That this movie has released in India a full month before its American release, tells you a story. The makers seem to be testing the waters. The truth is that the fifth installment of the Underworld franchise is virtually unwatchable. Continuing with the tale of an unending war between Vampires and Lycans (Werewolves), the films ran out of steam a long time ago and started running on obsession and fresh air. With the first film, starring Kate Beckinsale as the lead Vampire, Selene, the series became cult entertainment, and the subsequent editions created obsessively devoted fans who kept the commerce of the franchise going.
Though ‘Blood Wars’ is set in post modern times, the visual design is medieval. The look is that of a movie about warlords in England and Scotland, fighting for power and Kingship. There are various disunited and disgruntled factions among the Vampires, and Selene is struggling to bring them together so that they can vanquish the Lycans, who are a bit like foreign invaders of an ancient and crumbling Empire. Also, the sheer number of British actors in this movie, reinforces this sense of a battle for power in Britain.
English accents dominate the film, from Charles Dance, formerly of the Royal Shakespeare Company, playing a Vampire ‘Elder’, to Lara Pulver, who was in the BBC TV adaptation, ’ Sherlock’, here playing Semira, a shrew who controls alpha males for dominance and sexual pleasure. Provocatively dressed, with a plunging neckline that goes down to her waist, Semira needs frequent doses of red blood from blue blooded Vampires to keep her energy up. The battles, curiously, are fought in medieval castles with swords, even though guns and other modern weaponry is freely available.
The problem with the film is its sheer predictability. The Vampires are going to triumph of course, but the repetition of identically choreographed sword fights is monotonous. With little conversation between actors, one fight follows on the heels of another so quickly, that at times you lose track of who has killed whom, and who has miraculously revived from grievous wounds. The film passes in a blur of blood letting, interrupted only by sessions of convivial blood drinking from lovely looking goblets. It appears, for all the world, that the vampires are intoxicated with the finest red wine from the best vineyards. And in order to drink, they have to fight.
Frankly, this movie is not recommended for anyone, except, perhaps, a die hard cultist.