Underworld (a J!-ENT 4K Ultra HD Review)
January 5, 2017 by Dennis Amith
If you love vampires and werewolves and love popcorn action films, “Underworld: Unrated” is definitely recommended! Featuring a Blu-ray release with fantastic PQ, amazing AQ and plenty of special features… overall, if you are a fan of the film, “Underworld” is a 4K Ultra HD release worth checking out!
© 2003 Subterranean Productions LLC. All Rights Reserved..
DATE OF FILM RELEASE: 2003
DURATION: 121 Minutes
BLU-RAY INFORMATION: 2160p Ultra High Definition (2:35:1 aspect ratio), English Dolby Atmos (Dolby TrueHD 7.1 compatible), Italian and French 5.1 DTS-HD MA. SUBTITLES: English SDH, French and Italian
COMPANY: Columbia Pictures/Sony Pictures Home Entertainment
RATED: R (Strong Violence, Gore and Some Language)
RELEASE DATE: December 27, 2016
Directed by Len Wiseman
Story by Kevin Grevioux, Len Wiseman, Danny McBride
Screenplay by Danny McBride
Produced by Gary Lucchesi, Tom Rosenberg, Richard S. Wright
Executive Producer: Robert Bernacchi, Terry McKay, James McQuade, Skip Williamson, Henry Winterstern
Associate Producer: Kevin Grevioux, Danny McBride
Music by Paul Haslinger
Cinematography by Tony Pierce-Roberts
Edited by Martin Hunter
Production Design by Bruton Jones
Art Direction by Kevin Phipps, Csaba Stork
Set Decoration by Malcolm Stone
Costume Design by Wendy Partridge
Kate Beckinsale as Selene
Scott Speedman as Michael Corvin
Michael Sheen as Lucian
Shane Brolly as Kraven
Bill Nighy as Viktor
Erwin Leder as Singe
Sophia Myles as Erika
Robbie Gee as Kahn
Wentworth Miller as Dr. Adam Lockwood
Kevin Grevioux as Raze
Zita Gorog as Amelia
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.
In 2003, the action/horror film “Underworld” was released in theaters.
Directed by Len Wiseman (“Live Free and Die Hard”, “Underworld: Evolution”) and written by Danny McBride, the first film would receive mixed reviews from critics but would make over $95 million in the box office.
The film would star actress Kate Beckinsale (“Aviator”, “Pearl Harbor”), Scott Speedman (“Felicity”, “The Strangers”), Shane Brolly (“Spread”, “Devils Highway”), Michael Sheen (“Kingdom of Heaven”, “Alice in Wonderland”, “Frost/Nixon”) and Billy Nighy (“Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, Part 1”, “Love Actually”, “Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Man’s Chest”).
And now “Underworld” makes its way to 4K Ultra HD. It’s important to note that this is the regular version of the film and not the “Unrated” extended version of the film.
“Underworld” takes place during a time where the vampires and the Lycans (werewolves) are at war. In the past, the Lycans were used as slaves for centuries by the vampires but rebelled courtesy of their leader Lucian and have been in war since.
For vampire/Death Dealer, Selene (played by Kate Beckinsale), her job is to hunt down the Lycans. When she was young, her family was massacred by the Lycans and thus she was taken in by vampire leader Victor (played by Bill Nighy) and given immortal life by being transformed into a vampire. So, she despises the Lycans and assassinates them. It is said that the Lycans were defeated many centuries ago when their leader Lucian (played by Michael Sheen) was killed and the Lycans that are remaining are survivors that must be eliminated.
But one day, as the vampires were hunting down the Lycans at a subway station, the Lycans fight back and the vampire/Death Dealer Rigel is killed. She tracks them down to their den and another vampire is killed by a Lycan named Raze. When Selene goes to investigate, she finds out that the Lycans have developed a new type of bullet to kill vampires.
When she arrives back to the vampire coven’s mansion, she goes to tell current vampire regent Kraven (played by Shane Brolly) what she discovered but is told to drop it. Selene doesn’t understand why they would drop such important developments and when she goes to do more research, she realizes that the Lycans are following a human named Michael Corvin (played by Scott Speedman).
At the Lycan headquarters, we learn that their scientist Singe is testing blood on kidnapped descendants of the ancient Corvinus family to find a pure source of their ancient and powerful bloodline. Selene wonders why they are pursuing the human and she decides to help him, but in the process, he is bitten by Lucian.
Selene brings the injured Michael back to the vampire’s coven, against Kraven’s wishes. When one of the vampires goes to check on him, she finds a bite by a Lycan and realizes that the human will turn into a Lycan during a full moon. Shocked by the encounter, Michael runs away from the Vampire’s coven.
When Selene continues her research about Lucian, she realizes that only one vampire has witnessed his death and it was Kraven. What if there is a conspiracy and that Lucian is definitely alive, that means Kraven can not be trusted.
Selene manages to help Michael once again but this time, locking him up at a vampire lab area. She explains to him about why she has hatred towards the Lycans and what they did to her family but also learns more about Michael’s history and tells what will happen to him during a full moon.
So, she decides to break vampire tradition by waking up the powerful elder vampire Viktor (who is not supposed to be awaken for another century). As Selene tries to tell Viktor of what has happened, Viktor is more upset that Selene has broken a tradition that has been in place for many centuries and that Markus is to be the next elder vampire awakened, not him. And also, she has no proof that Lucian is alive.
And because she has broken a major rule, Kraven and the guards put Selene under house arrest to await punishment.
But for Selene, she knows there is a conspiracy and she must escape and save Michael before the Lycans and the vampires get to him.
“Underworld” is presented in 2160p High Definition (2:35:1). The film looks quite amazing despite the film primarily being shot with a lot of black and blues. The film was intentionally desaturated but during closeup scenes, you can see the skin pores on the talents face, the blue of the vampires eyes and for the most part, a good amount of detail can be seen from the leather clothing to the textures of objects and exteriors. Even the creature design of the werewolves were well-detailed.
If anything, “Underworld” looks absolutely fantastic in 4K Ultra HD!
IMPORTANT TO KNOW: To watch 4K Ultra HD, you will need a 4K UHD TV with HDR and an Ultra HD Blu-ray Player.
AUDIO & SUBTITLES:
“Underworld” is presented in English Dolby Atmost (Dolby TrueHD) 7.1 and Italian and French 5.1 DTS-HD MA.
The lossless soundtrack for this film is fantastic! The surrounds and rear surrounds were being utilized throughout the film. From the sounds of lightning, raindrops, glass shattering, bullets ricocheting, you name it… this is one heck of an immersive soundtrack.
Dialogue is crystal clear but it’s the action scenes that come alive with this lossless soundtrack. There are so many intensive action sequences involving machine gun fire that I was very impressed of seeing how immersive those sequences are! Audiophiles will love this soundtrack! I definitely did!
Subtitles are presented in English, English SDH, French and Italian.
“Underworld” comes with the following special features (Note: These are the same special features from the original Blu-ray release):
- Audio Commentary – Featuring a hilarious and insightful commentary by director Len Wiseman, actress Kate Beckinsale and actor Scott Speedman.
- Outtakes – (3:43) Featuring outtakes from “Underworld”.
- Fang vs. Fiction – (47:18) A documentary about vampires and werewolves and those who think they are vampire and werewolves living today.
- The Making of Underworld – (13:00) Featuring interviews with director Len Wiseman and the cast of “Underworld” plus behind-the-scenes making of the film.
- The Visual Effects of Underworld – (8:58) Featuring the VFX supervisors of the film discussing the making of the visual effects for the film.
- Creature Effects – (12:30) Creative designer Patrick Tatopulous talks about building the creatures for the film.
- Designing Underworld – (10:48) Bruton Jones (Production Designer and Conceptual Artist) talks about designing “Underworld”.
- The Look of Underworld – (19:12) Director Len Wiseman discusses the look he wanted for “Underworld” and how he didn’t want it to seem like a normal city but something much darker.
- Sights and Sounds – (9:07) A featurette on the various sights (weapons) and sound effects for the film.
- Music Video – (2:48) Featuring the music video for “Worms of the Earth” by Finch.
- Storyboard Comparisons (6:42) Actual footage and storyboard comparisons.
“Underworld” will come with both the 4K Ultra HD and Blu-ray plus an UltraViolet Digital HD code. Also, a slipcover.
“Underworld” is your vampire vs. werewolf popcorn action film. Where there is a story that features why the Lycans and vampires are at war, it also plays out somewhat of a Romeo and Juliet story in a monstrous kind of way. What happens if a vampire and a Lycan were to merge? The first film of the trilogy goes into answering that question of why these two are at war but also what would result if they were to combine?
To be truthful, before watching this film, based on the trailer alone, I pretty much realized this was more of an action film rather than horror. Granted, you’re going to see werewolves mauling on vampires and vampires attacking the Lycans but there is more reliance in these films towards weapon usage. I understand the mythology of silver bullets to kill a vampire but would a bullet really be needed to kill vampires? I suppose that it goes against the banality of the typical film using garlic, crosses and stakes but I found it rather intriguing to see these vampires utilizing powerful weaponry.
But what “Underworld” does have going for it is its action. It’s strictly a popcorn action film and with actress Kate Beckinsale wearing a tight leather uniform, kicking major ass and with the film demonstrating a stylish, cool presentation, especially with its use of blues and blacks and saturated colors.
I also felt that the makeup and creature design were fantastic for this film as with the visual effects.
There are a few things about this 4K Ultra HD release that I do need to point out. For one, this is not the “unrated” extended version. And when the “unrated” version on Blu-ray was released back in 2007, I absolutely loved it! But this is the regular version at 121 minutes, the unrated extended version was 134 minutes and I did enjoy the “unrated” version a lot more than the original version.
So, I know it’s subjective, but I wish the “unrated” extended version was released in 4K Ultra HD.
As for the 4K Ultra HD release, the picture quality is fantastic and the lossless soundtrack was absolutely amazing! And to top things off, there are a good number of special features included especially a wild and crazy audio commentary and the “Fang vs. Fiction” documentary. All these special features are from the Blu-ray release, so there is really nothing new added with this 4K Ultra HD release in terms of special features.
So, is it worth upgrading to 4K Ultra HD? If you love the film, then you will definitely want to upgrade to better picture quality and lossless audio. 4K Ultra HD is primarily for the videophiles and audiophiles who want the best quality and have the hardware to support it.
Overall, while “Underworld” is not a film that focuses on a deep storyline, I found it rather intriguing and action-packed, especially the utilization of the film’s characters and how things were setup for the sequel.
If you love vampires and werewolves and love popcorn action films, “Underworld” is definitely recommended!
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