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Underworld: Blood Wars - Film Review

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by Georgina Tselekidis (subscribe)
Freelancer and aspiring journalist from Adelaide. Visual Arts graduate & current journalism student. Fashion, lifestyle, entertainment, art & food. I also write for The Adelaidian //
Published December 13th 2016
The long-lasting battle between lycans & vampires continues
The fifth instalment of Underworld is here, and if you have been a fan of the sequel since it's beginnings, then you are in for a treat. The action horror series dates back to 2003 and tells the story of Selene (Kate Beckinsale), a notorious vampire who works as a 'death dealer', killing the lycans (werewolves) for allegedly slaughtering her family, thus creating a historical war between both worlds. The fifth installment sees Selene hunted by the lycan clan, and those from her own world that betrayed her, leaving her with only two allies - David (Theo James) and his father Thomas (Charles Dance), who seek to stop the long-lasting war between lycans and vampires. Underworld: Blood Wars is just what the title says - gory, intense, and uninhibited. Although it doesn't stand up to it's earlier prequels, it still provides several moments of thrilling and gripping action-packed scenes.

Director Anna Foester and writer Cory Goodman set the cold and desolate atmosphere from the get-go, encompassing this mystical and ethereal world where both the vampires and lycans reside. Although every film from the Underworld franchise has been directed by varying names, there is a familiar otherworldly ambience that successfully ties into each. However, in comparison to the prequels, Blood Wars feels really distant from achieving any emotional response, as the characters don't possess prominent bonds like they once did, making it difficult to build a connection to the characters who are at war with one another. Evidently, the main focus of Blood Wars is this ongoing fight that Selene intends to stop once and for all, with a lot of blood spilt amidst it all, of course. But if you haven't seen the previous films, it's easy to feel a little lost because of the lack of context given throughout the film. Therefore, I suggest watching them all before heading to the cinema.

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With her figure hugging latex bodysuit, combat boots and resilient attitude, Kate Beckinsale may be one of the many reasons Underworld has become such a highly rated franchise. Perhaps a stand out of Beckinsale's performance is her ability to pick up right where she left off, this time with a yearning to see the world through new eyes. She adds another dimension to her character that fans haven't seen before, conveying a fragile characteristic that doesn't seem to exist in her previous appearances where she instinctively takes control of every situation without a problem. On that note, the film definitely steps into a new direction and away from the traditional vampire concept of living in the middle-ages, as medieval tones are combined with futuristic and contemporary features to give a refreshing spin. In particular, the peculiar immersion therapy sanctuary that is reminiscent of some arctic style spa - who knew vampires had blonde hair and dressed in white? Likewise, Lara Pulver is undoubtedly a major key player, who does a particularly good job of playing the traitorous vampire elder Semira, and possibly the only character to really evoke any sort of emotion out of the viewer, even if it is feelings of shock and disgust (she does some pretty awful things).

The story brings feelings of escalating apprehension, with longer scene sequences to create a buildup of this war between both worlds. But as the film progresses and the action unfolds, the viewer is certainly taken along for the ride. The fast-paced scene changes are unexpected, so you may be faced with a dismembered appendage at any given moment, adding another element of anticipation of course. The choice to shoot in Prague, Czech Republic definitely paid off though, and I couldn't think of a more perfect place to set the scene of a vampire world. Comprising Gothic and ornately constructed buildings, winding roadways, snowy and cool conditions, and an overall picturesque charm, there are a number of rather beautifully captured scenes throughout the film.

Blood Wars doesn't necessarily make an impact that is worth discussing over a cup of coffee, but it still manages to take aback the viewer, even if the scenes are at times too blood-fueled to handle.
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Why? Another addition to the Underworld film series
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