It’s 2017, so I’m excited to start reviewing 2017 movies! Even the reviews I have released since the beginning of the year have been for 2016 films, so it’s kind of exciting to talk about Underworld: Blood Wars! January is notorious for being a vast wasteland when it comes to movies, but I always hope to have some fun. Let’s see if Underworld: Blood Wars was the beginning of that fun!
Underworld: Blood Wars is directed by Anna Foerster and stars Kate Beckinsale, Theo James, Tobias Menzies, Lara Pulver, and Charles Dance. One of the most fierce killers named Selene is back and trying to end the war between the Lycans and the Vampires. The Lycans are after her daughter who has a rare blood type that is a hybrid of Lycans and Vampires, thus making it incredibly valuable blood. Selene has no idea where her daughter is despite the fact that everyone seems to think that she does.
Well, it’s January. Let’s move aside so that we can welcome it in. I don’t think I’m shocking anyone by saying that this isn’t a very good movie. It’s not even the fun and enjoyable time that I was hoping for. If I had to pick a few positives, this movie does a good job of putting the audience in this world. A lot of the film takes place in the bitter cold, and I could almost feel that coming from the screen. I could also laugh at a couple of scenes that show some relatively creative ways to kill a vampire or a werewolf (or the equivalent of a werewolf). After that, it’s all down hill. Starting from the top, this movie is so poorly directed and edited that it gets to a point where the entire thing is just sloppy and annoying. All this film really needed was decent action, and the choppy and snappy angle changes and cuts showed that they weren’t really sure how they could get that. Next, this movie feels like a lot of noise. On top of the poorly shot action sequences, the sound mixing and editing with the sound effects are so overwhelming. They’re poorly timed, and they make most of the war sequences a big, jumbled mess of noises, growls, and groans. Next, there’s way too much dialogue in this film. I’m sure that the people making this movie knew they weren’t intending to make a masterpiece, so they should have aimed for fun. Instead, we get so much dialogue piled on top of more dialogue explaining mythology I really don’t care about. It’s not quite the amazingly bad dialogue between vampires and werewolves that the Twilight series had, but it’s still lore that I don’t really care about, and I was waiting for them to get to Theo James cutting werewolves in half. I think Theo James could be a solid action star if he’s paired with a good director. He’s not on his way to the Oscars or anything, but if he’s in a dumb, fun action movie, I think he could do well.
There are a lot of smaller details in the film that made me feel like the good folks at CinemaSins, but I’ll let them handle the “sins” if they ever decide to make a video on this film. I’ll still touch on a few I want to talk about. First, there is a long tracking shot of a man walking on a dock. Now, tracking shots and continuous takes are almost never a bad thing, but if there’s only going to be one in a film, why use it on a man walking on a dock? It’s not building suspense or showing us anything about him. We don’t even see his face. I just have to wonder why the director thought it was a great idea to have a continuous take from behind a man simply walking that leads into a scene that I can’t even remember at this point. Next, the first shot of an extremely powerful character is a shot that pans from his feet to his face. Ordinarily, I think that we’re about to see someone who is going to be a big name and an ominous villain. Instead, the man is a side protagonist played by an actor I don’t really know. I’m not saying that any of these actors would make a better fit for the role, but imagine panning from the feet to the face and revealing the character is played by Christoph Waltz or Kevin Spacey. That’s something that would plant a seed and give the audience a feel for the character’s presence.
Overall, this movie should have been something where I could turn my brain off, and it turned out to be a gigantic mess. It’s really poorly directed and edited, and it turned out to just be annoying. The sound mixing and editing was oddly timed, and the sound took over with loud sound effects that took away from what this movie could have been from a visual perspective. There’s also too much dialogue. I wanted enjoyable action scenes, but we get scene after scene explaining lore that I didn’t really care about. It’s a January film, so I guess this should have been expected.