Welcome to The Mundane Adventures of a Fangirl

I consider myself a Fangirl. What does that mean, you ask? A "fanboy" in the most common understanding is a hardcore fan of 'genre' based entertainment in particular. In my case - science-fiction and comic book based movies and television. Because I'm a chick - it's fangirl, not fanboy. There you have it! I am a big movie fan, however, not necessarily a 'film' fan. And now - I have the forum to present my opinions to the public! These will mainly be movie reviews -that will always be my opinion - repeat OPINION. Just what I think, and in no way do I present my opinion as fact. I hope you enjoy and maybe it will help you decide what to see at the movie theater this weekend!

Thursday, January 12, 2017

Movie Review: Underworld Blood Wars (R – 91 minutes)

You may not believe it, but this is the fifth movie in the Underworld Series. 

In 2003, Director Len Wiseman teamed up with stuntman/microbiologist Kevin Grevioux to come up with a vampire/werewolf story basing the transformations on viruses in the blood.  In the story, way back in the day, there was one guy (Alexander Corvinus) who had two sons, one bitten by a bat (Marcus), and one bitten by a wolf (William), and their descendants carried the diseases and spread them, leading to a huge amount of vampires and werewolves (Lycans).

In the first movie, Underworld – we are introduced to Selene – she’s a “death dealer”, a warrior in a vampire clan who hunts Lycans, which is a job she loves.  The movie was a bit of a surprise, and could have been a B movie throw-away (and some might say it is), but I loved it.  The Lycan effects are all mostly practical, with some really amazing prosthetics.  The story is simple – Selene is perfectly happy killing Lycans, having been told by her adopted vampire ‘father’ Victor that they killed her family.  The vampires have decided to extend the power of their ruling family by having three elders, and having two of them in vampire-style comas while one of them is awake.  Amelia is awake, with Victor and Marcus asleep.  Spoiler alert – Selene learns that the Lycans are actually victims in the scenario, and that Victor killed her family.   Lucian, the head of the Lycans, is working on mounting a revenge mission against Victor – since he had once enslaved the Lycans, and killed Lucian’s love – Victor’s own daughter Sonja - because she dared get pregnant with a hybrid baby!  Selene encounters Michael Corvin, who the Lycans are hunting because he’s a direct descendant of the ‘Corvinus’ line and his blood will help them get stronger and win the ‘war’. 

Underworld Evolution was released in 2006, and deals with the repercussions of Selene and Michael starting up a relationship, her killing Victor, and Amelia being killed by the Lycans, but only because they were given instructions by Kraven – a vampire attempting a coup.    Only Marcus is left, and he gets woken up and is very angry about things in general. He’s also mostly bat – again, with some amazing bat prosthetics.  Michael is getting better about controlling his half vampire/half Lycan transformation, and so the two of them end up actually finding the original Corvinus (played by Derek Jacobi if you can believe that!), and attempting to evade both Lycans and vampires.

The third movie in the series is Underworld: Rise of the Lycans from 2009.  Chronologically, this one is actually first as this is the flashback movie that tells the story of Lucian’s birth, capture, romance with Sonja, and then leading a Lycan uprising once Sonja gets murdered by her father.  Honestly, this one is probably my favorite.  It has the medieval setting, and more Bill Nighy, Michael Sheen, and Kevin Grevioux himself as Raze.  It may be an excuse for these fairly big time actors to get more time to play some fun roles after they were all killed in the first movie. 

The fourth movie, Underworld Awakenings,  brings back Selene, waking up after being captured by humans who have finally become aware that this vampire/werewolf war is going on.  Michael is missing and so is their hybrid child – which she didn’t know she had!  Selene teams up with Michael Ealy to help track down her daughter, who of course some Lycans are after – to use her blood to create super Lycans – while also getting help from vampire David, but not his angry vampire father, Thomas.

That brings us up to date, and to Underworld Blood Wars.  Selene is on the run.  Her clan is gone – and since she loved being a death dealer so much, she’s really not sure what to do. Her daughter is in hiding, and even Selene doesn’t know where she is.  David is following her around, because she saved his life last movie.  Meanwhile, a new leader, Marius, has taken over the Lycans – and he’s organizing them like they’ve never been organized before!

Semira, a vampire with some aspirations to rule, has pushed her way onto the council of the Eastern clan.  She and her henchman/cunnilingus provider, Varga, have invited Thomas to the mansion/castle they all live in to ask him to get David to get Selene to come in and train the new group of death dealers to prepare for this incoming wave of Lycans.  Varga’s not all that thrilled about that idea, since he thinks he can train them just fine.  David communicates this to Selene, and since she’s got nothing better to do, she heads to the home of the Eastern clan – a huge castle-like mansion which is filled with vampires that only wear black.

Upon arrival, Selene agrees to help Cassius, Semira, and the other council members.  She begins training the death dealers, but is swiftly betrayed by Semira – who is apparently still holding a grudge about her killing Victor – even though that was like four movies ago.  

Well, Semira has Varga kill the death-dealer recruits so they can blame Selene and the council will want to kill her.  Semira attempts to drain her blood, since it’s really powerful.  David and Thomas bust in to save her, and Thomas sacrifices himself so that they can get away.

Thomas told them to go north to hide, to a Scandinavian clan of Vampires who pretty much stay out of everyone else’s affairs.  Selene and David arrive at their castle on a mountain while Alexia – an up and coming death dealer in the Eastern Clan – is secretly meeting with Marius to give him all the details of what Semira is up to.  The amount of double crosses in this movie is really tough to keep up with.  Selene and David find that this northern clan has all the white vampire clothes, which must be why the Easter clan dresses all in black.  Lena, one of these northern vampires, has some weird teleport-y type powers based on the water? I’m not entirely sure how that works.  They also have been holding on to a drop of Amelia’s blood that she left for David (did I not mention that the vampires can see other’s memories by tasting their blood?), because as it turns out – she was his mother, so he’s of the royal line or whatever.

Alexia definitely led the Lycans to the castle, and they attack – wiping out a lot of the white-wearing vampires.  Meanwhile, Selene and Marius fight on the ice outside, and we get the idea that he’s maybe been dosing himself with something, because he’s bigger and stronger than most Lycans and able to get into Lycan form, with a regular Marius head, which is very unsettling.  With Alexia’s help, Marius is able to beat Selene pretty badly, and she seems to die and slide under the ice. Alexia tastes Selene’s blood, and realizes she was telling the truth about not knowing where her daughter, Eve, is. They decide to go attack the Eastern clan.

David heads back down, proves to the council that he’s Amelia’s son and Semira is actually the bad guy. The council locks her up instead of killing her, and David gets everyone ready just as Marius and crew attack.  There’s a pretty bloody battle, and things are going badly for the vampires since the Lycans brought a cannon-type deal that is punching holes in the wall and letting the sunlight in.  Just as things start looking hopeless, Selene comes back with the newly gained teleport-y type powers, some new white-blond highlights in her hair, a brand new white coat, and all the battle-prepped white vampires from the north as backup. She corners Marius and rips out his spine, but not before learning his special powers are because he captured and killed her love, Michael.

The story ends with David and Selene in line to become the new vampire elders along with Lena as Selene has visions of Eve.  Len Wiseman has already confirmed there will be a sixth and final movie – so I would assume the last movie will be Selene hunting for Eve and then finally ending the war?

This one is directed by Anna Foerster, who has directed episodes of Outlander, Madame Secretary, and Criminal Minds.  She started her career as a director of photography for Roland Emmerich, and there are definitely some sweeping large shots that have an Emmerich-type feel in this movie. I will say that it was really heavy on exposition, vampire family drama, and double crosses.  There were also a lot of characters to keep straight, some new and some old.  It felt a bit choppy throughout, jumping from scene to scene really quickly.  All that considered, I still really enjoyed it, but I’m partial to these movies. I love when everyone in it seems to be having a really good time doing something silly.

  • Kate Beckinsale is back as Selene in her black leather to hunt Lycans.  She has said how much she loves doing these movies, playing a bad-ass werewolf hunter.  She’s perfectly capable, and hey – if I looked that good in a leather jumpsuit, I would wear it all the time.

  • Theo James returns as David, doing his very best to assist Selene while dealing with the revelation about his mother.

  • Tobias Menzies plays Marius. He’s definitely a guy you recognize from Outlander, Game of Thrones, and The Night Manager. I first noticed him in Rome.  Here, he does a good job of being an obsessed Lycan who finally gets all these werewolves together with a goal, but really, the werewolf body with his head was weird.

  • Lara Pulver plays Semira, and I recognized her most from Sherlock, where she played Irene Adler.  She’s just the right touch of vampy evil in this. Her costumes do half the work, but she sasses through the movie.   

  • Charles Dance plays Thomas for a little while, until he sacrifices himself to let David and Selene escape. He’s elegant and always has a touch of evil around him, but he’s pretty fun in this. Again – the wardrobe does half his work.

  • James Faulkner plays vampire council member Cassius, and his job is really just to be gloomy and glowery until David shows up to prove he’s royalty.

  • Peter Andersson plays Vidar – the head vampire of the northern clan who has a whole bunch of pertinent exposition secrets on hand for a guy we are just learning exists five movies in.
  • Clementine Nicholson plays Lena – and while I may not understand how the whole water-burial-gives-me-teleporty-powers thing works, she’s very interesting and has a great outfit – very Viking.

  • Bradley James plays Varga, and his main job is to hang around and roll his eyes.  He was a bit of a tool until he betrayed Semira at the end and tried to help David.

  • Daisy Head plays Alexia, and her double cross was so unexpected to me since we had already had a double cross.  I’m also not sure it did her any good, since letting the Lycans into the Eastern Clan’s castle really wiped everybody out.

Overall, it was not great, but I really enjoyed it. Funny how that can work sometimes!  The werewolves are less practical then they used to be, but they still look pretty good. The vampires are still really goth, hanging out in their castles and believing that they are better than everybody else around them.  I’m really looking forward to the next one, can’t wait to see what Eve has been up to and who has been double-crossing her.

6 out of 10 – gained points for the introduction of a new vampire clan. Lost points because they still refuse to wear any color.  Here’s hoping the next movie introduces a clan of vampires that wear all the colors.

Cast Interviews; 
Bonus - Cinema Sins - Everything wrong with Underworld...but be sure to watch all of them, I'm only putting one here.

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