‘Underworld: Blood Wars’ Review: Stop It

'Underworld: Blood Wars'

Movie Rating:

1

Hey, remember when everyone was obsessed with those ‘Underworld’ movies? I’ll bet you don’t because that never actually happened. Yet here we are, 14 years later, and there are still sequels being made. ‘Underworld: Blood Wars’ is the latest title in the franchise. It’s not particularly better or worse than any of the previous handfuls of nonsense. It’s just the same old crap refried and served up again.

It would be nice to say that this one is so bad that it’ll finally put an end to this ongoing cinematic nightmare. Sadly, this garbage fire will likely keep burning. Why? Who knows? I mean, bellbottoms once made a comeback. Stupid doesn’t die. It just gets stronger.

So what’s this one about? I honestly have no idea. On a certain level, the ‘Underworld’ mythology is brain dead simple. There are vampires and there are werewolves. They fight an ongoing war. Selene (Kate Beckinsale) is at the center because of fate or whatever. She has some sort of halfbreed monster daughter who’s a secret to something or other. That’s important. Just not enough for that character to be in this movie. That would allow the overall narrative to advance and this sequel is all about wheel-spinning. Instead of building new ideas, the flick just replays old ones. Once again, Selene is caught up in vampire politics, which I guess are bad. Once again, she fires handguns at werewolves and jump kicks some naughty vamps. Once again, it’s all pointless. Whatever. Who cares? Clearly not any of the army of ‘Underworld’ screenwriters.

On the plus side, the latest director on the ‘Underworld’ chopping block is TV veteran Anna Foerster. She doesn’t do anything to change the moody blue aesthetic of the series, but she does clearly have fun staging big action scenes that look glossy and expensive. There’s no shaky-cam. You can see the fights. Some are even stylish. For this series, that’s a big step in the right direction. However, none are particularly memorable. After all, when the ‘Underworld’ saga kicked off in 2003, this brand of leather-clad gun-fu was already going out of style. As much as Foerster tries to deliver some thrills, she’s stuck treading through tedious action beats that have been played out endlessly before, especially in ‘Underworld’ movies.

Kate Beckinsale also continues to do a remarkable job of maintaining her dignity at the center of these monstrosities. She can kick ass in all the required ways and manages to lend gravitas to cornball dialogue that doesn’t deserve it. The actress could have been a beloved action movie star if she’d gotten a franchise worthy of her talents. Instead, she’s stuck being the best part of these bad movies almost every few years. You need only look at any of the other cast members to see how good Beckinsale is. The indistinguishable collection of catalog models/actors (plus an underused Charles Dance) pose like action figures in frames and look like they’re squeezing out a fart while spitting out meaningless gibberish in a series of growls.

It’s pretty laughable, but unfortunately just boring enough to never cross the line into accidental camp comedy. The ‘Resident Evil’ movies have been running to similar inexplicable success alongside ‘Underworld’ for the last 14 years, but those are at least unabashedly silly and over-the-top in ways that can be fun and accidentally hilarious. ‘Underworld’ is too po-faced for that. These movies are the sad goth ‘tweens of bad fantasty franchises. They claim to know pain without any evidence. They put on a dark and cool image without any substance. They’re a waste of time. I guess the best approach is just to ignore the ‘Underworld’ movies and hope that someday they’ll disappear. That’s a dream that feels increasingly impossible, but a dream worth clinging to.

22 comments

  1. Al

    So…

    0 stars?

    A half of a star?

    Where’s the rating?

    This feels like a mission statement to end the ‘Underworld’ series, more than a review.

  2. Thulsadoom

    I’m guessing Phil didn’t like it… 😉 Or any of the other Underworld movies, for that matter. Still, it looks ten times better than The Force Awakens! 😉 And at least good silly fun!

    And saying that Kate would’ve been better as the star of another action movie franchise… heck, how many chances do you think people have, even successful actors and actresses? She’s the star of a very big and successful (regardless of opinions) action movie franchise that’s hit 5 films. I think she’s doing pretty well in that regard, irrespective of the review rating. 😉

      • Thulsadoom

        From my own personal experience, it’s about 50/50. And even those I know that liked it, don’t think it’s especially great, they just thought it was fun. Very few Star Wars fans that I know, actually liked it. So I think there’s a few more than 18 and a 1/2. 😉 On the other hand, I don’t know anyone who didn’t enjoy Rogue One.

  3. Troy

    Ouch! Overly critical much? I don’t know who pulls your strings to get you to see what you obviously detest, but it would behoove both reader and writer if you were directed at fare that would be worthy of your worshipfulness perhaps, instead of slumming it with campy B troupe. IJS

    There’s obviously people out there who enjoy this type of schlock, myself included, so all the ultra nasty, super lambasted commentary is really totally uncalled for and I get that it’s your opinion but there is a level of journalistic professionalism to be expected or have we thrown that on top of the “garbage fire will likely keep burning” pile? #tweleveyearoldreviewer

  4. ryan

    How about a new reviewer for the new year.Sorry phil but your shits getting old! You never seem to like anything just dump all over it.I wont be reading anymore,Just too negative for me sorry.

    • Al

      I second this.

      Sorry, Phil. It has nothing to do with differing opinions, or whether or not I agree with your star rating. None is that matters to me. I just want to be engaged. At this point, it just feels like I’m reading the same exact review, over and over again. You find a way to make the same redundant comments, in nearly every review. And many of them don’t feel like reviews, at all.

      • Chris B

        Not to be an apologist or anything, but when someone churns out 4-5 film reviews every single week and sometimes more during the festival circuit, it has to be expected that a similar phrase or two may appear from time to time.

        I’m pretty sure most people assume being a film critic is one of the easiest jobs in the world, but it has it’s challenges like any other profession. You have to watch a lot of bad movies along with the good or ones that you aren’t interested in at all. And on top of that, you have to write creatively about each and everyone with deadlines looming. For a brief period I was reviewing movies for fun and quickly came to understand what a grind it can turn into.

        I think Phil is a good writer, I don’t always agree with him but he always has a strong opinion on a movie and clearly puts effort into voicing it. I guess his reviews just aren’t for everyone. If that’s the case, maybe just don’t read them anymore?

        • Al

          You make some good points, Chris. I just think that Phil needs to focus on keeping his reviews on point. They should read like film reviews; not agendas/vendettas/mission statements. He also needs to watch the redundancies. I’m not going to point out certain phrases, but I think we can all agree that the same ones pop up, repeatedly, in almost every one of his reviews.

          However, as you said, I can simply stop reading his reviews. I can stop reading the bonus view theatrical reviews, until there’s a new reviewer. Perhaps that’s best.

  5. I am a long time frequenter of HDD here, first time commenter and I have to say this review was not much of a review but more of a hate letter against the Underworld series. I personally enjoy them (and Kate!), along with a great many other people. Is this movie totally bereft of any kind of redeeming qualities to warrant that 1 star?

  6. Folks, in case you haven’t noticed, Underworld: Blood Wars currently has a 20% approval rating on Rotten Tomatoes. The majority of critics who’ve seen it were as negative or more negative on it than Phil. He is hardly in a minority opinion with this review.

    Maybe it’s just a bad movie. What do you expect him to say about it?

  7. eric

    More Underworld movies! More Resident Evil Movies!

    I would like to see them inject some life into these and get more creative. But keep cranking them out.

  8. Les

    Saw Underworld Blood Wars this weekend and liked it!! I did read this review before I went but quite frankly reviews typically do not sway me one way or another from seeing a movie. Typically, I do not agree with many critics. I thought the movie was just fine and will gladly purchase it on Digital HD when it comes out.

  9. Chaz

    I’m not expecting greatness with this series, but I own all 4 so far on Bluray and do enjoy watching them for what they are. Hate to say it but I actually love the Resident Evil series, ultimate guilty pleasures for me, no they arent good films and I fully know that but damn they are fun, pretty much the same with Underworld but I didnt see the 4th one in the theater and I probably wont bother with this either but I’ll own it eventually…now Resident Evil, I will probably pay to go see that one, its always a blast 🙂

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