Imagine a world where an unstoppable force meets an immovable object. No, I am not talking about the Dark Knight and the Joker but something which is far less sophisticated and far more clichéd. The war between Vampires and Werewolves has been imagined and re-imagined countless times through several stories, plots and treatments ranging from the medieval Van Helsing to the neo-Noir Blade series to the cringeworthy Twilight franchise. Even in such a saturated creative space, the very first Underworld film (2003) was able to create a niche for itself through its powerful female protagonist which was an unconventional break from the otherwise male-dominated storyscape. The origin story had the appropriate amount of hoopla for us to develop interest in the characters supplemented by some of the best action sequences at that time, probably inspired by The Matrix which was bestowed upon our privileged senses just 4 years before.
Blood Wars, directed by Anna Foerster, is the fifth installment in the Underworld series and continues from a point where Selene, played by Kate Beckinsale, has become a pariah between the warring factions -the Vampires and the Lycans. Her daughter Eve is a hybrid who contains a potent mix of the two species through her father who was a Lycan himself, is sought after for her blood. This blood would not only make the captor invincible but also end the war once and for all. For this sole reason, Selene is being hounded as a means to reach her daughter, unknowing of the fact that she herself does not know of her whereabouts to keep her safe. Meanwhile, the normally disorganized Lycans have a new leader Marius who is strategically planning a siege on the Eastern Coven, the Vampire Head-quarters and may very well succeed. Seeing the imminent danger, one of the elder Vampires proposes to the Vampire council that Selene be brought back into the fold so that she can train their “cadets” (yes, they have boy scouts too) for battle. However, things are not as simple as they seem. Marius is no ordinary Lycan and holds a secret which may bring down the Vampires.
Keeping aside the fact that the story is in itself vastly unoriginal and a diluted version of the original one, it lacks Style that had set apart Underworld from other films. The screenplay is riddled with scenes which are lengthier than the purpose they need to serve and some which contribute nothing to the overall story. Selene’s narrative which aims to provide a premise to the audience, tells a story which seems more convoluted than it actually is until you scream inside – “I don’t freaking care. Show me some action.” Too much screen time is devoted to developing the politics within the Vampires wherein a woman (in fact – ‘The Woman’ from Sherlock) played by Lara Pulver slowly manipulates her way into ruling the coven. Despite her impressive portrayal of an obsessed player, her character contribution amounts to almost nothing in the story. More importantly, Marius (played by Tobias Menzies) who is projected as the antagonist who single handedly threatens to wipe out the Vampires is given almost no back-story except through flashes of memory, a blurred rendition of how he became what he became. You know its a mistake when you are replacing someone like Michael Sheen and expect us to suddenly feel the presence of this character who we know nothing about. Its only in the final act of the film that you feel anything about this character.
An interesting bit that I could notice was the plot’s laughable similarity to Game of Thrones. The Vampire Coven (King’s Landing) sees a mad woman (Cersei Lannister) rise to power. The actual heir to the throne Selene (Danaerys) is fighting her way through the world. Another Coven from the North (The Wall) decides to help Selene in reclaiming the Eastern Coven. But that’s just my brain trying to keep me amused through a washed out plot.
Blood Wars, unfortunately, is not the last movie in the series, judging by the way the story has concluded. Selene has ‘changed’ and has been accepted as the Vampire leader but the fate of her hybrid daughter is yet to be revealed (not that we care). The promising franchise has become a strung out soap-era which refuses to wrap up. If the makers wish to keep us invested, they seriously need to work towards a tighter script and towards bringing back the panache of the original. The essence of Underworld is not the intertwining storylines but the strong characters, presented around a graphic novel-like visceral imagery. Its as simple as that.
Until then I’ll just call it…Underdone!
gobblpoint: After reading through the perspective above, you may think – “Dare I watch this colossal waste of time ?”. I’d say – Stay back home and watch Twilight on Netflix.
Disclaimer: The images used in this post are the sole property of the makers of this film and are not owned by us in any form whatsoever.