SDCC 2011: Screen Gems: Underworld Awakening and Attack the Block

Mid-afternoon in Hall H on Friday at San Diego Comic Con was an interesting place to be when it came time for the Screen Gems panel.  As the studio had two films to plug, one being the fourth in a successful franchise that I have no real interest in and the other being a future cult classic in the making, which has little mainstream attention thus far.  Suffice it to say that this panel seemed like it would have very clear ups and downs for me; however, I came away moderately interested in Underworld Awakening and continuing to hope that Attack the Block becomes at least a mild success as far as limited release genre films are concerned.  It also helps that the presence of director Edgar Wright can make any panel incredibly enjoyable.

First up was Underworld Awakening, the fourth entry in the popular “Leathery Vampires vs. CG Lycans” franchise.  Comic Con’s schedule guide can once again provide an apt description for the film and its presentation:

Underworld Awakening brings a stunning new dimension to the epic battle between Vampires and Lycans as the first film in the franchise to shoot in 3D. Kate Beckinsale, star of the first two films, returns in her lead role as the vampire warrior Selene, who escapes imprisonment to find that humans have discovered the existence of both Vampire and Lycan clans and are conducting an all-out war to eradicate both immortal species. Appearing in person are Kate Beckinsale, Michael Ealy, Len Wiseman (producer and director of Underworld and Underworld: Evolution), and directors Mans Marlind and Bjorn Stein.

I know there are a lot of Underworld fans out there (it is vampires, after all), but I never warmed up to the first film and have not spent any time seeing the sequels.  With that said, seeing a panel about the latest installment did get me at least curious to check out the previous entries at some point to prepare for this one.  Aside from having Kate Beckinsale purposefully dressing up and looking great (I assume specifically for me) on the panel, the footage shown and the positive attitude from producer Len Wiseman did enough to keep me interested.

There was a two minute clip shown (in 3D, which the film is shot in) that had a lot of gunplay and tight leather action, which elicited plenty of cheers from the crowd.  The noticeable elements included a setting in which humans are now aware of vampires and lycans, the presence of Selene’s mysterious new daughter, and a lack of Scot Speedman’s character from the first two films (don’t put surprise cameo past this fact).  During the panel, Wiseman mentioned that the Underworld universe will be expanded on further with a number of anime shorts, which should be coming soon, most likely around the time of the new sequel’s release date.  Finally, much to my chagrin, after I made mention of Underworld going to space as a possibility to my friend sitting with me, this was shouted out as a question by someone behind me.  As a result, we have learned from Len Wiseman that the series will never be going into space, once again denying me of seeing the ultimate space opera battle between vampires and werewolves. Why oh why?

Underworld Awakening opens January 20, 2012 and is sure to please fans of the franchise thus far.

Next up for Screen Gems was the panel for the British alien invasion film Attack the Block, which was produced by Edgar Wright and has already won many over, including myself (as I have seen it twice at this point).  Here is Comic Con’s spiel about the film:

It’s the inner city vs. outer space from the producers of Shaun of the Dead and Hot Fuzz. Attack the Block follows a gang of tough inner-city kids who try to defend their turf against an invasion of savage alien creatures, turning a South London apartment complex into an extraterrestrial warzone. This is the film you’ve been hearing about since its debut at the South by Southwest Film Festival in Austin where it won the Midnight Screening Audience Award. Funny, frightening, surprising, wildly entertaining and winning rave reviews across the country. Appearing in person will be John Boyega (Moses), director Joe Cornish, and producer Edgar Wright.

I should point out that this panel was introduced and ended with the presence of music from the film (scored by Basement Jaxx) playing in the background, which leads me to believe that all panels involving Edgar Wright should have their own soundtrack.  This panel was unsurprisingly a lot of fun, as Edgar Wright has a very funny and witty personality, but also managed not to show up director Joe Cornish, who had the tough task of convincing thousands who had not already heard of Attack the Block to go and see it.  It was also endearing to see 19-year old star John Boyega appear at his first Comic Con, attempting to hold his own in the presence of two very entertaining filmmakers and 6,000 people within the audience by talking up the fourth season of The Wire as a big part of his inspiration when preparing for his role in the film.

As far as things that went down in the panel are concerned, the red-band trailer was shown (which I have posted below, but is spoiler heavy), followed later by a good 10-minute chunk of the film.  I found it confusing that the footage shown came from a very late portion of the film, which both has somewhat of a lack of context and essentially ruins the impact that the film has by being built to the point where it is at; however, the movie is so damn good that I wasn’t adverse to just kicking back and watching some of it again and if this leads to more people going to see the film, I can only hope that everything works out for this great film from debut film writer/director Joe Cornish.

Once entering the more Q&A heavy portions of the panel, a few interesting nuggets of information came out.  Cornish talked a lot about his deliberate choice to have practically created monsters for the film, as opposed to CG ones and described many of his influences in making this film.  Edgar Wright joked that they would tend to refer to it as “Super 8-Mile.”  Edgar Wright was asked about how far along he and actor Simon Pegg are in writing the third film in the so-called “Blood and Ice Cream Trilogy”, which so far includes Shaun of the Dead and Hot Fuzz.  Wright responded by stating that he and Pegg would be working on the script in the coming month.  There was also some talk about the surreal experience of being involved in The Adventures of Tintin, which Wright and Cornish both served as screenwriters on, as well as their work on Antman.  It was a lot of fun seeing this panel and I can only hope that that fun translates well to the big screen for the film.  Attack the Block opens in limited release on July 29, 2011 and will hopefully expand to more theaters from there forward.

A spoiler heavy trailer for Attack the Block here (Since I love the film, I would advise against watching and just going out to see it, but…):



2 Responses to “SDCC 2011: Screen Gems: Underworld Awakening and Attack the Block”

  1. Brian White

    I was bummed to have missed this panel.

  2. Mary

    I can’t wait to see this!