Protect the bloodline
The above is the inane tagline for the fifth film in a franchise which has seen more bastardisation of bloodlines than Britain. Alright, that was slight hyperbole but throughout nearly every film bloodlines have been tainted left, right, and centre. The thing is when the bloodlines are no longer pure everyone seems to get stronger, so why protect it? Anyway the tagline is absolute nonsense, and considering where the franchise has been to this point it just goes to show how little effort is being put into developing the story for Underworld: Bloodlines and the series as a whole. Granted this will just have been a marketing team and not the films production, but it’s emblematic of the issues at hand; a lack of understanding as to what makes a good action horror film.
In this fifth instalment of the franchise the lycans are starting to take over, led by enigmatic leader Marius (Tobias Menzies) they are wiping out covens and safe houses and building an army to wipe out the vampires once and for all by decimating the Eastern Coven. However to do that they need the blood of Selene’s (Kate Beckinsale) hybrid daughter Eve. Semira (Lara Pulver), one of the council members of the Eastern Coven, on the other hand wants to provide refuge for Selene in return for training a new batch of death dealers to aid their cause. Semira however has other not so ambiguous intentions, not just for Selene but for her coven as well.
Regrettably, despite being five films into the series the issues that plagued the first Underworld film are still present in Blood Wars. The latest entry does manage to retain the rich mythology laid out at the start of the series, but much like the first film it’s more of a backing track to an idiotic story that had my mind singing “Why can’t we be friends”. Apparently the plot line of a new lycan leader in Marius wasn’t enough to fill the brisk 91 minute running time, so another was shoehorned into it whereby yet again some scheming vampire leader craves absolute power. In this case it’s Semira, played rather devilishly by Lara Pulver, and it’s just as drab as the first time we saw it when Kraven so ineffectively tried to assume control in Underworld. Thankfully this time we were spared the 120 minute running time. What makes Semira’s power play so absurd though, especially considering Marius has supposedly reduced a number of other vampire covens to ash, is that she is willing to kill vampires in her own coven to achieve her goals. At the base of her motives though is she wants Selene for her own bloody desires, which is fair enough but you don’t need to put your coven into turmoil for it. Maybe Semira’s just a flawed character and we’re watching the extent of her rubbish plan, or somebody just wrote a really poor character arc.
Further to that, once again we have marvellous movie monsters reduced to doing nothing more than shoot bullets at each other. In fact there is a scene which involves lycans invading a nordic vampire coven which primarily involves shooting and arrows, with next to nobody in lycan form. That is until they retreat and a stream of werewolves exit the battle scene, and you wonder where the hell were all these lycans before? It could have easily been an action scene out of a G.I. Joe film. They must have ran out of cash for dodgy special effects and just made everybody wear big coats instead. The more intimate fight scenes that don’t involve infinite ammo guns yield better results with some good choreography, but it’s too little to make a difference.
The mythology of the franchise is expanded, if not a little convoluted, with a new coven and some interesting developments for a couple of key characters. However it hardly makes up for the rest of the films flaws. Considering what the Underworld franchise could have been, it’s a damn shame where it has ended up. Protect the mythology, forget the rest.