Review: UNDERWORLD: BLOOD WARS (2016) | Casey's Movie Mania | Movie Reviews, Features & Others

Tuesday, 29 November 2016



Following the events of 2012's UNDERWORLD: AWAKENING, Selene (Kate Beckinsale) remains on the run from both Lycans and Vampires. The Lycans, now led by Marius (Tobias Menzies), wanted her to disclose the whereabouts of Selene's teenage daughter Eve (India Eisley, who appeared in the previous instalment) for her precious super-hybrid blood. Things get complicated when Selene is caught in a web of betrayal by the scheming elder Vampire, Semira (Lara Pulver).

REVIEW: It has been four years since UNDERWORLD: AWAKENING in 2012 and the seemingly never-ending series shows no sign of slowing down. With UNDERWORLD: BLOOD WARS, this would mark the fifth instalment (in case you are losing count) in the series.

Replacing the Swedish directing duo Mans Marlind and Bjorn Stein from UNDERWORLD: AWAKENING is Anna Foerster, best known for her TV directing duties in numerous series like Criminal Minds and Outlander. Apart from making her feature-length directorial debut, Foerster is also the first female director to helm the UNDERWORLD movie. While one would expect a fresh angle from a female's point-of-view, Foerster opted to play safe by retaining the usual formula seen in the previous UNDERWORLD movies. Not surprisingly, UNDERWORLD: BLOOD WARS rears all the same old weaknesses (e.g. half-baked storyline and expository dialogues) that should have been reduced by now. So, that leaves another question: is there anything new in this fifth instalment? Well, there is one significant change surrounding Selene. At some point in the movie, you get to see a brand new Selene (complete with white highlights in her hair) who possesses new abilities such as teleportation.


The action scenes, in the meantime, are inconsistent. Although you still get to watch the series' signature slow-motion gunfights and hand-to-hand combats, Foerster's penchant for shooting most of the action in tight close-ups often ruined the excitement. If that's not enough, Karl Walter Lindenlaub's murky nighttime cinematography coupled with the series' hallmark of using a blue-grey filter is sometimes too dark to see properly on the big screen. This is especially evident during a badly-lit fight scene between Selene and Marius on the frozen tundra.

As for the cast, 43-year-old Kate Beckinsale is still looking good in her skintight black leather catsuit. Among newcomers to the series, Tobias Menzies doesn't impress much with his generic antagonist role as the new Lycan leader, Marius. However, Lara Pulver manages to stand out with her wickedly over-the-top villainess role as the elder Vampire, Semira.

Likewise, the movie concludes with yet another open ending to make way for a sixth instalment in the series. Oh, well...

Despite the involvement of Anna Foerster as the first female director in the series, UNDERWORLD: BLOOD WARS offers more of the same even after four years' hiatus since the last 2012 movie.

* This review is written courtesy from Sony Pictures Malaysia press screening *

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