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Title: Underworld: Blood Wars

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

HTS Overall Score:76

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:
“Blood Wars” was supposedly shot on a 6K sourced Digital camera and then finished for a proper 4K D.I. (which will benefit the 4K UHD disc nicely). It looks very similar to “Awakening” and the rest of the “Underworld” franchise, allowing dark blues and greys to dominate the films color spectrum. Splashes of bright red CGI blood speckle the film as well as the whites of the Nordic vampire clans, but for the most part it has a nice blue/grey look to it. Fine detailing is excellent, showing although I noticed Selene has a teensy bit of digital smoothing done to her face (most likely to hide the signs of her natural aging, something her character doesn’t really do). Blacks are excellent from beginning to end, but sometimes I noticed a flicker of banding around light sources (usually man made lights vs. the natural flame lighting in the catacombs). Skin tones are a bit cool, but very natural looking and overall the image is quite stunning to look at.

Audio :4.5stars:
Once again Sony has decided to keep the Atmos track for the 4K UHD disc and leaves the Blu-ray with a standard 5.1 DTS-HD MA audio experience. And once again that isn’t a horrible thing. While I would love the Blu-ray viewers to experience the full Atmos experience the 5.1 mix is REALLY good. 5/5 material in reality but with the Atmos track edging it out ever so slightly (I’ll expound on that in the 4K review) I’m forced to give it a 4.5/5. Much like all the other “Underworld” movies “Blood Wars” is a VERY bass heavy mix, although I feel it is much better tonally balanced than “Awakening”, which I felt was very boomy and overcooked. Vocals are crisp and clear while the surrounds are in constant use with all sorts of sounds dotting soundstage. Bullets ricochet off of back walls and knife blades whistle through the air and impact in the rear of the listener. Directional cues shift at will and the entire experience just feels amazingly enveloping.

Extras :2.5stars:

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

Overall: :3.5stars:

“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. 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 AVC
Audio: English: DTS-HD MA 5.1, 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

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