Review: 'Underworld: Blood Wars' proves that the franchise should die

Posted Monday, April 24, 2017 at 10:53 AM Central
Last updated Monday, April 24, 2017 at 10:57 AM Central

by John Couture

There's an old saying in rock n roll, would you rather burn out or fade away? The general idea is would you rather die at the peak of your game like Kurt Cobain, Jimi Hendrix, Janis Joplin and Jim Morrison or to live out a long life where you come to realize that you have become a has-been?

There are merits to both arguments, but when it comes to movies, sometimes you just need to know when to call it quits. Entertainment properties only retain value when they continue to entertain their audience. As time goes by, the quality of the product predictably deteriorates for any number of reasons and the end result shows on the big screen.

I will admit, I loved the first two Underworld films. I mean, what's not to love? Kate Beckinsale in tight-fitting leather outfits. Don't judge, it was a different time. All joking aside, the Underworld films brought a stylized take on the whole vampire/werewolf mythology that was all the rage in the early 2000s thanks mainly to The Matrix.

The added element of a Romeo and Juliet romance was a nice, if a bit predictable touch, but it helped to humanize the story about rival factions of monsters. Because, let's face it, once you completely lose the humanity in a film, it just doesn't resonate as strongly with the audience.

And this is where Underworld: Blood Wars comes in.

At this point, I should probably put a disclaimer out there that I have not seen the third or fourth movie in the franchise. I did go back and read up on them and watch the trailers in preparation for reviewing this film, but I couldn't bring myself to actually watch them in whole. From the general consensus, I saved myself plenty of time and trauma.

I mean, heck, even Kate Beckinsale stepped away from the franchise for the third film, so I think I deserve a pass. The good thing is that every Underworld film starts with enough exposition to set every literary heart aflutter, so it doesn't take long to get up to speed on whatever I have missed. As it turns out, it's not that much anyhow. Selene and Michael had a kid named Eve and she's sort of a big deal (obviously). Michael sort of dies, but is any death in this series short of decapitation or total spinal displacement ever really final?

As it turns out, not really. And that's the sad thing about this film. Sometimes, you should really just leave something dead and not try to bring it back to life. While I thought the first two films were pretty good, you could tell by the end of the second one that the story had been stretched to its absolutely thinnest possible point. Three films later, whatever goodwill the franchise had scored with audiences is long gone.

That's not to say that the film is completely unwatchable because there are several fun spots in the movie, but they are far outnumbered by the unsavory ones. Anytime that Selene confronts Marius in battle, the film shows its most promise. It's obvious that they knew these would be the moments that audiences would be talking about. Of course, it's also the reason that they are in all the trailers.

The storyline of Eve and the value of her blood to both Lycans and Vampires is a good one and probably one that should end the franchise, but it's only teased at in this film, presumably setting up yet another sequel where it finally take center stage. But, at that point, will anyone be there to watch it?

Underworld: Awakening, the previous film in the franchise, was a surprise box office hit, becoming the highest-grossing film in the franchise thanks to Kate Beckinsale's return, but Underworld: Blood Wars' paltry $30 million box office is less than half of Awakening's box office take.

If that's not a big enough sign for the franchise, then I don't know what is. At the end of the day, it's time to finally a stake or silver bullet through the heart of the Underworld franchise and put it out of its misery. It was an entertaining series, but it's time to move on.