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UNDERWORLD: BLOOD WARS Bad Blood

underworld-blood-wars-kate-beckinsale-imageDirected by Anna Forester
Starring Kate Beckinsale, Charles Dance, Theo James

Selene (Kate Beckinsale) is back.

The deadliest of the vampire death-dealers, killer of her own kind, mother of the hybrid, hunted by both Vampire and Lycan. With the rise of a new Werewolf leader, Marius (Tobias Menzies), the war has take a disastrous turn for the vampires, and they are on the brink of annihilation. In desperation they seek to form an alliance with Selene, to fight the werewolves, but the councillor Semira (Lara Pulver) has schemes of her own.

For a film bathed in the romanticism of the modern vampire genre (blood, doomed love, clan politics, black candles, pleather), Blood Wars is curiously unromantic in its approach to its subject. It is coldly perfunctory in manner, barrelling on with the heavy inevitability of a freight train. There is no time to breathe, and engage in the niceties of character development, or to explore elements of the plot, or to delve in the richness of the setting. Instead it is ever forward, in an its attempt to reach the finishing line.

As a result, everything rings hollow. There is no depth here, just momentum. Everything is motivated by the needs of the plot, rather than having any sense of internal logic. A horde of vampires need to move thousands of miles in seconds, during daylight, to arrive at an immensely convenient moment…..sure. There needs to be a sudden betrayal, and shift of political allegiances….why not, its been a quarter of an hour since the last one….we’re overdue. Blood Wars may do an adequate job of explaining its Machiavellian machinations in terms of its previously established back story. It just never sells it.

Still, at this stage of the game, you know exactly what you are getting with an Underworld film, and Blood Wars delivers that. It is steeped in the tropes of modern Vampirism, drawing heavily off the works of Nancy A Collins, the Blade trilogy, and the games of White Wolf. There is plenty of action here, with some ridiculous set piece fights. Some suffer from an over indulgence in poor CG, but one or two really hit the mark. There is also that strange vampiric mysticism that the series has cultivated. As Selene once again accepts her place as the deadliest of the death-dealers, and through pseudo-religious revelation becomes a more effective arse-kicker.

For fans of the franchise, this fifth entry is at least better than the last, delivering what you would expect from the series. However that is fairly faint praise as it does this with a cold workman like efficiency, as if it is ticking off a check-list. On the whole this is rather thin-blooded.

DAVID O’CONNELL

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