead of serious brutality.

 

The villains in this movie were all meh, as was the soundtrack.

 

The cinematography was extremely choppy during the fight scenes, and it was often humorous to see the camera come to a complete stop as our heroes struck some sort of awesome pose that desperately tried to inform you have how cool you needed to think they were.

 

Underworld: Blood Wars is the first unnecessary sequel of 2017, and I’m sure it will not be the last. I enjoyed the over-the-top violence despite it compromising the tone of the movie, and the aesthetics of the movie were finely stylized as usual, but there’s really no heart and sole to this movie. It just seems like a tired story perpetuation. If you are a die-hard Underworld fan, I’m sure all of my critiques will unphase you. Anyone else, please just don’t watch this film and let this series die already, and I’m giving this movie a 3 out of 10.

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