Underworld is far from the critically beloved franchises like Harry Potter or the MCU, but it’s something of a cult series and it has a huge fanbase of its own. Those fans may be left upset after Kate Beckinsale doubts Underworld 6 will ever happen, but five movies is way more than most film series could ever dream of reaching.
In the series, Beckinsale plays the iconic Selene, a vampire who is a part of a war between vampires and werewolves. At their best, the Underworld movies are misunderstood gothic masterpieces, and at their worst, they’re so-bad-they’re-good supernatural melodramas.
Blood Wars is the last movie in the franchise, and it had the potential to end on a high note. Unfortunately, it ended up doing the exact opposite and became the lowest-rated movie of them all. The epic end to a five-movie saga had a relatively low budget compared to its predecessors, and it had the lowest box office gross of them all too, making just $85 million worldwide.
Though the finale didn’t exactly have to be a Blade and Underworld crossover, which is actually something that Beckinsale had been wanting herself, it couldn’t even deliver on its smallest promises. The movie was generally criticized for somehow having worse digital effects than the first movie from 13 years earlier and lacking any kind of fun. According to The Hollywood Reporter, before Blood Wars entered pre-production, the original plan was to reboot the series, and that might have been the better idea.
Underworld: Endless War is to the Underworld franchise what The Animatrix is to The Matrix franchise. The 2011 release is an animated 18-minute short film that comprises three stories, each taking place in a different period and depicting the long-running war between vampires and Lycans. The movie aims to expand the mythology of the horror series.
But where The Animatrix is considered by some to be the best movie in its series, the same can’t be said for Endless War. The 2011 release isn’t as fleshed out as it could have been, it’s way too short, and with lore that runs so deep, there’s so much potential to tell more stories. The short film doesn’t take advantage of that. However, the animation does look great, and it has more of the same aesthetic as the original movie, which is one of Underworld’s biggest appeals.
After being absent from the third movie in the franchise, Beckinsale returned to the series and reprised her role of Selene in Underworld Awakening, and that’s most likely why the movie made almost double that of its predecessor. Selene is the most interesting character in the series, and having an Underworld movie without her would be like having a Pirates of the Caribbean movie without Captain Jack Sparrow.
However, despite making almost $70 million more than the Beckinsale-absent Rise of the Lycans, Awakening isn’t actually as well-liked. With Underworld Awakening, the series was starting to forget its roots, as the fourquel is more of a vapid action movie than a gothic horror with elements of action. And that was obvious from the fact that the studio converted the film into 3D after the film was shot. That meant that not only did it feature lousy action, but that audiences had to watch it in the bargain version of 3D too.
Underworld: Rise of the Lycans subverted fans’ expectations in more ways than one. The movie is a prequel instead of a sequel, and there’s no Selene to be found. And as the series is generally about how the vampires are the good guys, Rise of the Lycans flipped that on its head, But that made the war between the vampires and werewolves more three-dimensional.
While critics quickly made up their minds about the movie and it has been criticized for being formulaic and incomprehensible, it’s still liked by fans of the series, and it builds on the mythology in interesting ways. But most surprising of all, Selene wasn’t missed, and though it’s a brisk 89 minutes, Michael Sheen and Bill Nighy do well to carry the movie without Beckinsale. However, that didn’t help its box office figures, as the movie made a miserable $91 million, which was the series’ lowest performance yet.
Underworld Evolution, the second entry in the series, is worse than the original movie in almost every way, as it isn’t as hard-hitting, graphic, gothic, or as scary as its predecessor. However, it’s still a more than worthy follow-up, and though it doesn’t lean as hard into the leather or rain, it’s still more engaging, and audiences care more about the characters than they did in the first film.
Though the 2006 release has a strange blue filter that isn’t remotely in line with the aesthetic of the first movie, and viewers have to suspend disbelief at the sight of some clearly CGI fangs, it’s a fun and creepy action movie. And it’s by far the most accomplished of the series in terms of sheer scope and ambition.
It all started with 2003’s Underworld, a fairly straightforward and thrilling horror-action popcorn flick. At this point in time, even the writers probably didn’t know how bogged down the series would get in its own mythology. Underworld’s wonderfully gothic aesthetic, leather-clad characters, and rainy metropolis were influenced by other 2000s movies, and it rode on the coattails of The Matrix and Blade.
But the movie still somehow managed to outlast the both of them, at least up until the release of last year’s The Matrix Resurrections. There’s no denying how irresistible Underworld is, and the gruesome scenes of vampires getting their heads sliced in half make it stand out from the sea of other 2000s vampire movies.
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