Underworld Rise of the Lycans


Underworld Rise of the Lycans
The third film in the $200 million UNDERWORLD franchise delves into the origins of the centuries-old blood feud between the aristocratic vampires, known as Death Dealers, and the barbaric Lycans (werewolves). A young Lycan, Lucian (Michael Sheen), emerges as a powerful leader who rallies the werewolves to rise up against Viktor (Bill Nighy), the cruel vampire king who has persecuted them for hundreds of years. Lucian is joined by his secret lover, the beautiful vampire Sonja (Rhona Mitra), in his battle to free the Lycans from their brutal enslavement.

The running time is 92 minutes.

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A centuries-long blood feud erupts between two powerful and immortal tribes inUnderworld: Rise of the Lycans. The third film in the epic Underworld saga goes back in timeto depict the origins of the conflict between the aristocratic Vampires, known as Death Dealers,and the barbaric Lycans, a line of fierce werewolves. With more eye-popping CGI andastounding creature effects than either of its predecessors, Underworld: Rise of the Lycansreveals some of the hit franchise's most compelling secrets.

Screen Gems and Lakeshore Entertainment present Underworld: Rise of the Lycans,a Lakeshore Entertainment Production in association with Sketch Films. Michael Sheen(Frost/Nixon, The Queen), Bill Nighy (the Pirates of the Caribbean series, Love Actually), KevinGrevioux and Steven Mackintosh reprise their roles as Vampire overlords and Lycan rebels,with Rhona Mitra (Doomsday, TV's Boston Legal) joining the cast as the impetuous Vampirewarrior, Sonja. Patrick Tatopoulos (who designed the creatures for all three Underworld films)makes his feature film directing debut from a screenplay by Danny McBride (Underworld andUnderworld: Evolution) and Dirk Blackman & Howard McCain (Outlander). The film is based oncharacters created by Kevin Grevioux and Len Wiseman & Danny McBride and the story is byLen Wiseman & Robert Orr and Danny McBride. Producers are Tom Rosenberg (Million DollarBaby), Gary Lucchesi (The Exorcism of Emily Rose), Len Wiseman (Underworld andUnderworld: Evolution, Live Free or Die Hard) and Richard Wright (Underworld). SkipWilliamson, Henry Winterstern, James McQuaide, Eric Reid and Beth DePatie are executiveproducers.

The director of photography is Ross Emery, ACS (The Cave), the production design isby Dan Hennah (supervising art director on The Lord of the Rings trilogy), the editor is PeterAmundson (Hellboy), the costume designer is Jane Holland (30 Days of Night), the creaturedesigner is Patrick Tatopoulos (Underworld and Underworld: Evolution) and the music is byPaul Haslinger (Crank, Prom Night).

More than a thousand years before the events of the original Underworld, two races ofpreternatural beings came into being, each springing from the bloodlines of a different son of theoriginal Immortal, Alexander Corvinus. Vampires, arising from the Markus line, became elegant,aristocratic, cunning blood drinkers. Werewolves, from the William line, became savage beasts,with no trace of humanity left - and an insatiable appetite for violence. The Vampires came todominate the local region - the wild lands in what is now western Hungary - with their superiorintelligence, strength, and political skill. But even they feared the werewolves, who, thoughincapable of organization and higher thought, were capable of immense strength and savagery.And then another genetic fluke transformed the balance of power again: a femalewerewolf, captive in the Vampire stronghold, gave birth to a seemingly human child. This wasLucian (Michael Sheen) - the first Lycan, born into slavery in the house of Viktor (Bill Nighy), thesupremely powerful Vampire leader. Unlike "William's Kind", the original werewolves, this Lycanwas able to take the form of either man or beast at will. Lucian's bloodline was used by Viktor tocreate an entirely new breed of slaves, abused by the Vampires as laborers and guards duringthe vulnerable daylight hours, and prevented from transforming by the silver-spikedmoonshackles kept locked around their necks.

Viktor reigns over his slaves, his court and his domains with an iron hand. He loves onlytwo things: power, and his beautiful but willful daughter Sonja (Rhona Mitra).

Each night, Sonja rides with the Death Dealers, an elite squad of Vampire soldiers thatprotect Viktor's domain against the marauding werewolves. But unknown to her father or any ofher peers, Sonja has fallen in love with Lucian, now a skilled blacksmith and weapons-maker inthe Vampire castle. Their affair must be conducted in the utmost secret, since if discovered, itwould mean certain death for both of them.

When Lucian reveals that he has found a way to remove his moonshackle and gain hisfreedom, Viktor resolves to destroy him like a disobedient animal. In a thrilling sequence, Lucianmanages rally the other Lycans and escape from the Vampire dungeons - with Sonja's help.Refusing to abandon his beloved, Lucian assembles a ragtag army of escaped Lycans,slaves and werewolves, returning to challenge Vampire rule and rescue Sonja. The attack andits aftermath ignite an all-out war that will burn between the races for centuries to come.Incredible battle scenes, astonishing stunts and cutting-edge creature effects make Underworld:Rise of the Lycans an epic adventure that stands proudly on its own.

SHINING A LIGHT ON THE CAST

The filmmakers of Underworld: Rise of the Lycans were thrilled to have been able toreassemble the cast that created some of the series' most unforgettable characters, anensemble that features several distinguished British actors with busy careers. "I had no idea thatwe'd be able to maintain the cast that we've had," says Wiseman. "I was thrilled to be able toget so many of them back."

The script explains centuries of enmity between adversaries Lucian (Michael Sheen) andViktor (Bill Nighy) with plot twists that may subvert fans' expectations. "Because both thosecharacters were very complex, it was really nice to be able to resurrect them for the prequel inthe new context of the historical past," says Wright.

Sheen, a BAFTA nominee for his work in The Queen with Helen Mirren, has appearedas Lucian in all three movies, taking the character from apparent arch villain to hero. "One thingthat Michael always brings to his work is passion," says Tatopoulos. "There's nothing thatescapes him and every detail of this character is very precise."

Co-star Nighy agrees. "Michael is one of those very rare actors who will deliver any rolewith great intelligence, great wit and great power. Nobody in the history of cinema delivers awerewolf as brilliantly and as powerfully as Michael Sheen. I say that with complete confidence."After seeing Lucian die in Underground: Evolution, Sheen was happily surprised to havean opportunity to play the character again. "I got the chance to show the story that we heardabout in the first film," says the actor. "In the beginning, you think that he's the bad guy and thenyou start to get more information about him. The idea of showing how the character came to beis very attractive."

After portraying the character twice in the past, Sheen can now explore another side ofhim. "One of the things in our story that I was most interested in was the idea of Lucian'srelationship to the animal in him," he continues. "Viktor used Lucian as a teenage boy to createmore Lycans. Lucian was so disturbed and traumatized by this experience that he reactedagainst this animal side of himself, and in fact spends his life up until the point of our story killingwerewolves.

"This gives Lucian a very strong inner journey. In trying to find freedom, he has toaccept something about himself that he has avoided his entire life. That takes the story slightlyfurther than just a myth."

Lucian also emerges as a leader for the first time, observes Sheen. "He is someone whois able to inspire brotherhood amongst people who have never felt it."

The film also reveals a new side of Viktor, the Vampire leader who plays a central role inthe other films. "We get to see why Viktor becomes the way he is in the first film," saysWiseman. "Bill brought a take on Viktor that was different from the one I first saw on the page.He brought a tone to it that I love and I think people get a kick out of his approach."

Tatopoulos praises Nighy's tremendous investment in the part. "You never know whatthe next thing's going to be, but you expect anything," he says. "Bill goes from a smile to thisincredible twisted face in a second. He's created a character that's on the edge of GrandGuignol. It makes him quite scary and intriguing."

Nighy's long career on stage and in film and television has made him one of Britain'smost honored actors, and he brings the same commitment to the Vampire ruler as he does tohis stage work. "Vampires are, by dint of being Vampires, cool," Nighy says. "Being seniorVampire, I get to snarl and sneer and to be tortured, too. He is of two minds about some of thestuff that he gets up to. You are led to believe that he has feelings of a kind of normal nature,but that he is emotionally challenged. This is a man who drinks his daughter's blood and thenarranges for her to be burnt to toast."

Viktor's relative youth in this film meant Nighy spent far less time in the makeup chair. "Ihad to spend six hours in prosthetic makeup for the first one, where I'd been asleep forhundreds of years and was, strictly speaking, fleshless," he remembers. "I also get to wear afull-length velvet skirt. It's not often that I have an excuse for that and it's liberating and kind offunky. I am fractionally Scottish, so it's almost legitimate for me to put on a kilt. Not that I oftendo. I did once though, and I was surprised at how satisfying it felt."

Actress Kate Beckinsale left an indelible mark on the Underworld franchise with herfierce portrayal of Selene, the Death Dealer, in the first two chapters. Rhona Mitra was initiallyapprehensive about joining a franchise so closely associated with, as she says, "another British,brunette actress. Once I understood it was a prequel and a complete departure in terms of thecharacter, I knew I could carve out something for myself."

The filmmakers praise Mitra's ability to capture the contradictory elements of Sonja'spersonality. "It was very hard to find somebody with the toughness you need from the DeathDealer, who also has a vulnerable side," says Wiseman. "I think it's a very difficult thing to pulloff as deftly as Rhona has."

The character reminds Tatopoulos of Selene in many ways. "Sonja is to me thearchetype for Selene," he says. "Sonja is a warrior, but there's something very fragile in her aswell. She's definitely a strong fighter, but emotionally she's very charged as well. And she canbecome quite sensitive."

Playing the Vampire assassin is an entirely new experience for Mitra. "This is a completedeparture from any roles that I have played," she says. "She is incredibly empowered. Sonja is aquite passionate female who embodies all of these warrior-like qualities, but also this wonderfulfemininity. It is quite seductive and enticing."

Even though she is a newcomer to the franchise, Mitra says her co-stars made herimmediately comfortable on set. "I had never worked with Bill or Michael before. Bill is a rockstar in his own right. He lends himself so brilliantly and so gracefully to the Vampire world. AndMichael's preparation for this role was really exemplary. People always say, 'Oh, I'm so blessed,and it's such an honor' but it genuinely was. The bar was set high and I had to rise to theoccasion."

When Kevin Grevioux was creating the complex universe of Underworld, he made sureto include a juicy part for himself: Lucian's lieutenant, Raze. In Underworld: Rise of theLycans, he has an opportunity to explore the origins of the character. "In this story, we finallydeal with how he came to be a Lycan and how he came to have this special relationship withLucian," Grevioux says. "Raze was somebody that Lucian trusted, a powerful human among theslaves, which is why Lucian wanted him in his Lycan family."

Steven Mackintosh again plays Tannis, the Vampire archivist. "I wasn't creating acharacter from scratch," he says. "But there is a difference. The earlier incarnation of Tannis isdifferent. By the time we catch up with him in Evolution, he's been in hiding for quite a long timeand he's living this slightly profligate life. I liken him to the Hugh Hefner of the Vampire world bythat time."

The reassembled cast quickly adjusted to their new director. "Patrick has been incrediblyego-free," says Sheen. "And it's been great to see him relishing his role on this film and reallytaking on that whole thing. And of course he's brought his brilliant visual sense to this film. Itlooks amazing."

Veteran actor Nighy also speaks highly of Tatopoulos. "I can't say enough aboutPatrick-he was absolutely brilliant. I ceased to think of him as a first-time director about halfway through the first day. He was impeccable and endlessly courteous. He's charming, sharpand smart; and his background in design and special effects and creatures stood us in verygood stead."

Mitra concurs: "What was so wonderful was how in touch he was with his crew. Thatcreated a happy set. Everybody was respected. I think that his level of humility is really evidentalong with his ability to listen to what people want and what people need."

Underworld Rise of the Lycans

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