Underworld: Blood Wars review - a classic example of how to ruin a franchise
The Underworld franchise, about the centuries-old war between the Lycans, or werewolves, and vampires, was always a favourite among the millions of vampire tales. The first gave the most solid story; the second was a decent follow-up as was the third.
But studios need to know when to kill a franchise, instead of diluting its legacy - as they did with installment 5 and 6 - Underworld: Blood Wars. So even though you want to sit back and enjoy the dark spectacle unfold, each scene just disappoints more and more.
The Kate Beckinsale (who plays Selene, our leather clad Death Dealer) vehicle doesn't lack action and the story moves briskly to support that structure. We pick up the story from the end of No. 4 where Selene's still on the run from her vampire kin for killing her mentor. She's got David (Theo James from the Divergent series) by her side, who is by far the most vapid actor in the movie.
The Lycans are still mostly a great, unwashed horde which they have been since Michael Sheen's character was taken off the roster is led by Marius (Tobias Menzies, the Outlander villain) who does a pretty decent Christopher Plummer impersonation. He wants to desperately get his hands on Selene's daughter - a hybrid vampire-werewolf - to enhance the abilities of the wolves and finally win the war.
But Selene has no idea where her daughter is, who's been tucked away safely somewhere by David. Soon enough, as the threat of the Lycans grows, a coven reaches out to her to help them train young warriors.
And so on and so forth, until the action, videogame-like segments where there's a tonne of blood, guts and unnecessary killing.
This is Anna Foerster's directorial debut and to her credit she manages to keep the dark tones of the Underworld house style intact. The imagery is great, but there were just a few shots that were more than a little bit jarring. Just as an important character is about to reach a pivotal moment in a fight, the frames slow down, creating an odd effect that's reminiscent of Ekta Kapoor's serials.
She was also definitely inspired by Game of Thrones - the castle in the north is a stark reminder that winter has come and that GoT has been a game changer of sorts.
To be fair, some of the acting is great - what else can you expect from the likes of a veteran like Charles Dance, Kate Beckinsale and Sherlock's Lara Pulver. But no character minus Pulver's villain gets much time; things just neatly fall into a straight line for them until they meet their fate.
Worst of all, there's no real resolution.
If you prayed that this was the last you'd see of a leathered-up Beckinsale slash through werewolves and generally kick ass, it's not going to happen. Because Underworld: Blood Wars is a classic example of a franchise gone wrong because of the greed of studios.
It's a crime. When will they learn how to let a good thing be?