Last December, I went to Prague in the Czech Republic to visit the set of Underworld: Blood Wars. There, I had the opportunity to not only walk through a couple of the sets that were built for the film but also to chat with some of the cast and crew of the movie. Having done so, I learned a few things that I think might be of interest to those excited for the fifth film in this franchise!
Underworld: Blood Wars follows Vampire death dealer, Selene as she fends off brutal attacks from both the Lycan clan and the Vampire faction that betrayed her. With her only allies, David and his father Thomas, she must stop the eternal war between Lycans and Vampires, even if it means she has to make the ultimate sacrifice.
Directed by Anna Foerster (“Outlander”), Underworld: Blood Wars stars Kate Beckinsale, Theo James, Tobias Menzes, Lara Pulver, Bradley James, and Charles Dance.
WARNING: There will be spoilers discussed below, so please be careful with what you read.
1. Selene and Eve aren’t together when the film starts
Producer David Kern gave us a more in-depth explanation of what to expect when the film kicks off, saying:
Not much time as passed [since Underworld 4]. Selene is on the run. She’s been separated from Eve, her daughter who we met in Underworld 4. She’s being hunted down and she’s sort of finding herself at the end of a battle and is down and out. We meet her as she re-teams with Theo James. The two of them escape this city that is being overrun by the bad guys, the Lycans, the werewolf dudes, and head off to safety at a vampire coven where Selene’s job is to train a new generation of people.
At that point, that’s where they meet Charles Dance, who plays Theo’s dad. It’s where they meet Lara Pulver, who plays a kind of centerpiece vampire in this one as well. Castle intrigue ensues, and they’re forced to leave to a new remote location where they take refuge for a while and gear up to come back into town and reclaim some level of regularity amongst the vampire ranks by way of returning to this place where Lara Pulver’s clan has been, and where they were compromised. At the end of the film, we come back and there is this grand battle where they take on other vampires and Lycans and it kind of all clashes at the same place at the same time in the third act. Along the way they go to a sort of remote distant all brand new coven of vampires that we haven’t seen in any Underworld movies yet.
2. We’re introduced to a new breed of vampire
Kern also elaborated on the Nordic vampires that have been seen in the trailers.
[Theo and Selene] go to this place called the Nordic Coven, which is a brand new looking place. It’s way up at the top of the Earth. It’s entrenched in snow. It’s a peaceful clan of vampires that are not interested in warfare and have ostracized themselves out of vampire civilization and they’ve taken into hiding at this kind of really cool, old different looking spot. At that point, they meet this new gang. There are a couple of cool, new powers that these people have. Like ability to transport from one place to another that Selene learns how to do.
3. Director Anna Foerster wasn’t a fan of the fourth film
Regardless if you like the forth Underworld film or not, I think we can all agree that there was a definite tone shift. Foerster commented on that and explained what she felt was missing and hoped to bring back with this entry:
To me it became more like a futuristic science fiction piece and what missed for me is that balance with mythology and history were too one-dimensional and clean for me. What I love about the other ones and what I love about what we’re doing right now is that their really interesting characters that have layers and even if it’s an actual film there is quite a lot of character stuff going on and I felt that it wasn’t quite as developed as it could have been. There’s a lot of interesting stuff; the mother-daughter stuff, a lot of heavy stuff but I’m not sure if it actually worked as emotionally impactful as it could have.
4. The film mixes practical and CG for the Lycans, including a new design we haven’t seen yet
Obviously, horror fans are very interested in practical FX work as it simply feels more real and tangible. When CG is used over practical FX, we end up feeling disillusioned and cheated. Foerster realizes this but understands that there have to be compromises because of the nature of the film, stating:
It’s a combination of all, like for Marius, Tobias, when he transforms, there’s a stage of, let’s say, warrior arousal when he just gets teeth and eyes. That’s the typical stuff we have seen before, just for him it’s a little bit different. But when general wolves are transformed all the way they are the typical Lycan you have seen in the movies and we have suits which we are using for close-up work, like foreground stuff, like people being wrestled out of frame and actual human contact, For wider shots or with more Lycans or Lycans on all fours running up a cliff or something that would be CG Lycans. Then, specifically for Marius when he transforms I think there’s a little surprise because he’s not the Lycan you have seen before. There’s a new design for him and a new idea on why he looks the way he does. When Marius transforms all the way he is a CG creature.
5. Scott Speedman’s character Michael is killed off in this story
This one kinda took us by surprise but it was Tobias Menzies who let it slip that Michael isn’t a part of the film because he was killed in the mythology. We noticed that Menzies was sporting a scar, which seems odd as Lycans healing factor doesn’t allow for scars to remain after injuries. He explains:
The idea with him, as part of the technical aspect of it, is that [Lycans] don’t scar, [Marius] doesn’t scar, but the thought is that the scar might be the result of the fight with Michael that ends up in Michael’s death, so that maybe only the hybrid peoples can inflict wounds they can’t heal from, and Michael being a hybrid. So, I get a lot of injuries in the film and end up with… this is all that is left to show for itself. So I get a little back story that maybe this is from that.
Foerster expanded upon that, saying that Michael originally wasn’t even mentioned in the script, nor was he going to be a part of the film.
It was something that wasn’t mentioned. Everybody felt it was ok to not mention it. To me, it always felt like it was an open [ending] that [deserved] to be wrapped up as well as wrapping it up we’re giving this Michael-Tobias connection, now that you all know about it [laughing]! So, that gives him a much bigger layer, why he’s so powerful, why he suddenly needs blood so badly, why is he suddenly rising and being so powerful. That was, to me, always a question I couldn’t answer myself. Where is he coming from? Why does he suddenly have a strong side? There needs to be some mythological or whatever background to that work and that just seemed to be a great way to do it.
6. Marius isn’t the only villain in the film
One of the new vampires introduced in the film is Lara Pulver’s Semira who is one of the higher ups in the vampire world. It turns out that she and Selene are not going to see eye-to-eye…
Semira is on a very small, elite council that run these covens which is under threat from the Lycans. Semira has a slight issue with Selene, being that she was the person who killed Viktor in the previous movie, and had a lot of love and respect for Viktor, so there’s revenge that she feels might be necessary. She’s a badass. Yeah, I’d say she is the villain of the movie.
She’s very dark and very twisted. But weirdly, I hope, you have kind of empathy for her reasoning behind things. She just has no moral compass.
7. Kern has contemplated bringing ‘Underworld’ and ‘Resident Evil’ together
With movie mashups and universes being the hot ticket right now, we were curious if there might be a time when Alice and Selene might cross paths. Kern admitted that he’d thought about it but that it didn’t make much financial sense.
I was having beers with a friend the other night who works on these movies and he brought it up. He said, that would be so smart to do. But then you wonder, all the Resident Evil fans are also all the same Underworld fans, I would think. At that point, are you losing movie and losing content by…you can get one movie to come out one date, then six months later you get another and you’ve got two different movie tickets sold, whereas if you make a combined thing…
When pushed for his thoughts on who would win in a one-on-one fight between Alice and Selene, Kern admitted his bias:
I think it’d be a tie. They’re two pretty well-crafted… [Laughing.] I spent three years of my life doing ‘Underworld’ movies. I’d have to say Selene then, I suppose. She’s pretty gnarly.
8. Kate Beckinsale thought the first movie was going to be the only one
With Blood Wars, Beckinsale will be playing Selene for the fourth time in the Underworld franchise, something she never really expected to happen. When asked how she envisioned her character’s arc coming to an end, she found that she didn’t have any idea on how that might happen.
I don’t know! I think I envisioned it coming to an end after the first one. I never really planned on doing four movies playing the same character. And it’s an amazing privilege because there’s not that many girls that get the opportunity to be in a long-running franchise, especially an original story. So, I’m very happy about that but it’s not something that, you know, was always kind of a stretch or out of my comfort zone.
When pressed to see if she would return to the franchise for another film, Beckinsale couldn’t commit either way.
No idea. Can’t possibly answer [laughs]. I’ve always said “Not” but I think I’ve cried wolf a few too many times to properly answer that question.
9. Beckinsale feels Selene’s pivotal scene as a character is one of the franchise’s most recognized
I wanted to know if Beckinsale felt particularly strong about any one scene throughout her portrayal of Selene as being one that exemplifies what her character has to offer. To my surprise, it ended up being a scene that has been so popular, even the Mythbusters had to give it a shot (pun intended):
The first one is the first introduction to the character and I always loved her thinking on her feet, shooting the hole in the floor and going through the floor, you know all of that. I thought that was a pivotal moment in that movie but to be honest, she’s fallen in love, lost her lover, had a baby without realizing it… It’s like a telenovella! There’s so much stuff happening for her that I don’t know if I could condense it down to one scene.