Friday, December 2, 2016

Underworld: Blood Wars

Hunted by both werewolves and vampires because of her hybrid blood that can give extraordinary abilities to both groups, Selene (Kate Beckinsale) is on the run with David (Theo James) until the eastern coven grants them amnesty and refuge. In exchange, power-hungry elder Semira (Lara Pulver) asks her to train the young death dealers of the clan so that they can match the growing threat of an invasion led by Marius (Tobias Menzies), the most powerful Lycan leader they have come across yet. When true intentions are revealed and alliances are shifted, Selene finds herself in a precarious position of protecting her daughter whose whereabouts she’s not even aware of. With the help of David’s father Thomas (Charles Dance), the two head north to seek help and answers from the northern coven, not knowing that they are leading the enemies right at their very doorstep.

As a standalone feature, Underworld: Blood Wars could probably do well on its own. The vampire versus werewolf genre has already reached its saturation point and as of now, there seems to be nothing new to explore. The dynamics and the rules remain the same, the majority of which you already know by heart not because you want to, but rather due to the many films, novels, and TV series that have already given their take on this abused rivalry. If you have not seen any of the other movies in the franchise, then you only have to consult the worldwide web in case you get curious enough to care. If you have the luxury of time, then a marathon of the four prequels is also an option. You can also count on pop culture.

The use of modern weaponry somehow hijacks the grandeur of witnessing more traditional hand-to-hand combat. The few legit action scenes are lacking. They leave you wanting because there’s too much reliance on quick camera movements as a not so impressive substitute for actual fight choreography. There’s a blonde vampire who can teleport, which makes you wonder why she chooses to endure being beaten black and blue when she can just disappear and reappear at will anyway. Overall, they still provoke an adrenaline rush, even though the probability of you being underwhelmed is much greater this time around.

The death scenes are quite anti-climactic. For all the effort they throw in to convince us that these mutants are the real deal, it seems as though they totally ran out of ideas on how to kill them in a way that will make you care. Again, it’s quite underwhelming. Underworld: Underwhelmed! Perhaps the more interesting aspect is the politics involved in the story, on how the different vampire factions try to outdo one another. It’s like seeing human beings sell each other out because it’s just in their nature. In any case, the power play comes across as rather petty given the greater threat they all have to face.

The last and only Underworld film I’ve seen was Underworld: Rise of the Lycans, which is apparently the third movie in the franchise but first in line in terms of chronology. That was back in 2009, and I can barely remember anything except for the poster where an old vampire played by Bill Nighy is sitting on a throne as if proudly defecating. A review of its universe via Wikipedia was necessary to fill in whatever detail I missed. It turns out that I’m not missing much, and neither are you. The premise is still the same: the never-ending battle between these two clans and their failed attempts to make each other extinct. Given how the plot is resolved, expect another sequel in the works. Maybe Beckinsale will be a grandma by then, a literal elder!

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