By Madeline Iva
I’m an Underworld follower—are you? UNDERWORLD #5 BLOOD WARS comes out January 6th. I’m not a big movie franchise person. Didn’t see all the Twilight films. Didn’t see all the Star Wars films, Star Trek films, Hobbit films, etc, etc.
I’m going to go see UNDERWORLD BLOOD WARS for three reasons: Theo James, Theo James and Theo James.
If you’ve missed the whole Underworld franchise, below are reasons why I loved the original film-as well as which of the films to watch and which to skip. For those of you who have seen Underworld #1 – 4, check out down below where I parse the preview for Underworld #5.
WHY UNDERWORLD? It vampires vs. werewolves–or Lycans as they call them, and I’m all about cool, glittery Vampires with style. And even more about Theo James.
Before Theo popped up in Underworld #4, what first drew me into this world was Selene—cold, rational, ruthless Selene. All alone and perfectly bad-ass. Wearing head to toe black with ice blue eyes, she is a liquid ripple of lethal grace in a sapphire city. A female action adventure lead who sees trouble with a slight irritated wrinkle of her logical brow, and then proceeds to ruthlessly shoot up whatever needs obliterating.
But you haven’t seen the movies? You poor thing. Come with me, let me guide you through them.
UNDERWORLD #1 is awesome! Great casting. Great style. Great photography–shot in shades of elegant blue and black. Where are we? Who cares. Probably America. But not really.
The toys are fun too: Vampires invent liquid silver bullets–how do they stay liquid at room temp? Reasons. The silver spreads through a Lycans’ bloodstream killing them dead. But the Lycans find a way to create these glow-y untra-violet liquid bullets. It’s sunshine in a bullet and also kills vampires dead.
However, while the Lycans run around like homeless hipsters through the underground all fight club-ish in the sewers, the vampires have retreated mostly to their gated gi-normic estate where they hold parties and such. Selene seems to be the only one out there doing the gritty job of nailing the Lycans with a spray of bullets in the subway system, while her cohorts are all obsessed with the pecking order and some stupid party.
One would think that Selene is without any feelings at all, but when she spots Michael she finds him interesting. She watches him from above – as he starts to experience a “my life is about to get pretty trippy right now” moment. He’s hot in a Heath Ledger on steroids kind of way.
And yes, there’s a love story that develops. Though at first it’s a “Shut up while I save your ass, idiot human” story.
The number one bad guy is played by the actor, Michael Sheen. Michael Sheen’s greatness impresses me–I’m convinced he can do anything. He was fabulous as “the pedantic one” in MIDNIGHT IN PARIS, and so very good in MASTERS OF SEX.
To have a great story, your villain must be as compelling and as charismatic as your protagonists. We have that in Michael Sheen – he rivals our lovers in sympathy by the end, as well as in acting chops. Yet he’s willing to chew the scenery a bit, while the other two commit to underplaying their moments. (I love underplaying. Seriously.)
And what’s-his-name –Bill Nighy, is GREAT as a clammy ancient vampire risen from his freeze-dried stasis. You get the feeling that if he was once human he’s long forgot all about it. (It takes a certain kind of actor to sell that larger-than-life mythic quality–and Bill N is perfect.)
So we get a very good first half of the film, the beginning of the third act is great as well and the end wraps up with lot of fighting mixed with some dirty politics, then a lot more fight fight fight –and then we’re done. Overall, Underworld #1 is very much worth seeing.
UNDERWORLD EVOLUTION is a great title–but a miss. Our protagonist from Underworld #1, Michael–aka Heath on Steroids–can transform into this bizarre, ferocious, black gargoyle thing. The black gargoyle thing likes to fight. And that’s what this movie is: fight fight fight, politics, politics, blah, blah, blah, fight fight fight. Selene, as always, has to get Michael back, fight everyone, then fight some more and–Yawn. Also the movie is shot too much in daylight. The Underworld franchise works best during the hours of midnight to 4am. I recommend skipping this movie.
UNDERWORLD 3, RISE OF THE LYCANS is freaky deaky. We go back to the past – and the past is bleak, my friends. It’s all stone castles, whips, and people layered in furs, wearing swords. You know what I mean. I actually didn’t make it through the movie. This ur-myth of the Lycans and how they came to be at war with the vampires for All Time was missing a crucial component for me–Selene.
I stopped watching when Michael Sheen and Rhona Mitra are making forbidden love. But they’re like, doing it sticking over the edge of a cliff. That was just odd. She was on top, and Michael Sheen was the one hanging over an abyss. His character seems to like it. Cliff kink. Who’d a thunk it?
SIDE NOTE: Kate Beckinsale, by this time, was married to the director. Which is like, uh-oh. Because when she first came into the first Underworld movie she was married to Michael Sheen–with whom she has a child. So there’s this whole personal relationship issue between Kate, the director Len Wiseman, and Michael Sheen–but Kate says they’re all cool. Apparently she and Wiseman eventually broke up.
So although UNDERWORLD RISE OF THE LYCANS had it’s moments, it had no Selene. No Selene –and no Selene/Michael-Ledger-on-Steroids romance. This was a problem. Without Selene, I didn’t care.
But I’m still a believer!
UNDERWORLD AWAKENING got a big boost of energy in the form of Theo James and a tight new script that wasn’t exactly just the same-old same-old. Selene had been caught and frozen. She wakes up at the beginning of the film to find that we’ve gone from the kinda present to the near future – awesome! But wait! What about Michael? Selene is busting out of some nasty lab facility but before she leaves, she uses her sense of connection to track down Michael in another vampire popsicle container. Only, when she busts in, it’s not Michael in the container. It’s some tweener girl she’s never seen before. Cool! But what about Michael?
They escape and discover Theo James. Hell yeah—but what about MICHAEL?
I mean, the bite of love Selene feels for Michael–this is why we root for team Selene. And yet, I have to admit, if Michael has to die saving his little family or something and then Theo James steps in, I could live with that. I’m ready.
Ultimate decision: Underworld #4 is a decent movie. Plenty of Selene, and I’m able to let go Michael and move onto Theo. Definitely worth watching.
UNDERWORLD 5: BLOOD WARS. Here’s the trailer:
Okay, what can we ken from this 2:41 minute trailer?
Well, we’re back to Selene. And…there’s more Theo James. (Fist pump!) What else can we glean from this preview? It’s shot in that blue-y light which makes me very very happy.
However, it’s not a good sign that they spend the first minute or so of the preview on the past.
The villain looks GOOD. It’s that British actor I see in lots of things that I think of as Not-Cumberbitch. (He’s tall, has the same coloring and small squinty blue eyes too. He plays a Lycan named Marius. I like the way Selene spits out the words “Tell your leader—Marius–” Ptwoo! “I’m coming for him.”
Theo’s around and he’s protecting Selene. Great! Bring it on! Apparently the Lycans want the blood of Selene and her daughter and…somehow this will make someone invincible? There are kick ass Lycans, power-hungry vampires, and a woman with long white hair. There’s some winter wonderland stuff that ends with Selene wrapped up like a mummy being dunked in ice water…and some kind of cage match.
Sign me up! I know, it all sounds sort of muddled, but I have faith. They clearly have great actors, the blue-y light, and Selene plus Theo. This is what I like and for the rest, I’ll cross my fingers and hope for the best, because this movie has such a great fantasy/paranormal vibe.
Alas, it’s going to come out months from now. Meanwhile, my own fantasy romance is out in two weeks — and I’m having a give away to celebrate. Stay tuned!
Madeline Iva writes fantasy and paranormal romance. Her fantasy romance, WICKED APPRENTICE, featuring a magic geek heroine, is available for pre-order and releases November 1st. Sign up Madeline Iva news & give aways. Follow her on facebook.