#5 in my ranking of the Underworld franchise.
Was your favorite part of the previous Underworld movies the boring palace intrigue? Well, you’re in luck, because that’s about 75% of this movie. The franchise’s propensity for dull lore exposition, clamoring for position from dull, uninteresting characters, and half-thought out world building reaches its crescendo here in the final film of the Underworld series. The whole affair comes to a poorly structured mess of a film that feels like it’s over at the hour mark but just keeps chugging along for another thirty minutes anyway.
I think the central problem at the heart of these later Underworld movies is that Selene isn’t really the main character anymore. Her limited story in the fourth film often got pushed to the side, but by this fifth movie it’s obvious that she probably shouldn’t be in the film at all. She spends half of her screentime insisting that she wants nothing to do with the overall plot and about half of the whole movie simply off screen. She ends up contributing so little to the whole affair that it feels like the only reason she’s in the film is because Kate Beckinsale is the star of the series.
They had a chance to reset the franchise in a different, perhaps more interesting, direction in the previous film by reforging the overall conflict as the supernatural creatures up against the humans. The twist that the main human antagonists are just lycans robbed the franchise of that, and the fifth movie is just there to work through familiar territory. The vampires and the lycans are at each others’ throats still, with the millennium long conflict no closer to finding an ending, despite Selene’s efforts throughout the whole series. She starts the movie on a motorcycle (after a tedious explanation of the series up to that point) running away from lycans. Eventually they stop her, only to be saved by David (Theo James) who takes her back to the Eastern Coven led by Semira (Lara Pulver). She wants Selene to train her Death Dealers, to become the force to fight off a potential large scale attack of lycans led by Marius (Tobias Menzies), the new lycan leader.
There are all manner of double-crosses going on, and because the film doesn’t give a whit about any of the characters nothing matters to the audience. Sure, people are getting backstabbed, but the only one the audience could possibly feel for is Selene because she has a history through the previous films. Nothing in this film is there to actually get the audience invested in what’s going on. So, when we discover that Semira’s right hand woman, Alexia, is actually Marius’ lover, it doesn’t matter. We barely recognized her simply because she has red hair in contrast to everyone else’s black. There’s nothing else about her that makes her interesting or special. So she might as well be a traitor or something. I mean, why not, you know?
Selene ends up retreating to a northern vampire stronghold where she and David discover that he’s actually the last full-blooded vampire, or something. He’s the rightful heir to the Eastern Coven, or something. I really don’t think any of this matters to the storytellers, so why should I care? Selena supposedly dies, sliding under the ice after a fight with Marius that feels like it’s fraught with emotion but isn’t because they have no connection or history. At this point, I thought the movie was pretty much over only to discover that there was another thirty minutes to go. It was also here that it became obvious that Selena shouldn’t have been the main character because the movie just keeps going. This feels like it was written by someone with no knowledge of how to actually tell a story.
There’s another big battle full of terrible CGI, and Selene comes back to save the day, or something. It’s all dumb.
I would be happy if this franchise stayed dead forever now. It got good once, almost by accident, in Rise of the Lycans, but the rest has been middling at best. It’s ended so badly, though, that I just can’t care to imagine another one being made at all. Let it stay dead.