For the fourth installment of their mega-hit Underworld franchise, “Underworld Awakening,” the filmmakers have taken the extraordinary risk of reinventing and reinvigorating an already hugely successful, internationally acclaimed property. They have transported their Vampire and Lycan characters into a contemporary, human-dominated world in which they are hunted to near extinction, adding the excitement of cutting edge 3D technology into the mix.
With other commitments pending, including helming the upcoming remake of “Total Recall,” franchise creator Len Wiseman chose not to direct the film, but was on hand as a producer and provided the inspiration for the extraordinary storyline. “Len imagined a scenario where Selene and Michael have created a child,” says Gary Lucchesi, president of Lakeshore Entertainment. “That was the starting point for this movie. It would have been impossible to make such a good movie without Len’s contribution. He was involved in everything from production design to writing the script and casting the film.”
Kate Beckinsale, who starred in the first two installments of the Underworld saga, once again returns as the Vampire Death Dealer Selene, who escapes a lengthy imprisonment to discover that humans have almost successfully eradicated both the Vampire and Lycan clans.
“This is a continuation of the story that ended in `Underworld Evolution,’” says David Coatsworth, executive producer of the film. “Putting Selene into the context of a modern world and having her interact with humans is one of the two big new elements. The second is the discovery that she’s the mother of a teenage daughter. It brings a whole new twist to the evolution of Selene and sets up the possibility of continuing on into the future.”
Set 15 years after the conclusion of “Evolution,” “Underworld Awakening” adds new characters and new rules to the story. “I think the hardcore fans are going to find a more action-packed and, to a certain degree, more violent Underworld than they’ve seen before,” says Lucchesi. “Selene’s rougher in this movie than she’s ever been. She’s capable of greater violence. It’s a very strong dramatic story and extremely well-acted. We’ve set a high bar with the earlier films and I think the audience will find this really intriguing.”
The updates take the story out of its mythological past and place it squarely in the world of the science-fiction action thriller. “It doesn’t take place in our past or present or future,” says Richard Wright of Lakeshore. “It takes place in its own version of all three of those temporal periods.”
With “Underworld Awakening,” the filmmakers set out to create an all new story that would appeal to both long-time franchise fans and attract the attention of those who have not yet experienced the Underworld saga. “I think that when people who have enjoyed the earlier films come to a new one, there are certain things they expect to see, certain conventions to be adhered to,” says Coatsworth. “But I think they also want something new. That presents a two-fold challenge. We had to be loyal to the rules of the game and also provide a new dimension to the story.”
Coatsworth believes the film succeeds on both levels and will be able to stand on its own as an exciting and entertaining film. “You don’t have to have seen any of the other Underworlds to appreciate it. I think a new group of people who enjoy action films and 3D will be a big part of our audience.”
By giving Selene and Michael a daughter, the filmmakers hope to extend the life of the franchise well into the future. “Since both Selene and Eve are immortal, who knows what will happen.” says Wright. “They may be together for a thousand years.”
Opening across the Philippines in January 2012, “Underworld Awakening” is distributed by Columbia Pictures, local office of Sony Pictures Releasing International. Visit www.columbiapictures.com.ph to see the latest trailers, get free downloads and play free movie games.