UNDERWORLD 3 Has Big Sets, Small Stars

Producers of Underworld: Rise of the Lycans have spent money on sets and effects, but are counting on relative unknowns like sultry Brit Rhona Mitra to drive the film.
News about the upcoming feature Underworld: Rise of the Lycans, the third in the vampires-vs-werewolves series, has been sparse and slow in coming. But now, a reporter called CAPTAIN at SCI FI PI has detailed his recent visit to the warehouse sets in Auckland, New Zealand.

"We can confirm that the production values of sets and costumes are extremely high," he wrote, also mentioning that "the sets are immense."

Rise of the Lycans, directed by veteran FX artist Patrick Tatopolous (Godzilla), is a prequel to the first two installments. It stars Michael Sheen (Blood Diamond) and Bill Nighy (Pirates of the Caribbean), who played the antagonists in the first film--Lucian the lycan leader and Viktor the vampire king, respectively. The story centers around the forbidden love of Lucian and Viktor's daughter Sonja (Rhona Mitra of Doomsday), and the thousand-years war that results.

"The story is bold and the pedigree is pure, with original director, Len Wiseman producing and writing, and Tatopolous having worked on the first two films," reported Captain, who noted Tatopolous' description of Rise as "the 'cousin' of the first two films, with the story focused on the history of the werewolves and their rise from slavery."

An important player in the lycan uprising, as series fans know, is Raze, right hand man to Lucian. Recent rumors suggested that Kevin Grevioux (Slayer, right), who co-created Underworld, would return to the character he originated in the first film. However, the ZIMBABWE STANDARD has dispelled that rumor definitively.

Stanley Makuwe, an award-winning Zimbabwean born author, and writer of the provocative play Overthrown, received a phone call "out of the blue" from the producers of Underworld 3, offering him the role of Raze in the new flick. The professional nurse, who started filming on March 6, called the opportunity "one of the greatest moments of [his] life."

But, as CINEMA BLEND'S JOSH TYLER asked, "will anyone show up to see it?" After all, many fans were disappointed to learn that Wiseman's spouse Kate Beckinsale (Click), who headlined the first two films, would not reprise the role of Selene for the third (logically, Selene has no place in the medieval-set prequel, but that's not stopped latex-loving fanboys from venting). Tyler noted that "Rhona Mitra looks a lot like Kate Beckinsale, but as the box office totals for her new movie Doomsday...demonstrate, she’s not exactly a draw."

KEVIN POWERS at FIRST-SHOWING admitted that "Mitra (left) and Beckinsale on the surface seem pretty interchangeable," but he chose to see that as a plus: just substitute one sexy Brit for another, and the series moves on. In fact, Powers found a lot to like about Mitra's "exotic, eye-catching" performance in Doomsday, her first major big screen role after brief appearances in flicks such as Hollow Man and a lot more TV parts. As he noted, "her silky accent and smokey stare are far deadlier than any sword, gun or telepathy!"

But, while Mitra may be ready to step up as the next sci-fi action heroine, Tyler insisted that Rise of the Lycans will "need big budget effects to suck fans back in."

Captain's glowing report suggests that the current production has the goods. "Cool things to get excited about are new and sexy vampire armor, Mitra in kickass form, big battles and a bold and brutal style to the film that pays homage to the original flicks, but takes the Underworld saga into new territory."
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