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Underworld: Evolution (a J!-ENT Blu-ray Disc Review)

June 9, 2010 by  



If you love vampires and werewolves and love popcorn action films, “Underworld: Evolution” is a movie for you!  While more focused on the relationship between Selene and Michael and the two facing insurmountable odds, the film is still a heavy action-driven film and an entertaining sequel.

Images courtesy of © 2006 Lakeshore Entertainment Group LLC. All Rights Reserved.

TITLE: Underworld: Evolution

FILM RELEASE: 2006

DURATION: 106 Minutes

BLU-RAY DISC INFORMATION: 1080p High Definition (2:40:1), English PCM 5.1 (Uncompressed), English 5.1, French 5.1, Subtitles: English, English SDH, French, Chinese, Portuguese, Spanish

COMPANY: Sony Pictures Home Entertainment

RATED: R (For Pervasive Strong Violence and Gore.  Some Sexuality, Nudity and Language.

Release Date: June 20, 2006

Directed by Len Wiseman

Story by Kevin Grevioux, Len Wiseman, Danny McBride

Screenplay by Danny McBride

Produced by David Coatsworth, Gary Lucchesi, Tom Rosenberg, Richard S. Wright

Co-Producer: Kevin Grevioux

Executive Producer: Danny McBride, Terry McKay, James McQuaide, Skip Williamson, Henry Winterstern, Len Wiseman

Associate Producer: Kevin Grevioux, Danny McBride

Music by Marco Beltrami

Cinematography by Simon Duggan

Edited by Nicolas De Toth

Casting by Deborah Aquila, Jennifer L. Smith, Tricia Wood

Production Design by Bruton Jones

Art Direction by Chris August

Set Decoration by Lin MacDonald

Costume Design by Wendy Partridge

Starring:

Kate Beckinsale as Selene

Scott Speedman as Michael Corvin

Tony Curran as Marcus

Derek Jacobi as Corvinus

Michael Sheen as Lucian

Shane Brolly as Kraven

Bill Nighy as Viktor

Zita Gorog as Amelia

Steven Mackintosh as Tanis

Brian Steele as William

Scott McElroy as Soren

John Mann as Samuel

Mike Mukatis as Taylor

Kate Beckinsale is back as vampire heroine Selene in the highly anticipated sequel to Underworld. Underworld Evolution continues the saga of war between the aristocratic Death Dealers and the barbaric Lycans (werewolves). The film traces the beginnings of the ancient feud between the two tribes as Selene (Kate Beckinsale), the vampire heroine, and her love Michael (Scott Speedman), the lycan hybrid, try to unlock the secrets of their bloodlines. The tale of action, intrigue and forbidden love takes them into the battle to end all wars as the immortals must finally face their retribution.

With the success of the first “Underworld” film, the second film “Underworld: Evolution” in the planned trilogy was released in 2006.

Directed by Len Wiseman (“Live Free and Die Hard”, “Underworld: Evolution”) and written by Danny McBride, while the second film was not a favorite among critics, many praised it’s blue-tinged artistic style (while some criticized as well), and the popcorn action/horror film would do well in the box office, earning over $111 million.

The film would feature the return of 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”), Sophia Myles (“Outlander”, “Tristan + Isolde”) and Billy Nighy (“Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, Part 1”, “Love Actually”, “Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Man’s Chest”).  The film would also star Tony Curran (“Gladiator”, “The League of Extraordinary Gentleman”) and Derek Jacobi (“Gladiator”, “The King’s Speech”, “Henry V”).

It’s important to note that “Underworld: Evolution” is the first of the “Underworld” films in the trilogy to be released and was among the first films to be released on Blu-ray.

“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.

Please note that if you have not watched “Underworld”, you may not want to read the summary as it does include spoilers for the first film.

In the first film, Selene who has fought and killed Lycans believing that they were responsible for her family’s massacre learned from Kraven that Viktor was responsible for her family’s death.  With Michael near death due to the silver nitrate in his body that was shot by Kraven, Lucian (who was revealed to have started the war because he was in love with Sonja, a vampire and daughter of Viktor and was killed by her father to stop the relationship between a vampire and Lycan) tells Selene that in order to save him, she must bite him.

Selene has bitten Michael and transforming him to half Lycan/half vampire and both killed Viktor.  Meanwhile, the next elder vampire that is in line to be revived is Marcus and because Singe was killed near Marcus’ tomb and his blood has dripped into his tomb, that Marcus will now be revived early.

The first film would with Selene knowing that she has changed the course of the war by converting Michael by making him half vampire/half Lycan and because she aided a Lycan, she will now be hunted.

“Underworld: Evolution” begins with the three vampire elders: Marcus, Viktor and Amelia in the year 1202 A.D.  Viktor and Amelia capture William Corvinus (brother of Marcus who happens to be a powerful Lycan).  As Marcus tries to defend his brother from being harmed, Viktor has William imprisoned in a secret location for eternity.

Fastforward to the present, Selene hides Michael in a safehouse but returns to the vampire coven to confront Kraven.  She knows that Kraven has plans to eliminate Marcus and wants to stop him before he does.  But because Lycan blood is what has dripped into Marcus’ tomb, Marcus has now reawaken as a Vampire-Dominant hybrid.

And when Marcus awakens, Kraven and his men are to kill him but Marcus is too powerful and eliminates everyone.  When he bites into Kraven and tastes his blood, he learns of Kraven’s truce with Lucian in creating a hybrid vampire/Lycan but also how Kraven was trying to eliminate the elders and thus is killed for his treachery.

As Selene and Michael try to find a safe place to hide, Selene knows that Michael is getting hungry and tells him to feed on blood.  As Selene leaves and plans to go to the vampire coven, Michael tries to see if he can eat like a human by eating normal food.  As he goes to a restaurant to eat, he starts eating food but then suddenly feels sick.  Immediately, his face shows up on the news as a wanted man and police begin chasing after him and shooting at him.

Selene can hear the gunshots miles away and knows Michael is in trouble, but most alarming is the ominous black figure that has flown into the area.   As she rescues him from trouble, she gives her own blood to feed him but both are attacked by Marcus.

And Marcus attacks the two with great power but working together, they manage to temporarily escape from him and Michael also manages to steal a pendant from Marcus.

Needing some answers of why Marcus is after them, the two go to visit the exiled vampire historian named Andrea Tanis (played by Steven Mackintosh).  Tanis reveals that Marcus, not Viktor, is the first vampire and one of the three sons of Alexander Corvinus, the first immortal.  Markus was bitten by a bat and became a vampire, his twin brother William was bitten by a wolf and became a Lycan.  The third son, a human is responsible for a line of descendants including Michael, who had the anti-body and eventually become the first vampire-Lycan hybrid.

It is also learned that the first werewolves created by William were animal and unable to become human.  It was also revealed that Viktor was actually a human warlord, turned to a vampire by Marcus and in return, was to create an army of immortal vampires in exchange for tracking down and stopping William and those he had infected.

But Selene also learns the true reason why Viktor spared her from death when her family was massacred and why they were massacred.  And because of that reason, Markus is wanting to get to her as well.

Will Selene and Michael be ready for a fight against the powerful Marcus?

VIDEO:

“Underworld: Evolution” is presented in 1080p High Definition (2:40:1). It’s important to note that this film came out before the first film on Blu-ray and is one of the earlier films to be released on Blu-ray.  With that being said, the film maintains the blues and blacks of the first film, closeups once again showcase the skinpores of a character, the stubble and for the most part, detail is incredible.  Black levels are nice and deep, objects are full of detail and texture on clothing is amazing.

“Underworld: Evolution”, while an earlier Blu-ray release is still a remarkable early Blu-ray release!  Picture quality is fantastic!

AUDIO & SUBTITLES:

“Underworld: Unrated” is presented in English PCM 5.1 (Uncompressed), English and French. The lossless soundtrack for this film is fantastic! As the first film was fantastic when it came to lossless, even this second film, an earlier release is still fantastic and immersive.  Although mentioned as 5.1, I was getting a 7.2 soundtrack as the surrounds and rear surrounds were being featured quite a bit throughout the film. From the sounds of a helicopter, clanging of swords, horses trotting, machine guns firing, explosions galore…., you name it… this is one heck of an immersive soundtrack where the surround channels and LFE are well-utilized.

Dialogue is crystal clear but it’s the action scenes, like the first film that come alive with this lossless soundtrack.

Subtitles are presented in English, English SDH, French, Chinese, Portuguese and Spanish.

SPECIAL FEATURES

“Underworld: Evolution” comes with the following special features:

  • Audio Commentary – Featuring an insightful commentary by director Len Wiseman, production designer Patrick Tatopoulos, second unit director Brad Martin and editor Nick De Toth.
  • Bloodlines: From Script to Screen – (13:26) Featuring interviews with cast and crew and discussion about the overall story, screenplay to feature film.
  • The Hybrid Theory – (13:00) A featurette on the visual effects of “Underworld: Evolution”.
  • Making Monsters Roar – (11:56) Featuring  the creation of the prosthetics and costumes and what improvements were made over the first film.
  • The War Rages On – (9:54) The stunts on “Underworld: Evolution”.
  • Building a Saga – (12:57) The production design of “Underworld: Evolution”.
  • Music and Mayhem – (11:50) A look of how music from Marco Beltrami and sound was created for “Underworld: Evolution”.

When I reviewed “Underworld”, I used “Romeo & Juliet” to describe the storyline.  The character of Seline as the vampire and Michael, a human bitten by a Lycan.  While the film didn’t end with tragedy for these two protagonists (as Michael bit into Michael and making him into a vampire/werewolf hybrid), it was a given that these two will become a major target in the second film, hated by both sides.

In the first film, we know that Kraven was up to no good and Erika (played by Sophia Miles) had plans for her own. Somehow this storyline must have gotten ditched because on the opening sequence, Kraven is literally ripped apart and Erika, I don’t even recall her being in the film.

But the first film did leave us with a tidbit that the elder vampire Marcus would be awakened and thus, because Lycan blood has been dripped into his tomb, he now has become a vampire on the rampage because of how his werewolf twin brother William was treated.

Unfortunately, what I enjoyed about the original film…the focus on the war between the vampire and Lycans was not focused on so much in “Underworld: Evolution”.  If anything, the focus was more on this bond between the two lovers, Selene and Michael.  Two people who have joined together and now must face incredible odds.  And at first, I was a bit unsure about how I felt about this movie until I saw the third film, “Underworld: The Rise of the Lycans” and realized that what these two are facing, a similar situation happened centuries ago to Lycan Lucian and vampire Sonja.

And in a way, years before “Twilight” became so popular and years after Buffy and Angel, there is something about a romance between a vampire and human (or in this case, human turned Lycan) and both trying to survive while in love, is rather romantic, despite this film being a bit violent.

In “Underworld: Evolution”, you do get to see more of Selene kicking ass, but also see her more emotional side and knowing that she does love Michael.  As for the character of Michael, I suppose what many people want to see is if this hybrid of vampire and Lycan can kick butt!  And because of this hybrid union, what other special abilities does he have?

If anything, the “popcorn action” continues with “Underworld: Evolution” and I think that is what fans will most likely tune into… and it’s what the film does quite well, providing the audience with a lot of action.  The first film was never about a deep storyline, nor was this film like “Twilight” and focused about emotions and love.  While we know these two individuals are in love, they are also being hunted down constantly, so no weepy emotional scenes in this film.

And for the Blu-ray release, fans who loved the first film will definitely enjoy the picture and audio quality of this sequel, despite it being released on Blu-ray first and is an earlier Blu-ray release.  Once again, the film looks stylish with its reliance on blues and blacks, audio is immersive and also, you get a good amount of special features.

Overall, “Underworld: Evolution” is a good film but with the third film a prequel, I can only hope there is a fourth film to help build some closure to the overall series and to see what happens with Selene and Michael as the film does leave us with another teaser.

If you enjoyed the first film and love popcorn action films, especially a film with a bit of gore, you’ll enjoy “Underworld: Evolution”!






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