The Underworld franchise is one that I have always enjoyed watching, with the first three movies in the series all enjoyable. However, the fourth movie, Underworld: Awakenings, left a lot to be desired. Some of it was eliminating the Michael storyline and adding the new male hero of David, while barely fleshing him out at all. The idea that Selene had a daughter while captured and put on ice was interesting but the fact that most of the movie was supposed to be humans vs. monsters made it all that much more boring.
By the time the audience learned that the werewolves were the enemy it was too late and the main bad guys were as boring as watching paint dry. The fact I used a cliché there is ironic because that entire fourth movie seemed to be a cliché that ignored what made the Underworld franchise great.
That is why I was happy when the fifth movie, Underworld: Blood Wars, returned the franchise to where it belonged.
Inexplicably, the fourth movie seemed to move the action to America and had too many humans involved in the story. Underworld: Blood Wars moved things back to castles and strongholds in Europe and that immediately added in the familiarity to this world that made this movie feel more a part of the Underworld mythos than the fourth one ever felt.
By the start of the movie, Selene has sent her daughter Eve away and the two agreed not to try to find each other to protect mother and daughter. Selene is broken and wants to give up. She is tired and everyone she loves is gone, leaving her alone. However, a new werewolf uprising is underway and their leader wants Selene, so they are relentlessly hunting her down.
Also, the vampires realize that they need help fighting or they will die and they know that Selene is their best hope for survival.
David (Theo James) is back and it is his father Thomas (Charles Dance) that convinces the last remaining strong coven that Selene is needed. Thomas does this for Semira (Lara Pulver), a female vampire council member who aspires for much more and he convinces the elder of the council, Cassius (James Faulkner) that they need Selene, despite Cassius hating everything about her because she killed Viktor and Marcus.
The reason for fear is the new werewolf leader, Marius (Tobias Menzies). He is very, very similar to Lucian from the first movie in that he has the werewolves united and ready to fight to end this war. However, while Lucian did some very bad things, he remained someone who was sympathetic and had a strong heart. Marius is completely evil, and while he receives respect from the werewolves, it is through manipulation and degradation unlike Lucian, who respected his comrades.
Plus, Marius is stronger than just about any werewolf outside of the ridiculous giant werewolf from Underworld: Evolution. He is too strong for the vampires to beat on their own and has his werewolf army not only united but disciplined and trained for war. The vampires in Cassius’ house are all too similar to those in the first movie that were not prepared for battle and the Death Dealers are young and untrained.
Underworld: Blood Wars takes the story of Selene, a former warrior who is ready to give up, and then it builds her back up. It then breaks her down completely again, even lower than she was at the start of the film, and forces her to rebuild herself once again, discovering the warrior inside for one final battle.
I have never been a big fan of the character of Selene throughout the series, believing her to be someone who is a victim that always gets pushed into battles rather than someone who takes control. She always made stupid mistakes when she tried to show her aggressive side.
Selene changes in this movie for the better. She finally becomes a hero and a badass at the same time. I enjoyed the introduction of a vampire coven to the north, living in the ice caverns and only wanting peace, something unique and interesting.
David, who was completely underutilized in that last movie, has a huge role in this story as well and completely takes over the main male role in the franchise.
That is where my main complaint comes in. Michael was treated as a special character from the start of the Underworld series. In this movie, he is discarded and thrown away. The way that happened, off-screen and off-hand, was an insult to the character and was poorly thought out and executed. Anyone who followed through with the series enjoying Selene and Michael’s story might tune out completely after how this movie handled the once important character.
I also felt that the character of Semira was just added to create tension and danger to a movie that really didn’t need her that much. I understand that she was important to David’s story, but that split the movie into David’s story and Selene’s story when it might have been better to tighten it up and combine the two into a bigger battle with Marius.
What has always made the Underworld movies great was the battles between vampires and Lycans. This movie is no different. The battles are miles better than Underworld: Evolution and the effects are better than Underworld: Rise of the Lycans. This movie doesn’t reach the levels of the first two movies, but it is great to see the vampires with guns blazing battling the Lycans, with teeth barred once again, although how the final battle ended was a bit of a letdown.
At the end of the day, Underworld: Blood Wars was a return to form for a franchise that lost its way with its last installment. The fights and action were great, the characters were once again strong, and this was exactly what I want to see from an Underworld movie.