“You are an extremely difficult person to keep track of,” Theo James’ vampire David informs Kate Beckinsale’s fellow bloodsucker Selene early in this big screen debut from TV director Anna Foerster (Outlander, Criminal Minds). Much the same could be said of the convoluted battle between vampires and werewolves depicted in the Underworld movies, of which Blood Wars is the fifth, but the first since 2012’s Underworld: Awakening. Helpfully, the film offers an explanatory prologue—a sort of “Previously on Underworld!”—which brings viewers up to speed before embarking on a new set of twists, turns, and dubious CG lycanthrope transformations.
This time around, we learn that the series’ aristocratic vamps are in dire straits and recruit Selene to train up their soldiers in preparation for the upcoming showdown with the more rough-and-ready werewolves, whose leader Marius (Tobias Menzies) is desperate to get his paws on the blood of Selene’s daughter.
The Underworld films have always been less a horror franchise than a Game of Thrones-esque fantasy saga, and Blood Wars leans into that aspect of the series, helped by the presence of both Menzies and Charles Dance, who plays the father of James’ character and somehow manages to enunciate the lines “There’s more than one way to move around this coven!” while keeping a straight face. Maybe he shouldn’t have bothered. What this series lacks is a sense of humor, or at least a winking acknowledgment of its own inherent ludicrousness, to leaven the blue-hued monster-versus-monster shenanigans.
In GoT terms, the movies are all duels and no Dinklage. Underworld: Blood Wars continues in that same vein. While the film may justify its title in terms of the viscera on display, it is badly in need of a funny bone. C-