UNDERWORLD: BLOOD WARS, UK/US, 2016. Starring Kate Beckinsale, Theo James, Lara Pulver, Charles Dance, Tobias Menzies, Bradley James, Daisy Head, James Faulkner. Directed by Anna Foerster. 91 minutes. Rated MA (Strong violence, blood and gore)
This is the fifth film in the cab underworld series, which is lasted well over a decade. It is not a film to make converts – a bit late because there is so much background from the previous films to be absorbed to make sense of this one.
So, it is definitely a film for the fans, just the 90 minutes, not overstaying its welcome, plenty of the same ingredients – but a plotline which is much more direct, less convoluted than before.
Basically, the film lives up to it title, this is a Blood Wars conflict, several rather blood in gory battles, and a climax where it is clear from the film that the vampires are the goodies and the lichens are the baddies – the vampires being, on the whole, very civilised in their way of speaking, their behaviour (though not without their traitors) and the lichens are vicious werewolves who burst out of their human skins to become giant, aggressive beastly dogs.
The heroine of all the films, Kate Beckinsale is Celine, seems to be at peace after the previous episodes, lamenting the death of her lover Michael, regretfully having to leave her daughter, a girl of mixed vampire and lichen blood, who becomes the prey of the Lycan chief who wants to get her blood to become all-powerful.
Speaking of all-powerful, there is a very sultry villain S, semi era, (a seductive Lara Pulver) who wants revenge against Celine, persuades the vampire leader, Thomas (Charles Dance) to get Celine and his son David (Theo James) to come to one of the remaining vampire mansions. Celine is to train the vampire soldiers for conflict against the Lichens.
With all that mention intrigue, Celine and David go north to another vampire mansion in the snow and ice. The lichens have a vampire spy and so attack in the North – with a surprise conquering of Celine by Marius (Tobias Menzies) the capital Lycan who is seeking domination.
So, back to the original mansion, some era thinking she has the upper hand, only to be confronted by David, betrayed by her lover, but saved, momentarily, by another capital Lycan attack – and the resurrection of Celine.
Happy ever after? The possibility – but taking the story further is also a possibility…
Sony released December 1st
Peter Malone MSC is an Associate of the Australian Catholic Office for Film and Broadcasting.