I will never ever under any circumstances recommend anyone watch Underworld: Blood Wars, so do me a favor: Rent Love & Friendship. It’s available on Amazon Prime, it stars Kate Beckinsale (and Chloe Sevigny), and it is FANTASTIC. It’s Whit Stillman’s adaptation of Jane Austen’s unfinished novella Lady Susan and Beckinsale stars as Lady Susan, a scathing, scheming woman in turn-of-the-19th-century England. Beckinsale is terrific, and there’s a guy, Tom Bennett, who gives a Hall Of Fame level buffoon performance as Sir James. It’s a sharp, funny film with splendid dialogue, you should really see it. And I bet Kate Beckinsale would rather you watch Love & Friendship than Underworld: Blood Wars.
This is the eleventieth Underworld movie, a series which exists solely to give Goths fashion ideas, and it is by far the worst of the lot if the scale we’re using to measure is “every Underworld movie is the worst one they’re all terrible”. Kate Beckinsale is contractually obligated to return as Selene, a vampire who is super good at killing werewolves but she doesn’t want to kill werewolves anymore because she’s been doing it too long, which is how the audience feels about watching Underworld movies, too. Beckinsale is visibly bored by this movie and in fact quits being in it at one point and for a moment you feel hope, like this talented actress is finally free of this garbage franchise that has trapped her for over a decade, but then she is cruelly reeled back in at the end and there is no escape, none, for any of us.
Theo James is also in this movie as David (vampires with names like “David” and “Thomas” are embarrassing vampires, they should all have names like Damien and Abraxas—Lestat gets it) and if Beckinsale looks bored, James looks furious. He has this expression like “f*cking Divergent was supposed to get me out of this” throughout the entire movie. Tywin Lannister also appears and he looks like he’s getting paid. Oh and that guy from Outlander who plays the English officer who’s super into sexual assault is in this movie, too. Google tells me his name is Tobias Menzies. He plays a werewolf leader who is really good at being a werewolf leader because he drinks special vampire blood.
The plot of this movie—haha “plot”—revolves around special blood that Selene has and that dead Scott Speedman had, and their daughter has, and David-Should-Be-Damien has it, too, and probably the third extra in the background, and that guy with one line, and the lady vampire gets the special blood, really, there’s a lot of this special blood going around. Vampires and werewolves—this movie refuses to use the word “werewolf” but I refuse to use the word “lycan”—both want the special blood because somehow it represents ending the war between them when all they really need is some frilly shirts and a good attitude. (Another alternate recommendation: What We Do in the Shadows.)
No one cares what actually happens in these movies, least of all Kate Beckinsale, but there are two positive things about it. One is the costume design by Bojana Nikitovic, who creates some really beautiful garments, particularly for the Viking Vampires that show up halfway through the movie. Unlike their black-clad Goth cousins from the south, the Viking Vampires wear flowy white robes and cool pieces of armor and Nikitovic goes to town on these designs, and they really stand out. So props to her and to the whole wardrobe department, because the Viking Vampires do look cool.
And two, this movie is directed by Anna Foerster, a TV veteran whose credits include Outlander, and who is making her feature film debut. Foerster is saddled with the stupidest story in the universe, but she does her best to make it work. She sets up some nice shots, and she tries to balance all the dumb flashbacks with the current story in a way that isn’t completely mind-numbing. She does seem overmatched by the action element—there’s one sword fight that looks good but the rest of the action is garbage—but some of the not-action parts are almost bearable because her instinct seems to be to let the actors try to camp it up in lieu of anything else going on.
Underworld: Blood Wars is a nonsense movie that barely hangs together and no one seems interested in actually being in it, and it swings between boring “everyone standing in a circle” scenes and laughably bad action sequences, and I don’t really have a “but” here. This is just a bad movie, a total January F*ck You from a studio (Sony) that wants to minimize its losses. There is no reason you should ever watch it.
Here's Kate Beckinsale out for dinner in LA the other night.