#Underworld has always been a difficult subject among film fanatics. When it came out in 2003, it was classified as a gothic version of Romeo & Juliet, with vampires and werewolves. All this was pre-Twilight, mind you. Coming off the heels of videogame movie hit Resident Evil, with its action-packed thrills and a strong female lead, it eventually led to the godawful, yet weirdly entertaining Van Helsing, with actress Kate Beckinsale at the helm.
Fourteen years after the beginning of the story, the fifth film, Underworld: Blood Wars, is being released to theaters in the U.S. and the UK this month. Here's why it should be the series' conclusion.
A War Waged For Centuries...And It Feels That Way
Back in 2003, Underworld wasn't anything we had seen before. It had turn-of-the-century CGI and a love story with bullets that everyone kept audiences at the edge of our seats. Influenced by then-recent movies like Blade and The Matrix, Kate Beckinsale was Selene, a vampire with a bone to pick with the Lycans, a breed of werewolf as evil as they were crazy.
A war had been waged for centuries, which we had the opportunity to see in the useless but insightful prequel Underworld: Rise of The Lycans, showing us how easy it is to expand flashback sequences into a full-fledged film.
But love seems to be the main catalyst of the entire thing, with Lucian, the first Lycan, losing his lover, Sonja, a vampire, by the hands of her father, who didn't approve of the relationship. Funnily enough, centuries later, Selene eventually falls in love with Michael, a human that gets turned Lycan and eventually gets bitten by her, becoming the first hybrid in history, making him particularly dangerous.
This eventually lasts throughout three movies, including the prequel, where we're unnecessarily introduced to Lycan vs. Vampire History 101, with no reason whatsoever.
If Underworld had been a standalone movie, it'd probably be a bigger cult classic than it is, with a premise that does a decent job holding it together and some of the most exciting action scenes of its time. Except it went on.
Things later took a tumble, as Underworld: Awakening soft-rebooted the universe we're in, pushing us 12 years from where we were, all of the sudden, with an opportunity to introduce new characters, mainly David (Theo James), a proficient vampire warrior and a new enemy.
With the humans knowing about the existence of these creatures among them, Antigen tries to create a cure for the virus in their blood, by creating a super-sized version of the Lycan immune to silver. It could've been an interesting take, with its comic book-inspired narrative, but ultimately failed, with inconsequential action scenes and terrible special effects to blame. Somehow, a fifth installment was green-lit, most likely in order to try to save a franchise that never really stuck.
Somewhere in the middle, the main point of the films had gotten lost. After all, this was supposed to be about a war, not some sloppy love story with superficial feelings about family. Granted, every single movie of the franchise does have a few rather decent actions scenes, but ever since Underworld: Evolution, the excitement is heavily overshadowed by the sense of duty from Selene to protect the ones around her. That's where the franchise fails to deliver.
'Blood Wars' Brings Closure To An Overdue Ending
By the time Underworld: Blood Wars is upon us, we're introduced once again to a recap to everything that has happened in pretty much all four previous films, condensing six hours worth of film in two minutes. That shows you how relevant it is for you to keep up.
Moving onto the new chapter, Selene is being hunted by the Lycans, who are searching for her daughter, who is in hiding, while in the meantime being a pariah for the vampires, who still keep a grudge over her killing both elders, Viktor and Markus. When the Council requests that David and Selene return to train the new breed of death dealers, they're overrun by Semira, a vampire with a lust for power who'll do anything to get it, even kill her own kind.
As Anna Foerster's directorial debut, she definitely shows she's passionate about the universe and the characters that belong in it. The visuals look the best they have since the first installment, and the movie is fast-paced with plenty of bloodshed. The series could have gone out with a much worse ending...if this actually is the ending. (There is a sixth installment in development, according to Len Wiseman, possibly proving that his divorce with lead actress Kate Beckinsale won't affect the film's future.)
Where Do We Go From Here?
Just like #ResidentEvil, which is getting its final chapter released later in January (before a future reboot, anyway), Underworld shouldn't have been a franchise to begin with; a bigger budget turned it into something it was never meant to be.
To justify the production of a sixth Underworld flick means that there is more story to be told, but does anyone really care anymore? Box office numbers may still be solid, but story-wise, it seems like there isn't much left to tell. Perhaps fans will be more interested in the planned TV series reboot, as we've already seen with The Mortal Instruments-based Shadowhunters, which had its second season premiere this month.
All in all, the Underworld movies have had their ups and downs. Between a broken plot device and characters with very different priorities than when they started their journey, the foundations of a strong first film are now a mishmash of needless bullets flying and soap-opera stories. Which is a damn shame, because it deserved a whole lot better.
What do you think about the Underworld saga? Let me know in the comments below.