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Title: Underworld: Blood Wars

Movie: :2stars:
Video: :4.5stars:
Audio: :5stars:
Extras: :2.5stars:

HTS Overall Score:80

Uhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhh-huh. Looking back, it feels kind of surreal watching this latest “Underworld” film. The original “Underworld” was actually a first date movie for my wife and I about 14 years ago (has it really been that long?) and we absolutely LOVED the film. So much so that I pretty much burned myself out from vampire fatigue by the time the third movie came out (which was a surprisingly good prequel). The 4th movie in the franchise was easily the weakest of the series and I thought it had tanked enough at the box office to make sure we never got a sequel, but here we are years later and a ANOTHER one is descending upon us all. Let me clear this up, I was in NO way ragging on the first three films. All three of them schlocky “emo” gothic fun with vampires and werewolves, but the 4th felt like a low budget knockoff with way too many characters missing from the picture. Unfortunately, It seems like there is no more blood to be drained from this turnip and “Blood Wars” stumbles along gasping on fumes for ideas.

Yes, our favorite death dealer is back. Selene has been in hiding for years since the events of “Underworld: Awakening” and has been trying to stay off the grid after sending her overly powerful hybrid daughter away. Now the Lycans are back and they’re out for MORE blood. Selene’s (Kate Beckinsale) daughter’s blood in fact. Since she’s a hybrid with enormous power they naturally want her blood to super power their packs and give them advantage needed in taking over the Vampire covens. So far, they have been able to take out most of the major covens, but the vampire council still have the most sacred and ancient one intact. The one that gives them their base of operations and power over the Lycans. As luck would have it, Selene may be the only key to saving their race. Even though the ex Death Dealer is being hunted by the covens for justice against Viktor and Maurius, they agree to bring her in to the fold once more in order to train their new Death Dealers in ways to defeater the Lycans (due to her enormous powers gained from the last several movies).

As these things go, Selene is betrayed by Councilwoman Semira (Lara Pulver) and barely escapes with her life thanks to vampire David (Theo James reprising his role from the last movie). Both on the run from the Lycans AND the vampire council, David and Seline go for the only place that will give them sanctuary. A hidden vampire coven in the Nordic region that has isolated themselves from the rest of the covens and live in peace. There they will find the strength to go on, and gain even more unimaginable powers to put an end to this Lycan/Werewolf conflict once and for all.

“Underworld: Blood Wars” is pretty much the very definition of squeezing blood out of turnip. There is no more juice left ANYWHERE in the franchise, but they keep milking it dry for some apparent reason. “Blood Wars” looked kind of cool from the trailer, but it’s obvious from the first 20 minutes that there is nothing new under the sun (or moon as is the case here). The level of ridiculous is raised to a whole new height as Selene goes to the Nordic coven, completes the obvious trials, and then levels up her abilities one more time to gain the awesome new power that will turn her from semi deity into just plane god. Almost feels like an RPG or an episode of Dragonball Z in fact.

Even if you watch the recap at the beginning of the movie most people who haven’t kept the series fresh in their minds will be a little lost. Nothing is really explained about the previous installments, but the entire film is basically a continuation of the last movie, issues with daughter and all. Except this time the budget has been slashed and characters that were hinted at returning get side lined and we’re left with a re-trade of the whole Michael and Lucien plot from the first film except on a much smaller scale. The one thing that will truly tick off the die hard “Underworld” fans is how Michael is handled in the film. It was teased that he would be coming into the next installment in “Awakening”, but Scott Speedman refused to reprise his role and thus he was rumored to re-cast. However, the Lycan/Vampire hybrid is sidelined the ENTIRE film and handled in a matter of 3 sentences, leaving you sitting there with jaw on your lap asking yourself “so this is how they are completing that arc?”. The series is very obviously setup for a 6th film (and will get one from what I hear considering the movie made its budget and then some), but I don’t have much hope for the future considering how little left there is of the franchise to mine.

Rated R for strong bloody violence, and some sexuality

Video :4.5stars:
As I said in my Blu-ray review, “Underworld: Blood Wars” was filmed in 6K on digital cameras and transferred to 4K where the master was struck from, so the increase from Blu-ray to 4K UHD is more than appreciable. The film is not overly vibrant and colorful, sticking to a Blue/grey color palette, but the uptick in noticeable clarity and resolution is very appealing. The stone walls of the catacombs show off some great textural details, while the flickering flames and blood splashes benefit from the added HDR. The brilliant whites of the Nordic realm benefit the most in that aspect and the banding that was present on the Blu-ray seems to have faded away. The only “complaint” I might have is that the jump isn’t AS noticeable as some of the demo discs on UHD. There is a mild softness that follows the film in 4K, but it is nothing major and is a very solid upgrade form the 1080p Blu-ray

Audio :5stars:
The Atmos track is just as good as the 5.1 DTS-HD MA mix, but just…..better. Everything that the 5.1 mix does well the Atmos mix just enhances ever so slightly. The surrounds feel more impressive with the sounds of bullets and blades bouncing off the wall, and the overheads use a decent amount of activity as Lycans jump overhead and Selene and Marius jump off of icy waterfalls. Bass is a little cleaner and the whole experience just feels a bit “fuller”. The 5.1 mix is REALLY good, so when I say that the jump from 5.1 to Atmos isn’t WILDLY noticeable I mean that as a compliment to the 5.1 mix as this track is just a little bit better.

Extras :2.5stars:

• Official Movie Graphic Novel*
• Four Featurettes:
- "The Evolution of Selene"
- "Building a Blood War"
- "Old & New Blood"
- "The Evil Evolved"

Overall: :4stars:

“Underworld: Blood Wars” is probably no worse or better than “Awakening”, so if you liked that entry into the franchise then you should have a solid amount of fun here. If you were completely bored with “Awakening”, as I was, then “Blood Wars” will be a bit of a chore to get through. Imagination is nearly nil, and the entire series feels like it’s a high budget DTV film with some classic characters. Kate Beckinsale wasn’t too enthused to go back to the role by all accounts, and her enthusiasm shows as she slices and dices through her victims with a bored look upon her face. Theo James doesn’t help much as he’s nothing but eye candy in most movies, and the back stabbing and betrayal of Semira feels old and overly worn out. Audio and Video are naturally amazing, and the extras are pretty good so in that regard the package does quite well. The 4K UHD disc is definitely a worthy upgrade to the Blu-ray as it shows increases in both audio and video that are rather noticeable. Supposedly this was slated to have a 3D disc included, but at the last minute was pulled from the press release (it was shown in 3D theatrically and many of the shots definitely show that they were composed for that format). As for a recommendation, stick a fork in it, the series is done.

Additional Information:

Starring: Kate Beckinsale, Theo James, Tobias Menzies
Directed by: Anna Foerster
Written by: Cory Goodman, Kyle Ward
Aspect Ratio: 2.40:1 HEVC
Audio: English: Dolby Atmos (Dolby TrueHD 7.1 Core), French DTS-HD MA 5.1
Studio: Sony
Rated: R
Runtime: 91 Minutes
Blu-ray Release Date: April 25th, 2017

Buy Underworld: Blood Wars On Blu-ray at Amazon
Buy Underworld: Blood Wars On 4K Blu-ray at Amazon

Recommendation: Stick a fork in it, the series is done

More about Mike

1,546 Posts
Truth be told, I stopped watching the Underworld series after the 3rd one (I think), although my interest is always piqued whenever they come out. I'm usually slightly hopeful that the movies will eventually get better and make it worth watching again. Aside from the technical merits of the home release, it doesn't sound like this one is faring any better on that front...
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