I've always been a fan of the 'Underworld' franchise. The first film totally blew me away and - amazingly - the sequel (in my opinion, anyway) was that rarest of beasts of a sequel that was actually better than the original. Yes, a few people said the prequel that came next was a missed opportunity, as it didn't address a lot of the mythology that people were hoping for. And, despite many film critics absolutely despising the fourth instalment, I took some dumb enjoyment out of the affair. Therefore, I couldn't really see how 'part 5' would be anything other than more of the same silly, action-packed entertainment. I was wrong. Sadly.
I just couldn't believe how much the quality has fallen with this one. It just felt like one of the most generic, by-the-numbers films ever made. Yes, it had some of the same characters in it. Yes, Kate Beckinsale looked good in her catsuit. And, yes, there are still plenty of action scenes. Yet, this time round, it just didn't feel like anything other than an extended trailer for a film.
Although Kate Beckinsale does her best in the lead, this time round she seems almost bored to be here - like other roles have dried up and she needs this one to pay the bills. The other characters are equally forgettable; there's a new vampire who basically looks like the 'Mother of Dragons' from 'Game of Thrones' and (yet another) new leader of the werewolves (sorry, 'lycans') who just snarls in a menacing manner and even the - normally great - Charles Dance can't really add any old-school charm to the proceeding.
However, when I sat down to watch this, I was hardly expecting major character development and meaningful story arcs - I would have settled for some decent vampire versus werewolves action. I didn't even get that! The action scenes are possibly some of the worst ever in modern movies. Twenty years ago they might have been considered something special, but times have changed and people are expecting something a little different. But, again, I could have taken dull action - what I really got was 'stupid' action! If you think about any of the major fight scenes they make no sense whatsoever. The characters do things that are so ridiculous that it makes all those old horror films where the blonde leading lady doesn't bother killing the killer when she has the upper hand absolutely believable and inspired. I've never seen a more poorly-trained army of vampires who gets wiped out like they're 'normal' humans. I suppose at least they don't 'sparkle' in sunlight.
On the plus side, it does shed some light on some questions raised in previous instalments regarding characters who just - sort of - disappeared from the franchise, but apart from that, there's really not much here that you haven't seen before. I hear there's an 'Underworld 6' in the pipeline - I'll probably watch it, but this instalment has severely lowered my expectations towards the franchise.