Underworld: Blood Wars

It’s rare to have your favourite entry in a franchise be the fifth sequel, but here we are. Underworld: Blood Wars is most likely the most imaginative effort in the franchise and does a few key things that the others don’t, which I’ll get to in a minute. As expected, the tireless war between vampires rages ever on, as aristocratic vamp elder Thomas (Charles Dance) waffles about on a proper battle plan while mutinous underlings grow restless in his ranks. On the Lycan side of things, new and more organized warlord Marius (Tobias Menzies) rallies the Wolf clans for an attack that poses real threat. Meanwhile Selene (Kate Beckinsale) is perpetually exiled from both races, existing on the fringes where she searches for the daughter she never new she had until Thomas begrudgingly asks for her help in the impending wars. It’s strictly politics and expository setup until the story really kicks off, which is when it becomes one for the books. The action, gore and choreography is wonderful as ever here but what really makes it stand out and what might be my favourite sequence of the whole franchise is Selenes breathtaking journey to the Arctic to request shelter with a mysterious coven of Nordic snow vampires. How cool is that??!! The whole franchise we have this his buttoned down, black leather bureaucrat baroque vampire aesthetic with muted colours and droll performances and suddenly theres this blast of inspiration in the mythology and we are treated to new facets of lore we feel Ike we already know so well. The Nordic clan have an ethereal elvish aura to them with very elemental costumes and an ice castle hideout that has an airy, artsy look to it, there’s just nothing else like them anywhere else in the franchise and I *loved* the creative choices made here. Additionally, Selene goes through quite an intense hurdle here battling Marius and at one point, without spoiling too much, she undergoes a sort of Gandalf The White visual transformation and character arc here complete with a fur adorned outfit, wintery white hair highlights and an epic Deus Ex Machina third act mix drop moment that had me cheering. There’s also genuine pathos in her quest to find her daughter, an emotional resonance that isn’t often found in this film, so often full of sound, fury, blood, bullets and fur. Breathtaking film.

-Nate Hill

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