|Underworld: Blood Wars|
Theatrical release poster
|Directed by||Anna Foerster|
|Screenplay by||Cory Goodman|
by Kevin Grevioux
|Music by||Michael Wandmacher|
|Cinematography||Karl Walter Lindenlaub|
|Edited by||Peter Amundson|
|Distributed by||Screen Gems|
|Box office||$81.1 million|
Underworld: Blood Wars is a 2016 American action horror film directed by Anna Foerster (in her feature film directorial debut). It is the fifth installment in the Underworld franchise and the sequel to Underworld: Awakening (2012), with Kate Beckinsale reprising her role as Selene. The main cast also includes Theo James, Lara Pulver, Tobias Menzies, Bradley James, Peter Andersson, James Faulkner, Clementine Nicholson, Daisy Head, Oliver Stark, and Charles Dance.
Principal photography began on October 19, 2015, in Prague, Czech Republic. The film was released on November 24, 2016, in various countries and was subsequently released in the United States on January 6, 2017, by Screen Gems. It received generally negative reviews and has grossed over $81 million worldwide, against its production budget of $35 million.
The remaining vampire covens are on the verge of annihilation by the Lycans. Both species are searching for Selene: the vampires seek justice for the death of Viktor, while the Lycans, led by Marius, intend to use her to locate Eve, whose blood holds the key to building an army of vampire-werewolf hybrids.
Semira, a council member of the Eastern Coven, tells Thomas she wants Selene to be granted clemency and to train the coven's neophyte Death Dealers. She asks Thomas to plead Selene's case before the full council; the plea is successful and the council reluctantly agrees to a pardon in exchange for Selene's help. Selene arrives with David. Semira has Varga, her ally and lover, poison Selene and slaughter the trainees, framing Selene for the atrocity. With Selene in her power, Semira begins draining her blood, which she intends to drink to steal her power. Thomas and David attempt a rescue, but are attacked by Semira and Varga. Thomas is killed, but David and Selene escape.
The pair takes refuge at the Nordic Coven, pursued by Alexia, an Eastern Coven vampire dispatched by Semira. At Var Dohr, the Nordic Coven stronghold, Elder Vidar reveals that David is the son of High Elder Amelia, and thus the legitimate heir to the Eastern Coven.
Meanwhile, Alexia has told Marius, who is secretly her lover, that Selene is going to the Nordic Coven. Marius and his Lycans attack that coven. Selene and David fight alongside the Nordic vampires, who are led by Vidar's daughter Lena. Selene engages Marius in single combat, but he is too powerful in werewolf form, and she is stabbed by Alexia. Marius demands to know Eve’s location, but Selene insists she does not know; Alexia confirms this after tasting blood from her sword. Marius sounds the retreat. Selene deliberately slides herself under the now broken ice of the lake, telling herself that this is the 'path'.
At the Eastern Coven, Semira drinks the blood taken from Selene. Alexia returns and informs Semira of the attack at the Nordic Coven. Semira kills her, telling her that she knew of Alexia's treachery, and that she had acted precisely as Semira had planned. David returns to the Eastern Coven, where he presents himself as its rightful heir and denounces Semira. Even Varga deserts her, saying his loyalty is to the rightful leader of the coven. She is led off to be imprisoned in the dungeons.
The coven comes under attack by Marius and his forces. The Lycans blow holes in the castle's walls, letting in sunlight and killing some vampires. David continues fighting, only to find himself face to face with Marius. Selene suddenly reappears, now Nordic in appearance and wearing a coat over her Death Dealer uniform. (It is later revealed she had been resurrected by the Nordic Coven after undergoing the ritual of passing to the sacred world, and had received new powers, including enhanced speed.) She swiftly begins dispatching the Lycans, as the Nordic Coven, again led by Lena, joins the fight.
As Selene makes her way through the castle, Semira escapes from her cell and kills the dungeon guards. Selene and David find Marius, but David is waylaid by Semira. As Marius and Selene's fight continues, a drop of Marius's blood lands on Selene's lips and she is suddenly flooded by blood memories of Marius finding Michael. She sees Marius capturing Michael, then slitting his throat to collect his blood and consume it. To counter her despair that Michael is dead, she bites her own wrist, accessing her own blood memories of time spent with Michael, Eve, and David. Although Marius has transformed, Selene rips out his spine, killing him instantly. Meanwhile, David manages to kill Semira while she is distracted with glee that sunlight is harmlessly falling on her. He shows Marius's severed head to the Lycans and calls on them to collect their wounded and go.
In the aftermath, Selene, David, and Lena are chosen as new Elders. It is revealed that after her resurrection at the Nordic Coven, Selene was reunited with Eve, who had been following her mother through their telepathic link, as she had anticipated.
- Kate Beckinsale as Selene, a Death Dealer
- Theo James as David, a Vampire hybrid / Vampire elder and Selene's protégé and ally
- Lara Pulver as Semira, a fiercely ambitious Vampire
- Tobias Menzies as Marius, a Lycan leader.
- Bradley James as Varga, the Eastern Coven's leading Death Dealer
- Peter Andersson as Vidar, the elder of the Nordic Coven
- James Faulkner as Cassius
- Clementine Nicholson as Lena, the Nordic Coven's greatest warrior / Vampire elder and daughter of Vidar
- Daisy Head as Alexia, a neophyte Death Dealer from the Eastern Coven and Marius's vampire lover
- Oliver Stark as Gregor
- Charles Dance as Thomas, a Vampire Elder and David's father.
Trent Garrett portrays Michael Corvin, a Lycan-Vampire Hybrid, and Selene's lover. Michael and his daughter, Eve, are also Alexander Corvinus' distant descendants. Garrett replaces Scott Speedman, who played the role in two of the previous four films. Speedman appears in archival footage from Underworld and Underworld: Evolution for key scenes in Blood Wars. Zita Görög, who played the role of Amelia in the first two films, following her retirement from acting. Görög appears in archival footage from Underworld: Evolution for several key scenes in Blood Wars. India Eisley, who portrayed Eve in the fourth film, appears in archival footage from that film. Eve is portrayed in Blood Wars by a stand-in.
On August 27, 2014, Lakeshore Entertainment announced their plans to develop a reboot of the Underworld franchise, with Cory Goodman hired to write the script for the first film. Tom Rosenberg and Gary Lucchesi were named as producers. The film was later confirmed to be a fifth entry in the series, rather than a reboot. Titled Underworld: Next Generation, the film was in production and set to be released 2015. Theo James, who appeared in the role of David in the fourth film, would return as the new lead. On October 12, 2014, director Len Wiseman told IGN that original Underworld lead Kate Beckinsale would be back for the film. On May 14, 2015, Anna Foerster signed on to make her directorial debut with the film, being the first woman to direct the film in the series, with Beckinsale confirmed to return. On August 14, it was announced by Deadline Hollywood that Tobias Menzies had been cast as Marius, a mysterious new Lycan leader. On September 9, Bradley James was cast as the male villain. Same day, newcomer Clementine Nicholson signed on to play Lena, the Nordic Coven's greatest warrior and daughter of Vidar. On September 22, Lara Pulver was added to the cast to play a fiercely ambitious Vampire. On October 19, Charles Dance was confirmed to return to play Vampire elder Thomas. Additional cast was also announced which included James Faulkner, Peter Andersson, and Daisy Head.
Principal photography on the film began on October 19, 2015, in Prague, Czech Republic, and was set to take place over ten weeks. The film's crew included cinematographer Karl Walter Lindenlaub, production designer Ondřej Nekvasil, costume designer Bojana Nikitović, and editor Peter Amundson. Filming wrapped up on December 11, 2015.
Initially the film was set for an October 21, 2016, release. After announcement about release delay, the film's earliest release date became November 24, 2016, when the film was released in Russia, Ukraine, Georgia and Kazakhstan, followed by December 1, 2016, release in various countries such as El Salvador and Australia. It was released in the U.S. on January 6, 2017.
Underworld: Blood Wars grossed $30.4 million in the United States and Canada and $50.7 million in other territories for a worldwide total of $81.1 million, against a production budget of $35 million.
In North America, the film was expected to gross $15–19 million over its opening weekend. It went on to open to $13.7 million, down 49% from the previous installment, finished fourth at the box office and marking the lowest debut of the franchise. The film made $6.2 million in its second weekend and in its third was dropped from 1,604 theaters (the 105th biggest third-week theater decrease of all-time) and made $1.7 million.
The review aggregator website Rotten Tomatoes gives the film an approval rating of 19% based on 96 reviews, with an average rating of 3.9/10. The site's critical consensus reads, "Underworld: Blood Wars delivers another round of the stylized violence that the series is known for, but – like many fifth franchise installments – offers precious little of interest to the unconverted." On Metacritic, the film has a score of 23 out of 100, based on 17 critics, indicating "generally unfavorable reviews". Audiences polled by CinemaScore gave the film an average grade of "B+" on an A+ to F scale.
Rafer Guzman of Newsday called the film the weakest and most bloodless of the series, with "third-rate" special effects and "clunky" action scenes. Ben Kengisberg of the New York Times wrote that the film was "so heavy with exposition" that the director and screenwriter were making "a dissertation instead of a sequel", and criticized what he saw as the film's "almost willful lack of fun". Frank Scheck of The Hollywood Reporter wrote that the film was a "generic, by-the-numbers" exercise that was "strictly anemic", given "all its talk of blood". He did praise the acting of Beckinsale and Dance, saying the presence of those Dance and others continued the tradition of distinguished British actors "appearing in Hollywood crap in lieu of receiving a proper pension".
Peter Travers of Rolling Stone was very negative in his review, writing that "scraping bottom would be a step up" for the film, and that the franchise "needs [a] stake through the heart". In a positive review, Owen Gleiberman of Variety wrote that it was "gun-blazing, body-splattering business as usual", and that the film made "a token stab at actual theatrical drama" in setup for the "action slaughter" that is "its own (numbing) reward". He also praised the performances of Beckinsale, Pulver, and especially, Dance.
Wiseman revealed that a sixth film is also in development with Beckinsale reprising her role as Selene. On September 13, 2018, Beckinsale confirmed she will not appear in the sixth film, stating: "I wouldn't return. I've done plenty of those."
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