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Wednesday, January 4, 2017

Underworld 4K Ultra HD Blu-ray Review

Reviewed by Jami Ferguson
In the Underworld, Vampires are a secret clan of modern aristocratic sophisticates whose mortal enemies are the Lycans (werewolves), a shrewd gang of street thugs who prowl the city’s underbelly. No one knows the origin of their bitter blood feud, but the balance of power between them turns even bloodier when a beautiful young Vampire warrior and a newly-turned Lycan with a mysterious past fall in love. Kate Beckinsale and Scott Speedman star in this modern-day, action-packed tale of ruthless intrigue and forbidden passion ¬ all set against the dazzling backdrop of a timeless, Gothic metropolis. Directed by Len Wiseman from a screenplay by Danny McBride and based on a story by Kevin Grevioux and Len Wiseman & Danny McBride, Underworld has received a High Dynamic Range (HDR) upgrade, and includes all bonus materials from previous Blu-ray releases. The film arrives on 4K, just in time to get fans excited for the next installment in the franchise, Underworld: Blood Lines.
Film (4 out of 5 stars)
Vampires and Lycans (Werewolves) have been enemies for centuries.  The blood feud dates back to the days when Vampires used Lycans as daylight guardians and slaves. Modern vampires are sophisticated, and view themselves as the top of the food chain. Selene (Kate Beckinsale) is a Vampire death dealer who has been working tirelessly to hunt the Lycans to extinction. 

During a recent fight with a small pack of Lycans, Selene discovers that they were targeting a human. This human, Michael Corvin (Scott Speedman), is a descendent of the first true immortal. Michael will become very important to both Vampires and Lycans, and personally to Selene.

When the leader of their coven, Kraven (Shane Brolly) refuses to listen to Selene’s concerns she turns to the elder Viktor (Bill Nighy) for guidance.  When Michael’s purpose is revealed Selene will find herself fighting both Lycans and Vampires to protect Michael.

Underworld is not your typical vampire movie.  It is more of an action movie that happens to have supernatural creatures than a horror flick.  Kate Beckinsale is tough as nails as the leather clad death dealer and her supporting cast delivers throughout.  Underworld is one of my favorite movies of all time and it does not feel old or dated, even though it was originally released over a decade ago.
Video (4 out of 5 stars)
Underworld has a very unique look to it.   The movie is either on dark European streets at night, indoors or underground.   The film is mostly black with a blue tint to it.  There are almost no bursts of color to jump out at you, even when the blood begins to flow.  The glowing ultraviolet ammunition is the one exception.  The pale undead skin tones of the vampires fairs well in ultra-high definition.  The city and the mansion feel as ancient as the vampires, with a very regal feel.  Textures are noticeable in masonry and clothing. The film fared well on Blu-ray and is extremely well suited for 4K.
Audio (4 1/2 out of 5 stars)
Underworld’s 4K UHD release comes with a Dolby Atmos upgraded soundtrack.  The immersive sound hits you as the opening sequence begins.  The track for the entire film is engaging and powerful, while still well balanced.  You’ll feel the bullets whiz past your head and feel the weight of each Lycan step.  All channels are engaged, with the bass dominating but not overpowering.  Fans should not be disappointed with this release.
Extras (3 1/2 out of 5 stars)
Underworld’s 4K UHD release includes all of the special features from the Blu-ray including:
  • Commentary – Director Len Wiseman and Actors Kate Beckinsale and Scott Speedman provide interesting anecdotes in this feature length commentary.
  • Outtakes – Line flubs, prop fails and a lighter funnier atmosphere than you’d expect on such a dark film.
  • Featurettes – Available individually or with play all function:
    • Fang vs. Fiction – A look back at the origins of the vampire and werewolf mythologies.  Modern day members of the supernatural subcultures are interviewed.  Connections between the vampire and werewolf are explored and 21st century scientific thinking is applied to the idea of these creatures.
    • The Making of Underworld – Your basic behind the scenes featurette that touches on writing, acting, stunts and more.  Includes interviews with cast and crew.
    • The Visual Effects of Underworld – VFX Supervisor and Executive Producer James McQuade explains the effects tools used on the film with added details from the film’s editor.
    • Creature Effects – A look at the monsters that make the film work.  The Director discusses his choices to use practical monsters, favoring prosthetics over computer generated creatures.
    • Stunts – See how they made the characters fly, fall and dodge bullets.  Includes footage of stunt training for the actors and some moments when it doesn’t go perfectly.
    • Designing Underworld – Production Designer and Director discuss the collaborative effort to create the combination of both an old world and modern feel.
    • The Look of Underworld – The Director’s vision for a living breathing graphic novel is explored.
    • Sights and Sounds – Everything you’ll hear and see in a behind the scenes montage.
    • Storyboard Comparison – A handful of scenes with side by side comparison to the original storyboards.
  • Music Video - Finch: "Worms of the Earth"
Summary (4 out of 5 stars)
Underworld looked great on Blu-ray and continues to do so in 4K ultra high definition.  The upgrade is more noticeable in the audio department but the video quality remains excellent.  The supplemental features aren’t new but do offer an interesting glimpse into the film-making process and the supernatural lore.  It is obvious that the film was upgraded, rather than mastered in 4K but I’m not complaining because it looks and sounds great.  Highly Recommended.

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