Kate Beckinsale

Underworld: Blood Wars

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The vampire death dealer, Selene, is at it again. After the vampire coven that was her home betrayed her she is out on her own. Her only solace is knowing that her daughter is somewhere safe and hidden away from the vampires that would use her blood for their own gain. When a new Lycan leader arises who is determined to find Selene’s daughter she is forced to go back to those who sought to destroy her.

This is the fifth Underworld film of the franchise, including the prequel. I loved the first film, the second film was entertaining as well as the prequel. Once we got to the fourth film things drastically went downhill. It was so dreadful that I completely blocked it from my memory and didn’t remember most of the events when I went into the fifth film. Because of how much I disliked the fourth film, I entered Blood Wars with low expectations.

For the most part the plot of this film held my interest. The Underworld films tend to have a lot of political intrigue, especially within the vampire covens, and this installment was no different. We are introduced to a new leader in the vampire covens, Semira, who is bloodthirsty for power. The twists and turns surrounding her and her desire to become invincible were quite intriguing. There was also a new Lycan leader known as Marius. We are told early on that he is different than previous Lycan leaders, but we do not immediately learn why. It adds a layer of mystery to the plot. The biggest down side to the plot is there are far too many flashbacks in the film. It felt like a third of the film consisted of scenes from the previous movies. Despite this, the filmmakers still added some fun new material. While I wouldn’t say this is an Oscar worthy story, it was enough to make me pay attention.

As with any Underworld film there were a lot of amazing action scenes in Blood Wars. This film was released in 2D and 3D, and I would recommend seeing it in 3D specifically for the fight scenes. I’m not sure if it was just that it had been a while since I watched this franchise, but I felt that this film was much more graphically violent than its predecessors. There is a possibility the filmmakers chose to have more gore to make the 3D more interesting, as they utilized it to emphasize some of the more interesting kills in the film.

Unfortunately, while the 3D made some scenes more interesting, it did not help with the unfortunate CGI. The earlier Underworld films were known for their practical effects and unique creature design. Blood Wars not only over used CGI, but the design they chose for the werewolf, Marius, is downright laughable. They gave him a different look than the other werewolves and it was so ridiculous that it ruined any fight scene his character was in. Overall the effects felt poorly done and ruined a movie heavily laden with CGI. The only effects in the film that were somewhat well done were for the wounds during the more graphic kills.

Underworld: Blood Wars consisted of a number of talented actors. Kate Beckinsale reprised her role as the beautiful and lethal Selene. It blows my mind that she has been playing this role for 14 years and can still kick some ass while wearing a vinyl body suit. Theo James (Divergent) also returned as the vampire, David. David will do anything to help Selene after she saved his life. I’ve never thought of James as an exceptional actor, but I did enjoy his performance in this film. The two main newcomers to this installment were Lara Pulver (True Blood) and Tobias Menzies (Outlander). Pulver plays the cunning Semira. Her performance was one of the more entertaining ones simply because she made her character look like she truly enjoyed being evil and devious. Menzies portrayed the werewolf leader, Marius. In general I am a fan of Menzies, and I know he can play truly vile villains. Sadly his performance in this film made his character seem more like a petulant child than a menacing leader.

If you see Underworld: Blood Wars in theaters, be sure to see it in 3D. It makes what would otherwise be a CGI action film nightmare into something at least somewhat more entertaining. Although I will say you aren’t missing too much if you decide to wait until the film hits Redbox. The action is fun, the plot has a lot of twists and turns, but in reality this installment is only marginally better than the fourth film. The filmmakers are clearly going to make a sixth film. After the last two films I wish they wouldn’t, but I will likely still see the next one when it is released in theaters.

OVERALL RATING: 5/10

The Disappointments Room

A woman and her family move into a decrepit mansion in the countryside after a tragedy. The goal is to spend a year in the quiet rural home while the woman, who is an architect, rebuilds the mansion to its former glory. While going through the house to see what needs to be fixed, the woman finds a strange room in the attic that was not on the floor plan. It doesn’t take long after the room is discovered for strange things to start happening. Is the grieving mother seeing things, or is their new home haunted by something sinister?

While I saw this film several days ago, I didn’t jump to write my review for two reasons: 1. I knew audiences weren’t running to the theaters for this film. 2. This film was so unfortunate that I was dreading writing my review for it. The general idea of this story could have made for a great film. A “disappointments room” is a hidden room in the homes of wealthy people where they would keep their children born with some kind of birth defect. These children would be locked away and kept secret so the family could avoid any embarrassment. This simple idea could have led to an interesting film. Sadly, it did not.

This plot was one of the more convoluted stories I have witnessed in some time. The filmmakers were clearly trying to make it whether the lead was insane or if she was actually seeing ghosts part of the mystery. The problem is that at the end of the film, you still had no idea which one was the truth. The actions of both the lead and the ghosts made absolutely no sense. Consequently, as the screen fades to black, you can’t help but wonder if that was really the ending. There is even a murder shown in the film, and by the time the film is over you’re still unclear as to whether that murder actually happened or not. One aspect that made the plot confusing was the use of flashbacks. Initially, there was some attempt to differentiate flashbacks by using distinct coloring (so you could tell whether it was a flashback from the lead character’s life or the life of the ghosts). However, as the film went on they seemed to stop using any color differentiation, so it was never obvious if things were happening in the past or the present. Also, assuming the ghosts were real, their actions and motivations made no sense. What the ghosts did had me scratching my head, and there was no clear reason why they did these things. The whole story was just a mess of poorly written half-ideas.

The acting in this film wasn’t much better. Kate Beckinsale (Underworld, Total Recall) played the architect and mother, Dana. Normally I’m a fan of Beckinsale. It seemed obvious that she was just phoning it in for this film. There was no real commitment to her role, and as the audience you don’t feel any of her emotions (the horrible blonde hair didn’t help much either). Mel Raido (Legend) was difficult to watch as the loving husband, David. His entire time on screen was spent speaking in the kind of voice one uses to soothe a fussy baby, even when is wife was doing some absolutely insane and horrible things. The fact that both of these actors are also British doing American accents was a bit distracting, as neither of them did a great job of holding the accent.

The Disappointments Room could have been an interesting film, but instead it was a befuddled mess with a title that makes for a great pun. The disjointed story is enough to make you want to walk out of the theater. It also tried so hard to be scary, but when you don’t understand what you’re supposed to be afraid of the “scares” fall flat. This film would have had a lower score, but I’m giving it a couple points for 3 reasons. Firstly, I like the idea of a disappointment room, and I hope another filmmaker takes this idea and runs with it. Second, I liked the opening scene. It was funny and unexpectedly adorable. Finally, I like the exposition scene where Dana is learning about what a disappointment room is from a woman who likely would have been in one of those rooms had she been born during that time. Other than those minor details, there were not many redeeming qualities to this film. It was not a film I would recommend to viewers, nor would I ever watch it again myself.

OVERALL RATING: 2/10