“Underworld: Blood Wars” is the fifth entry in the dimly lit, surprisingly resilient vampires-vs-werewolves franchise, but it’s the first one where I generally understood what was happening and why. (And that’s without having seen part 4!) It’s still a mediocre rehearsal of genre conventions, and somewhat pointless — the story hinges on everyone trying to extract information from someone who doesn’t have it — but at least it’s coherent?
After a helpful recap, we begin with our super-vampire heroine, Selene (Kate Beckinsale), on the run from both her own kind and the lycans. The vampires consider her a traitor for reasons I do not recall but which seemed valid, and both groups want to find her daughter, Eve, a pureblood vamp-wolf hybrid whose blood could save us all, or something.
But despite being persona non grata, Selene is invited back to vampire HQ, somewhere in approximately Europe, because her skills are needed to train new vampire soldiers (“death dealers”) to fight the revitalized werewolf army that is expected to attack them any day.
“Underworld” (2003) C-
“Underworld: Evolution” (2006) C-
“Underworld: Rise of the Lycans” (2009) C-
“Underworld: Awakening” (2012)
“Underworld: Blood Wars” (2017) C
That’s if the vampires can stop fighting among themselves, which they can’t. Vampire hunk David (Theo James), son of vampire grand poo-bah Thomas (Charles Dance), is on Selene’s side; ambitious coven leader Semira (Lara Pulver) schemes campily with her lover/stooge Varga (Bradley James); all are unaware of the double- and triple-crosses that await.
Directed by first-timer Anna Foerster, the action is negligible, the dialogue forgettable, the thrills rare and fleeting. I’m delighted by the fact that in this world, tasting someone’s blood enables you to see their memories (which could radically transform our criminal justice system), but disappointed that the frowny-faced movie isn’t as delighted as I am. But like I said, at least it’s comprehensible. Can’t wait for part 6!
C (1 hr., 31 min.; )