Review: Underworld: Blood Wars

A fourth sequel it’s hard to imagine anyone actually wanted, Underworld’s latest slice of PVC-clad tedium is all wheel-spinning set-up for a entirely unnecessary fifth. Awful.

Kate Beckinsale’s gleefully wicked turn in Whit Stillman’s lesser-known Austen adaptation Love & Friendship is one of the year’s finest comic performances. It is a shame, then, that she saw fit to tarnish her own brand once more with the tediously woeful and entirely unnecessarily resuscitated Underworld franchise.

The latest painful addition to this never worthwhile endeavour, Underworld: Blood Wars, kicks off with a quick refresher that merely serves to remind how little of interest has happened over the course of four interminable instalments. Vampires hate werewolves. Beckinsale’s vampire assassin Selene got done over by her undead overlords and is now castigated for killing her own. Troubled by her decision to give up her hybrid daughter to sanctuary unknown for the girl’s safety, there’s also some tedious Twilight boy stuff involving Divergent drip Theo James for bad measure.

The plot, such as it is, is stuck on a loop, with Game of Thrones and Outlander’s Tobias Menzies as a thoroughly unconvincing big bad wolf leader out to kill all vampires and Lara Pulver as Samira, a manipulative vamp working a low rent take on Eva Green’s cornering of peculiarly British evil.

Selene is stuck in the middle, while Charles Dance continues to undermine his own brilliance, appearing in such entirely beneath him fare as the wise father of James’ brooding David.

Samira pulls a few strings to get Selene back in the fold, ostensibly to train a new vamp army, while the baby bloodsuckers in question garb themselves in the sort of outfits that would make a 90s boy band feel embarrassed while striking curious poses. By the time toe double-crossing kicks in, it’s hard to care.

The debut feature from director Anna Foerster, everything about this film looks really, really bad, but the werewolf transformations in particular are appalling, as is the dye job Selene inexplicably attains after a sojourn in the spirit world.

Replete with wonky dialogue penned by The Last Witch Hunter scribe Cory Goodman, it’s further hampered by leaden action sequences cut Michael Bay-style so as to be entirely weightless. The dreary film is also devoid of human characters, rendering it almost impossible to give a damn about this struggle between B-movie relics.

What’s even worse is that nothing actually happens. The entire inconsequential affair serves as a laborious set-up for a sixth instalment, which, after an excruciatingly endless 90 minutes, it’s difficult to imagine anyone could want.

Stephen A Russell @SARussellwords