COLUMN: Vampire movies and "Underworld: Blood Wars"


"Underworld" is an action-horror movie series based on the eternal struggle between vampires and werewolves. The same old formula has been used and abused over and over again on the big screen, and even "Twilight" – a franchise belonging to the romance/fantasy genre – has tapped into the centuries-long skirmish between the two undead clans. 

But before we get into the complexities of "Underworld," it’s important that we look back at how vampire genre came to the fore.

The world’s obsession with vampires started with Bram Stoker when he penned his original "Dracula" novel back in 1897. The legend lives on nowadays through countless movies and video games that have been created carrying Count Dracula’s image and likeness. 

Moviegoers probably hit their peak obsession with vampires back in 2010 when "Eclipse," the third installment of the "Twilight Saga" raked in a whopping $700 million in worldwide sales. The numbers started to decline after 2010, which was evident with the 2014 movie "Dracula Untold." The movie that starred the amazing Luke Evans as Vlad the Impaler took a fraction of what the "Twilight" films took at the box office. In total, it managed a disappointing $217 million despite the hyperbole that surrounded the movie’s release. 

One of the most popular Dracula-based video games is a title developed by Frogwares Studios called "Dracula: Origin," which is a point-and-click adventure game on Steam based on Bram Stoker’s original novel. A more recent title was developed for casual players called "Universal Monsters: Dracula," which is currently being featured on the online gaming website Slingo. Despite Dracula’s popularity on modern media channels, however, it would seem that the world has yet to recover from its 2010 peak obsession with the blood-sucking creatures. Thus, it was always going to be hard for "Underworld: Blood Wars" to reach the same commercial success as the "Twilight" movies even though it has had respectable box office takings in the past.

The "Underworld" franchise has certainly garnered a following over the years. The third film, which was the prequel to "Rise of the Lycans" where the protagonist vampire killer Selene appeared in a cameo, was lauded for its thrilling battles between vampires and werewolves.

Fast-forward to the recently released "Blood Wars," this installment follows the same blueprint of previous "Underworld" movies. Selene (Kate Beckinsale) is still the main character - a terrifying killing machine that removes anything that gets in her way, while still trying to recover from the fact she is estranged from her daughter Eve, the only other living Hybrid. Eve is “the most potent product of the Corvinus Strain” and is three parts Immortal, Lycan and Vampire but has been hidden for her own safety. 

Regardless of the movie failing to bring anything particularly new to the silver screen, as ever, the action scenes produce a melee of gore and stunning martial arts. It’s a continuation of Selene’s odyssey against the vampire world with the addition of having to deal with the Lycans – a cunning group of mercenaries looking to end the Corvinus Strain forever. Luckily for the Vampires, Selene who is still the most deadly Vampire Death Dealer on the planet is still a formidable presence. As the Lycans grow in power, they descend upon the Vampire’s residents and all hell breaks loose. 

While "Blood Wars" may not bring back the golden age of vampire movies back to the big screen it makes for interesting viewing at times. "Underworld" has become synonymous with unrelenting fight scenes, and Blood Wars delivers on this front. Though as far as storylines go, it just doesn’t have that added bite to keep the franchise going for much longer.