The Underworld franchise boasted a female lead character in Kate Beckinsale (and Rhona Mitra as her spiritual-predecessor in the third film, a prequel) at a point where that wasn’t especially prevalent. But the most recent entry, Underworld: Blood Wars will be the first installment to also feature a female director calling the shots — one who’s a big fan of the series.
The original Underworld didn’t necessarily garner overwhelmingly positive reviews, but it won over a loyal fan base with a unique urban-fantasy aesthetic, interesting characters, and a surprisingly complex internal mythology.
One such fan was director Anna Foerster, who is now directing the fifth installment and said as much in a new interview with Collider:
“I have seen the first two movies, the first one I saw it when it just came out it was quite extraordinary especially as a visual piece and creating a world that I have not seen before at that time. I mean later a lot of people copied it in different way. I think at the time this was one of the movies that kind of set a specific standard for the genre and I was a big fan of the look and the vibe and the tone of it.”
However, she was less enamored of the fourth installment, which followed up a prequel (where Kate Beckinsale didn’t appear) with a return for the actress that moved the series’ timeline into a dystopian future setting. Explained the filmmaker:
“To me it became more like a futuristic science fiction piece and what missed for me is that balance with mythology and history were two 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 they’re 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.”
Originally a collaboration between Beckinsale and director Len Wiseman, the Underworld series is set in a world where an aristocratic class of vampires and an army of formerly-enslaved lycans (werewolves) have been fighting a secret underground war for centuries. As of the fourth film, Selene (Beckinsale) has found herself reawakened in a future where both groups are hunted by humans who have become aware of their existence; where she attempts to protect her daughter and locate her missing half-vampire/half-lycan lover Michael.
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