Sony Screen Gems brought along footage of two of their higher profile upcoming releases to San Diego Comic Con this morning: UNDERWORLD: AWAKENING 3D and ATTACK THE BLOCK. The former is, of course, the fourth installment in the lucrative series of action-horror films, while the latter comes from England, stars a cast of mostly unknowns, and has been making a splash everywhere it goes. Naturally, we were only privy to a quick peek at both.
First up was UNDERWORLD, which was introduced by directors Mans Marling and Bjorn Stein, producer Len Wiseman, and stars Michael Ealy, Theo James and, naturally, the lovely Kate Beckinsale (who, as an aside, looks amazing even from four hundred feet away). Quickly following their introductions, we were given over to the world's first glimpse at the trailer.
As you might imagine, this looks quite like the UNDERWORLD movies we're used to, although it skews closer to the first two as UNDERWORLD: RISE OF THE LYCANS was set in the past. I'd have to say this one looks a tad more futuristic than we've seen before, but Beckinsale's Selene is as ass-kicking as ever. Dressed in her patented leather catsuit, we see Beckinsale take out a bevy of what looked to be scientists after she wakes up from her cryogenic sleep. Almost like a sexier version of the epic hammer sequence in OLDBOY, Selene mows down a row of oncoming bad guys, using knives and guns and really whatever is available to her. It's obvious that her slumber has not short-circuited her fighting skills. Somewhat odd, for these movies anyway, was the fact that I didn't see one lycan, at least, not one that really jumped out at me.
Speaking of jumping out, in terms of the 3D, everything looked quite crisp and appealing. UNDERWORLD: AWAKENING is one of a new slate of films that are obviously aware of the 3D criticism and has made a solid effort to have a glossy, sleek look.
After the teaser was over, Becksinsale, her hubby Len Wiseman, and the rest of the crew took on some questions, about this film and the future of the franchise. A fan noted the lack of lycans in the trailer, but it was subsequently made clear that there are plenty of lycans to be found in the flick. Also, human beings are more integral to the story, and seem to mostly function as the antagonists of the film. Another new element is Seline's daughter (played by India Eisely), although the panel guests weren't very keen on spilling the details on her role in the film. The producer on the film who sat on the panel mentioned that AWAKENING was a “new take” on the UNDERWORLD movies, but didn't go further.
On the subject of more UNDERWORLD films, Wiseman certainly appeared to be all for it. He wasn't about to say anything particular about the future of the franchise, but he did confirm that we won't be seeing it take the JASON X route and send Seline into outer space. We're all grateful for that, I'm sure.
After UNDERWORLD came ATTACK THE BLOCK, Joe Cornish's flick about a group of London street kids who take on an attack from extraterrestrial monsters. We were shown the trailer (which you can check out HERE) and then, after an intro by Cornish, producer Edgar Wright, and young star John Boyega, we got a lengthy scene to chew on.
Evidently taking place after the nasty invaders have already made their presence known, we meet a group of tough-talking teens, led by Boyega's steely-eyed Moses, as they make their way through an apartment building under siege. Joined by a frightened woman (Jodie Whitaker) they attempted to mug earlier and a stoned neighbor, the group must wander a dark hallway crawling with beasts. They've only got fireworks, bats and knives to protect them, but these characters seem to be able to make due with what they have. They ultimately make it to the apartment of Nick Frost's drug dealer character, who grudgingly lets them in... to another surprise that won't be spoiled here. It's a creepy, funny, entertaining scene, both scary and humorous, with at least one totally perfect jump scare. There was also plentiful gore, as we see one character get eaten alive by the monsters. It was too small of a sample and I wanted to see more immediately – a good sign.
Afterward, Cornish noted how he wanted this to be a twist on those 80s movies like E.T., GREMLINS and the like (the ones SUPER 8 paid tribute to earlier this summer), although instead of a creature landing in a whitebread suburban neighborhood, it's set in the rough South London neighborhoods of Cornish's youth. These kids aren't going to buckle under the weight of something so surreal either – they're protecting their ravaged hood at all costs. (The filmmakers joked that they've nicknamed this "SUPER * MILE".)
Even though it's jumping the gun a bit, someone asked if Cornish has ATTACK THE BLOCK 2 in mind. Cornish has obviously given it some thought, although he wasn't ready to commit to anything. He did say that if it were to go forward, he'd want it to pick up immediately after the ending of this film, comparing it to the way HALLOWEEN II takes place right after part one. Still, he wants to see how this one plays, and so far, it's playing very well. It opens in limited release on JULY 29th here in the states.
Meanwhile, UNDERWORLD: AWAKENING will make your eyeballs pop on JANUARY 20, 2012.
Kate, you can sit wherever you want...