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Underworld: Blood Wars Set Visit: Everything You Need to Know!

12.13.2016by: Eric Walkuski

Late last year, I was invited to the set of UNDERWORLD: BLOOD WARS, the fifth film in the franchise that has grossed over $450 million theatrically. Shooting in Prague in order to capture an Eastern European vibe that harkens back to the first film, UNDERWORLD: BLOOD WARS promises to be the most epic movie in the series yet. (The first film is the one producers and cast alike compared this one to the most.)

Back in action is, of course, Kate Beckinsale as Selene, the noble vampire who constantly has to defend herself from the vicious Lycans, as well as her own kind at various intervals. Also returning are Theo James as David, Selene's vampire ally who was introduced in UNDERWORLD: AWAKENING, and Charles Dance as Thomas, David's regal father. Key new figures to the series are Tobias Menzies, who portrays villainous Lycan leader Marius, and Lara Pulver as Serina, a vampire who has her sights on cutting Selene's throat for personal reasons. Another newcomer is Bradley James (who played the adult Damien on A&E's short-lived series) as Varga, a tricky vampire whose allegiances are unknown.

Below are a few major points for you to take going into January 6th, when BLOOD WARS opens:

THE PLOT

While the official synopsis provided by the studio is rather vague, producer David Kern laid out exactly what we can expect from this film to us in detail:

"The story is we're after Underworld 4, not much time as passed. 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. 'Come on guys, we're losing the battle, I'm the best of the best, I'll train you.' 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 where they meet some new people and Theo James' character understands some things about his past that speak to some stuff that happened in Underworld 4. It's a whole brand new kind of environment. Looks different than any Underworld-y type stuff we've done."

IT'S GOING TO BE BETTER THAN UNDERWORLD: AWAKENING

Kern, who also produced AWAKENING, made it clear that while that film is appreciated, this one is going for a more dramatic vibe. "On Underworld 4 we said, wow, this is a fun 88 minute chase movie and we meet her daughter. I think there was some great action in that movie, I think that was the best action that's been in an Underworld movie. I think this is, without question, the best story. And I'm not just saying that. When you read the script, it's a good script. You meet cool characters. You're getting deeper into a story that satisfies at the end. The end scene is very cool, and it has to do with the Eve character and Kate. It's without question the best story. And it's without question the best Kate character arc, I would say."

As to why the directors of AWAKENING weren't invited back, Kern offered this coy response: "Those guys were good at.. they executed that action movie well. We didn't want to do an action film."

Director Anna Foerster was blunter about her feelings toward AWAKENING. "... the fourth, I have to admit I wasn’t a big fan of four. That’s just a personal opinion to me... It became more like a futuristic science fiction piece and what missed for me is that balance with mythology and history, it was too one-dimensional and clean."

THERE ARE NORDIC VAMPIRES WITH NEW SUPERPOWERS

A major new setting in the film is a Nordic Coven, which is at the top of the Earth. This place is inhabited by "a peaceful clan of vampires that are not interested in warfare and have ostracized themselves out of vampire civilization," as producer Kern puts it. At a certain point in the film, Selene and David (Theo James) have secluded themselves among these vampires as they hide from the fearsome new clan of Lycans. The Nordic vampires have cool powers we haven't seen in the other films, such as teleportation. Director Anna Foerster explains:

"The superpowers… they have the possibility to appear and disappear but in a different way than Selene. For example, she has this speed move she can be very quick. These people, specifically Lena [Clementine Nicholson], have the possibility to almost transcend to one place to another. It's not just a speed move, she can almost be in two places at the same time."

Initially, these Nordic vamps aren't interested in fighting at all.

Foerster: "In a weird way, they are almost monks. They have said no to fighting, that’s why they went up north and they are all very skilled warriors but their armory is basically rusted old arms from hundreds of years ago. The interesting thing for them when they are forced to engage in battle they are forced to fight with the weapons they’ve laid down hundreds of years ago, and that’s kind of becoming an interesting contact because there you have people with machine guns and some people are highly skilled but they are with shields and swords."

Part of the Nordic set was a pretty elaborate cave system that led to an ice pool; a very neat practical set. The domain of the Nordic vamps was described as more of a monastery than anything else.

SCOTT SPEEDMAN AND INDIA EISLEY WILL NOT RETURN

Though the characters of Michael (Speedman) and Selene's daughter Eva (Eisley) are integral to the plot of BLOOD WARS, neither actor has returned to be in the film (although Michael does appear in his hybrid form at a certain point). The reason behind this was hazy, but according to director Anna Foerster, Speedman was never intended to be in the film. Michael does have a special connection to the villain, Marius, but I fear that may be a spoiler so I shall not reveal what it is. As for Eva, Foerster claims Selene's newfound status as a mother is important in this film: "I think really driving a line through this movie, that everything she’s doing, everything that’s dictating her actions, is based on being a mother and how she potentially failed as a mother and how she can make up for that. That is actually in a weird way almost her through line for the whole movie."

THE LYCANS WILL AGAIN BE A MIX OF PRACTICAL FX AND CGI

While it's impossible to satisfy the demands of horror fans uninterested in CGI creatures, director Anna Foerster wanted to make sure there were at least a few practical werewolf suits on set. I saw them with my own eyes and they looked very fearsome (and realistic) indeed.

Kern: "Our director Anna wanted to have practical suits because she likes that vibe. She felt that Underworld 4 was too VFX-y feeling. She really wanted to go back to Underworld 1 type vibe. So we've built new suits and creature performers and the guys on site rubbing Vaseline on them while the guys sit there on stools with their sneakers on and green socks."

That said, the main Lycan, Marius, will be an entirely CG creation, as he's a hybrid werewolf. (Actor Tobias Menzies did get to wear contacts and false teeth a few times for the "in between" stages, however.")

We're going to have more from the set tomorrow, with quotes from Beckinsale, Menzies and more! Stay tuned!

Extra Tidbit: NOTE: A portion of this set visit article was deleted at the studio's request.

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