Although vampire flick Underworld (2003) wasn't an outright blockbuster, it did well enough to warrant a sequel. In Underworld: Evolution, Kate Beckinsale once again dons her patent leather pants and plastic fangs, which did little to warm up the critics but certainly put bums on seats. For Kate's husband and director Len Wiseman this franchise is all about carnal desire and "cartoon splatter".
Something To Sink Your Teeth Into
Those who were baffled by the convoluted plot won't be much the wiser after seeing the Script To Screen featurette. It hears from almost everyone involved with the film except for scriptwriter Danny McBride. Instead there are those predictable justifications that this film is 'bigger and better' than the last and Beckinsale reckons that it "gives you an opportunity to go into a different world." Wiseman says that he signed up for the sequel because it gave him "the ability to tell a lot more of the history" of the characters, but he doesn't address the challenges of balancing these needs with a fast-paced plot.
Thankfully the featurettes dealing with practical and visual effects are a little more informative. Hybrid Theory takes a look at the use of miniatures for the big action set pieces while Making Monsters Roar follows the design, construction and testing of the werewolf suits. Wiseman explains that it was a long process since the suits had to allow the stuntmen a full range of movement. We also get a behind-the-scenes look at how these stunts were achieved in The War Rages On. Stunt co-ordinator Brad Martin talks about the influence of Eastern cinema on the fight scenes, most of which were done using wires.
Production design is the focus for Building A Saga. Whereas the first film had a run down urban landscape, the sequel is set against a rural backdrop in the wilds of the Canadian Rockies. Wiseman describes it as "a period film with automatic weapons". Making those weapons blast till your eardrums bleed was the job of sound designer Scott Gershin, who gets to talk more about this as well as the inevitable slurping and screeching effects in Music & Mayhem. Composer Marco Beltrami reveals that he collaborated closely with the sound department to create a harmonious mix of violins and dying maidens...
For the feature commentary, Wiseman is joined by editor Nick De Toth, production designer Patrick Tatopoulos and stunt co-ordinator Brad Martin. Together they cover most of the bases, talking about the blend of CG effects and animatronics, gloomy lighting and quick cutting for maximum scares. Of course whether they're successful or not is open to debate. There is a light-hearted feel to this track with Wiseman sharing anecdotes about filming on a cabbage field (pew...) and reports of Steven Mackintosh (playing Andreas Tanis) pepping himself up during difficult scenes with utterances of, "Think of the money, think of the money..."
A music video for Her Portrait In Black rounds off the extras menu. Unlike Ms Beckinsale, it's not exactly bursting at the seams, but together they do shed quite a bit of light on the business of making a vampire flick.