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Sandrine Holt

BIG READ: Making of UNDERWORLD AWAKENING

Published February 7, 2012 on Vancouver is Awesome

The return of Kate Beckinsale and her cat suit powered supernatural thriller Underworld Awakening to a weekend North American box office win of $25 million+ for its late January opening but critics blasted the fourth installment of the franchise for its weak storyline. U4 box office halved for its second weekend and then halved again last weekend. I saw the film last week in 3D and enjoyed watching Beckinsale and her stunt double playing kickass-cool vampire Selene and Simon Fraser University as its unmistakable self playing nefarious bio-tech company Antigen.

Vengeance Returns is the Underworld Awakening tagline. Here is a plot synopsis with spoilers: Not long after the events of Underworld Evolution, vampire Selene and her hybrid vampire/Lycan lover Michael Corvin are captured during The Purge, a crusade by humans to rid the world of vampires and Lycans (evolved werewolfs who can shift between wolf and human form). Twelve years later, Selene is freed from cryogenic suspension in Antigen headquarters by her and Corvin’s vampire/Lycan hybrid daughter Eve — a daughter Selene never knew she had with a lover who appears to be dead. Antigen claims to be developing an antidote for the virus that creates vampires and Lycans, but is really run by Lycans who are injecting Eve’s hybrid blood into themselves to create a race of super Lycans, impervious to silver and with enhanced abilities and size.

Unfortunately Scott Speedman declined to return as Selene’s lover Michael Corvin in the fourth film so we only see him in flashbacks or as a blurred figure in Underworld Awakening. New to this Vancouver-shot movie franchise about vampires and werewolves that predates the Twilight craze is human Detective Sebastian played by Michael Ealy of The Good Wife (see photo below).

After a brief recap of the Underworld saga so far, the new film opens with scenes of a genocide of not one but two species — vampires and Lycans — that was filmed mainly downtown. For example, crew set up a security checkpoint with police/SWAT extras on Hamilton Street outside Pappas Furs for filming on May 1st last year. Read More »BIG READ: Making of UNDERWORLD AWAKENING

BIG READ: SANCTUARY Takes Amanda Tapping and its Green Screens Outside

Published May 20, 2011 on Vancouver is Awesome

I did not expect to be able to feature all-Canadian sci-fi success story Sanctuary in this series because it almost never goes on location, filming everything on greenscreen at its Burnaby soundstage, with virtually no physical sets whatsoever. And then a friend of a friend’s husband watched Sanctuary bring its greenscreens outside a week ago to film a bloodied and beat-up Amanda Tapping at a nearby office complex, masquerading as an airport on the Indian Ocean islands of Comoros.

When I arrived, I joked with Sanctuary crew about the number of green travelling mattes (used for special effects) they’d brought to a real location, including a stack of smaller sizes on a cart at the back of their studio, an immense street-width screen by the Departs door and one regular-sized screen at the Arrive door. This is where I photographed guest star Sandrine Holt and Sanctuary star Amanda Tapping already in character and about to turn around to the camera to meet guest stars Carlo Rota ( 24 and Little Mosque on the Prairie) and Martin Cummins (V and Shattered) on the steps above. Sanctuary had filmed explosions the day before at Mammoth studios and Tapping did not go unscathed: wardrobe had dressed her in an artfully ripped sweater and bandaged arm and makeup painted blood on her knees.

Who is Amanda Tapping? She is our Queen of Sci-fi after ten seasons in combat boots on Stargate SG-1 as scientist-soldier Samantha Carter, followed by more seasons as Carter on Stargate spinoffs and then coming-up-on-four seasons in stilettos on Sanctuary as immortal 160-something Dr. Helen Magnus from Victorian England, who rescues genetic mutants called Abnormals and harbours them in her stately gothic mansion overlooking the fictional Old City in the modern world.

What makes Sanctuary so unique is that this castle-like facility doesn’t exist, except as an empty set with some minimal props Read More »BIG READ: SANCTUARY Takes Amanda Tapping and its Green Screens Outside

BIG READ: UNDERWORLD AWAKENING at Simon Fraser University

Published March 2011 on Vancouver is Awesome

I am happy to confirm the Kate Beckinsale catsuit is back and in 3D for the fourth film in the Underworld series. I didn’t get to see Kate Beckinsale in it but her Selene stunt double wore it when she jumped off the top floor of the Simon Fraser University Library last Friday night onto a moving truck — twice.

Underworld Awakening marks a return to the story of vampire Selene who, according to a leaked plot synopsis, finds out she has a teenage “vampire/Lycan hybrid daughter” and together they must stop bio-tech company Antigen from “creating super Lycans that will kill them all”. For those who missed the earlier Selene films and the gory Underworld: Return of the Lycans, a Lycan is an evolved werewolf who can shift between wolf and human form. In other words, Underworld is a movie franchise about vampires and werewolves that predates the Twilight craze and films partly in Vancouver.

Students at Simon Fraser University spotted WORLD production signs late last week. One fortunate enough to be enrolled in a librarian program there had a prime seat to watch an Underworld 4 stunt woman do some camera test jumps off the library’s top floor a week ago. Although the stunt crew had planned to do three jumps last Thursday, a roll of thunder claps delayed the third one, the stunt woman told me. Then a sudden snow squall on Burnaby Mountain forced the crew to pack up entirely to return the next day for the last camera test. At nightfall Friday, Underworld 4 lit up the east side of the grey concrete library with klieg lights and the blonde stuntwoman put on Selena’s black cat suit and a black wig to do two jumps for the camera, one after the other, to a burst of applause from the crew and a few bystanders.

Despite rumours, Kate Beckinsale herself did not appear at SFU. She had left Vancouver to celebrate her director husband Les Wiseman (who is producing but not directing the fourth film)’s birthday. That didn’t stop two male students from yelling “Kate” Read More »BIG READ: UNDERWORLD AWAKENING at Simon Fraser University