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Soundtrack review: Underworld – Blood wars (Michael Wandmacher – 2017)

Film scores

Soundtrack review: Underworld – Blood wars (Michael Wandmacher – 2017)

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“Underworld: Blood Wars” is a 2017 American action horror film directed by Anna Foerster (in her directorial debut). It is the fifth installment in the Underworld franchise and the sequel to Underworld: Awakening (2012), with Kate Beckinsale reprising her role as Selene. The main cast also includes Theo James, Tobias Menzies, Lara Pulver, Peter Andersson, Clementine Nicholson, Bradley James and Charles Dance. It’s nice to see three Game Of thrones actors in this. Vampire death dealer Selene (Kate Beckinsale) continues her struggle against the Lycan clan and the Vampire faction that betrayed her, with both sides trying to use the blood of her and her daughter to become Corvinus Strain hybrids. After hiding her daughter, Selene, David (Theo James) and his father Thomas (Charles Dance), attempt to end the eternal war between Lycans and Vampires, though Selene must take a risk that may cost her her life. Michael Wandmacher wrote the score.

There’s a certain sound I’ve come to expect from the Underworld series. Paul Haslinger and Marco Beltrami have fleshed out a sharp and dark soundscape for the franchise and Wandmacher starts in the same vein with “What came before”, a sturdy and menacing cue that fits an opening title sequence. I’ve always enjoyed this sound because the action and horror orientation of the story makes for exciting film music; even if it can get generic for this genre, I’ll take a loud and alert generic score over a boring dark thriller score any day. A score like this passes fast and doesn’t give me time to complain; just like the movies themselves I know what I’m in for and if I got in, I’m going to enjoy it. Nothing is missing for my entertainment: dark and ominous motifs, electronic pulses, percussion to mark the chase scenes and the occasional warm emotional inserts, like the opening of “Clemency”. The subtle variety of content keeps the score fresh.

“David recues Selene” is the first true highlight of “Underworld: Blood wars” for me as it gets epic and spectacular and it actually makes me want to see the scene it was written for. The pace of the cue hits the right spot and I find myself turning up the volume for this one.  There are some filler cues that I could do without like “All I want is her blood” or “Valeesah” from the middle section of the album but they don’t hurt the overall listening experience.

“Blood wars” doesn’t stray too far from the “Underworld” sound we’ve gotten to know over the past dozen year and it’s good that it doesn’t. Fans of the series will appreciate Michael Wandmacher’s effort. I enjoyed the most the final five cues, from “Sunlight” on as the music got more relentless and fun to listen to and I like that there’s a long “End titles suite” at the end.

Cue rating: 76 / 100

Total minutes of excellence:

Album excellence:

Highlights:

David rescues Selene

Sunlight

 

 

 

 

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Mihnea Manduteanu

I have been listening to film music for 25 years and writing about it since 2014. I've written over 1000 reviews and I can't imagine myself doing anything else. I am also a member of IFMCA (International Film Music Critics Association).

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