The new movie year has just gifted us with its first indisputable film fiasco. Don't you just love January – the official burial ground for Hollywood cinematic sins against art and entertainment. OK, my expectations were low for Underworld: Blood Wars. But scraping bottom would be a step up for this fifth chapter in the series, which inexplicably retains a loyal box-office following. Go figure. It was less than a year ago that Kate Beckinsale was giving the performance of her career in Whit Stillman’s gorgeously literate Love & Friendship. Now the British actress is back in a vampire series so dull-witted and trite that it might explain the blank stare she uses here in place of a performance. Look, even beautiful, talented actresses need paychecks.
For those who know nothing of the Underworld universe (and how I envy you!), Beckinsale – looking hot as ever in shiny black leather – again plays Selene, a vampire Death Dealer, a.k.a. the fighting elite among bloodsuckers. She's still caught in the middle of the blood wars between vampires and lycans (wolves). Tobias Menzies plays Marius, the new leader of the wolf pack and a dude so EVIL he wants to kidnap Selene's daughter for his own power-mad purposes. Luckily, our heroine still has David (Theo James), from the last film, on her side. It's too bad no one on the creative team sided with the audience. Don't we deserve more than incompetent acting, an incoherent plot and CGI so bad it looks like your Uncle Harry shot it with his relic of a smartphone?
I had a bit of hope, what with Outlander's Anna Foerster in the director's seat. But Foerster, like everyone else In this surprise-free enterprise, has been hired to deliver banal business as usual. At that, they succeed. Like the four franchise fillers that preceded it, Underworld: Blood Wars is undoubtedly impervious to bad reviews. What it needs is a stake through the heart.