Underworld: Blood Wars
Kate Beckinsale is back and as underserved as ever by this tedious fifth instalment in the horror franchise
Debut director and former Roland Emmerich protégée Anna Foerster takes the reins of the fifth instalment in the underwhelming Underworld franchise, which finds Kate Beckinsale once again at the centre of the seemingly never-ending war between vampires and werewolves. Foerster's injection of new blood fails to rejuvenate the franchise, which remains as tedious as ever thanks to a dismal screenplay and a stultifying lack of imagination.
This time round, gun-toting Death Dealer Selene (Beckinsale, donning the latex catsuit once again) makes an uneasy alliance with her former coven (led by Charles Dance as Thomas), who fear an attack from new Lycan leader Marius (Tobias Menzies). When Selene learns that Marius intends to weaponise blood from her hybrid daughter Eve (who disappeared at the end of the previous film), she teams up with vampire scion David (Theo James) in order to find her.
Say what you like about the Twilight films, at least that franchise knew how to have fun. The Underworld series is burdened with the world's dullest vampires, none of whom seem to be enjoying themselves, even if the leather-heavy costume work suggests otherwise. Hopes are briefly raised by the appearance of the treacherous Semira (Lara Pulver as a pound-shop version of Eva Green), but the script fails to give her anything interesting to do.
As with all four previous entries, the dialogue is almost criminally boring, eschewing anything in the way of wit in favour of endless reiterations of the same soporific backstory. On top of that, the action sequences are poorly staged and repetitive, though there are a couple of decent gore moments in the final throes that fleetingly liven things up.
To be fair, Beckinsale can still kick butt with the best of them and she works wonders with a painfully underwritten character. But it's hard not to conclude that she deserves better than this and that, all things considered, it might be time to stick a stake in the heart of this particular franchise.
General release from Fri 13 Jan.