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Underworld: Blood Wars (a J!-ENT 4K Ultra HD Review)

April 16, 2017 by · Leave a Comment 

A worthy continuation of the “Underworld” film series that leans very heavy on the action, if you are looking for an all-out action film with vampires vs. werewolves, “Underworld: Blood Wars” will definitely appeal to you!

Images courtesy of © 2017 Lakeshore Entertainment Group, LLC. All Rights Reserved.


TITLE: Underworld: Blood Wars

DATE OF FILM RELEASE: 2017

DURATION: 91 Minutes

BLU-RAY INFORMATION: 2160p Ultra High Definition (2:40:1 aspect ratio), English Dolby Atmost (Dolby TrueHD 7.1 compatible), French 5.1 DTS-HD MA, English Audio Description Track 5.1 Dolby Digital, SUBTITLES: English, English SDH, French

COMPANY: Sony Pictures Home Entertainment

RATED: R (Strong Bloody Violence and Some Sexuality)

RELEASE DATE: April 25, 2017


Based on the Characters by Kevin Grevioux, Len wiseman, Danny McBride

Directed by Anna Foerster

Screenplay by Cory Goodman

Story by Kyle Ward, Cory Goodman

Producer: David Kern, Gary Lucchesi, Tom Rosenberg, Len Wiseman, Richard S. Wright

Co-Producer: David Minkowski, Jackie Shenoo, Matthew Stillman

Executive Producer: James McQuaide, Ben Waisbren, Skip Williamson, Henry Winterstern

Music by Michael Wandmacher

Cinematography by Karl Walter Lindenlaub

Edited by Peter Amundson

Casting by Julie Hutchinson, Maya Kvetny, Suzanne Smith

Production Design by Ondrej Nekvasil

Art Direction by Bryce Tibbey, Martin Vackar

Set Decoration by Beatrice Brentnerova

Costume Design by Bojana Nikitovic


Starring:

Kate Beckinsale as Selene

Theo James as David

Tobias Menzies as Marius

Lara Pulver as Semira

Charles Dance as Thomas

James Faulkner as Cassius

Peter Andersson as Vidar

Clementine Nicholson as Lena

Bradley James as Varga

Daisy Head as Alexia

Oliver Stark as Gregor

Sveta Driga as Amelia


In the next installment of the blockbuster franchise, Vampire death dealer Selene (Kate Beckinsale) fends off brutal attacks from both the Lycan clan and the Vampire faction that betrayed her. With her only allies, David (Theo James) and his father Thomas (Charles Dance), she must stop the eternal war between Lycans and Vampires, even if it means she has to make the ultimate sacrifice.


With the success of the “Underworld” films, the fifth film “Underworld: Blood Wars” continues the storyline about the war between the vampires and the Lycans (werewolves).

Directed by Anna Foerster (“Outlander” TV series) and as screenplay by Cory Goodman (“Priest”, “The Last Witch Hunter”), the film is a sequel to the fourth film, “Underworld: Awakening” and features the return of Kate Beckinsale as the immortal vampire Selene and Theo James as David.

The film also stars Lara Pulver (“Edge of Tomorrow”, “Da Vinci’s Demons”, “The Special Relationship”), Tobias Menzies (“Outlander”, “Casino Royale”, “Atonement”), Daisy Head (“The Last Seven”, “Guilt”), Clementine Nicholson, Charles Dance (“Ghostbusters”, “Alien 3”, “Game of thrones”), James Faulkner  (“Downton Abbey”, “Da Vinci’s Demons”, “Game of Thrones”), Bradley James (“Merlin”, “Damien”, “Dis/Connected”) and Oliver Stark (“Into the Badlands”, “Luther”, “MindGamers”).

What is “Underworld” about?

“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.

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.

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.

Alexander Corvinus has given Selene his blood and thus given immortality.

Since then, both Selene and Michael have been on the run trying to protect each other from both vampire and Lycan who want them dead.

Because creators of the “Underworld” films wanted to explain how the feud between the Death Dealers and the Lycans started.  “Underworld: Rise of the Lycans”, a prequel to the first two films, was created and released in theaters back in 2009.

With the fourth film, “Underworld: Awakening”, after the events of “Underworld: Evolution”, the world now knows that vampires and Lycans exist.  And there is a massive cleansing (known as “The Purge”) as humans now try to exterminate vampires and Lycans.  Survivors have now moved underground, while both Selene and Michael have become the hunted.

Split off from each other, both try to come together during a standoff with the authorities but as Michael is shot and falls into the ocean, Selene goes after him and tries to save him.  But in the process, both are separated by a detonator.

Fast forward, 12 years later and during this time, “The Purge” has now been concluded as 95% of the vampires have been annihilated and the Lycans are considered as extinct.

Selene is being kept inside a cryogenic suspension by the medical corporation known as Antigen, which are trying to create an antidote for the virus which creates vampires and Lycans

Known as “subject 1”, someone has broken into the lab facility and have released Selene.  As Selene awakens and puts on her leather costume, she looks for Michael but is not sure where he is kept and thus she escapes Antigen facilities.

eanwhile, murders are occurring in the city and while the normal judgment by police is to think that the vampires had committed the crime (since Lycans are thought to be extinct), Detective Sebastian (played by Michael Ealy), looking at how the body was murdered, doesn’t think so.  And he spots Selene, who quickly disappears.

But also spotting Selene is a young vampire named David (played by Theo James).  He goes to track down Selene, who is trying to find answers of where Michael may be.  When David tracks her down, he tells her the truth that the Lycans have been forced to live underground, no food, diseased and something has riled them up in order for them to go back up to the surface.  And he thinks Selene knows the answer to why the Lycans are back.

But Selene starts to see images, images that usually come from the bond that she has with Michael.  Thinking that Michael is in trouble and is being hunted by the Lycans, she and David fight them off but instead of finding Michael, she finds a young girl named Eve (played by India Eisely).

Why does girl have this power and why is Selene reacting to it?  As the three are pursued by the Lycans, Eve tells Selene that she was Subject 2 at Antigen and was responsible for setting her free.  She also revealed that she was in a chamber next to her mother…which would be Selene.  Needless to say, Selene is shocked because 12 years ago, she was with Michael.  Now when she awakens, instead of finding Michael, she finds out that both had a daughter.

This now leads us to the fifth film in the “Underworld” series, things are not looking good for the vampire covens as they are nearly wiped out by the Lycans.  Both groups are seeking out Death Dealer, Selene (portrayed by Kate Beckinsale) for the deaths of Viktor and Marcus and the Lycans, wanting Selene in order to find her daughter Eve (who has the blood of vampire-werewolf) and want to create an army of vampire-werewolf hybrids.

Because of the threat of either side looking for Eve, Selene’s daughter was taken away from her to an undisclosed location in order to protect Eve.  That even Selene has no idea of her daughter’s whereabouts.

Semira (portrayed by Lara Pulver), a council member of the Eastern Coven wants Selene to be granted clemency, so she can train the Eastern Coven’s neophyte Death Dealers.

And as Selene arrives to the Eastern Coven with her protege, David (portrayed by Theo James), while training the Death Dealers, Semira’s lover Varga (portrayed by Bradley James) betrays Selene and kills all the Death Dealers as planned by Semira.

Semira drains Selene’s blood and will drink it in order to gain her power, but when vampire elder Thomas (portrayed by Charles Dance) and David arrive, a battle begins with Semira and Varga.

And in order to save their lives and buy time for David to rescue Selene, he sacrifices his life in battle.

As David and Selene head to the Nordic Coven, pursuing them are Marius (portrayed by Tobias Menzies) and the Lycans who are intent in finding out where Eve is located.  But also pursuing Selene is Alexia (portrayed by Daisy Head), a death dealer from the Eastern Coven and the lover of Marius, the Lycan leader.


VIDEO:

“Underworld: Blood Wars” is presented in 2160p High Definition (2:40:1). The film is presented in 4K Ultra HD and Blu-ray.

Picture quality is fantastic as closeups show amazing detail and the film maintains its cool, dark look with blues, gays and blacks.  Black levels are nice and deep and for the most part, the film looks great 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 + a high-speed HDMI 2.0A Cable.

AUDIO & SUBTITLES:

“Underworld: Blood Wars” is presented in English Dolby Atmos (Dolby TrueHD 5.1), French 5.1 DTS-HD MA, English-Audio Desription Track 5.1 Dolby Digital.

I was so pleased with this soundtrack and just hearing constant immersive audio coming from front channels and also the surround channels for the many action scenes throughout the film.  The music soundtrack also is utilized for the surround channels as well.  Also, great use of LFE.

Subtitles are in English, English SDH and French.

SPECIAL FEATURES:

“Underworld: Blood Wars” comes with the following special features on the second Blu-ray disc:

  • The Evolution of Selene – (8:09) A featurette about the main protagonist, Selene and interviews with Kate Beckinsale and producers of the film.
  • Old & New Blood – (6:15) Cast and producers discuss the Nordic Coven featured in the film.
  • The Evil Evolved – (6:07) A featurette about the Eastern Coven and the Lycans.
  • Building a Blood War – (12:01) Director Anna Foerster and producers discussing of bringing back the look of the original but creating something fresh and new.
  • Underworld: Blood Wars – The Official Movie Graphic Novel – Darkstorm Comics graphic novel.  Using your remote, you can cycle through each page of the comic book.

EXTRAS:

“Underworld: Blood Wars” comes with a slipcover, both the 4K Ultra HD and Blu-ray discs and an UltraViolet Digital HD code.


With the original “Underworld” trilogy, there was a good focus on the storyline between the vampires (Death Dealers) and the Lycans (werewolves) and balancing it out with the action.

While I have always looked at the “Underworld” films as your vampire vs. werewolf popcorn action film series.  With “Underworld: Awakening”, the writers were moving away from the “Twilight” mushy romance (or Romeo & Juliet romance, as I called the first two films).

With “Underworld: Awakening”, the film became more action-heavy and as far as the storyline was concerned, the romantic element was eliminated and became more of a focus on Selene’s daughter having vampire/Lycan blood, making her a target for both sides.

Selene had become the hunted, as both sides want to know where Eve is located and that storyline continues with “Underworld: Blood Wars”.  And once again, you get a popcorn action film with actress Kate Beckinsale once again donning her tight black leather uniform that fans have come to love about the “Underworld” films.

But I’ve felt the film has taken a step into the direction of popcorn action with a forgetful storyline that seems like it would be appropriate more for a video game than a film. But giving the film the benefit of a doubt that writer Cory Goodman is trying to setup a connection for the next film, I can’t help but feel bad for director Anna Foerster.

Having loved what she has done with the “Outlander” series which feature episodes that are character and story-driven, Foerster is left with trying to create a film that revolves around chaotic action.

But despite the forgetful storyline, I did enjoy the film for its connection to the series as I enjoy the “Underworld” storyline.  I just wish there was more of it to enjoy because the characters are important and while it’s new to take adventures to a different coven and focus on the war with the Lycans nearly wiping out the vampires, you just feel that there should be more.  Considering the original trilogy was story-driven, you just want to see a good story go along with that chaotic action and not have the action dominate so much of the film.

So, considering how I enjoyed the original trilogy and knew that the fourth film “Underworld: Awakening” was heading to a different direction than the previous films, “Underworld: Blood Wars” remains consistent with the last film with no engrossing story, just a film with plenty of action and visual effects.  But yet, the final minute gives us a tease of something for fans of the film to look forward to when the sixth film is released in the future.

As for the 4K Ultra HD release, picture quality is magnificent and the darkness of the film with the use of blues, grays and blacks are still continued with this latest film.  Close-ups show great detail and Lycan transformations look great.  And similar to the last film, the lossless soundtrack is magnificent and immersive.  And considering the amount of action in this film, audiophiles should be quite thrilled to see how immersive the action sequences are and the use of the surround channels and LFE.

And as far as special features go, you are given a good number of special features including the official movie graphic novel and a few featurettes on a second Blu-ray disc.

Overall, while “Underworld: Blood Wars” is not a film that focuses on a deep storyline and fans of the previous film can expect to see a lot of fighting, a lot of deaths, non-stop action and Kate Beckinsale continuing to look awesome and also kicking a lot of arse!

A worthy continuation of the “Underworld” film series that leans very heavy on the action, if you are looking for an all-out action film with vampires vs. werewolves, “Underworld: Blood Wars” will definitely appeal to you!

Guilt: Season One (a J!-ENT DVD Review)

October 10, 2016 by · Leave a Comment 

“Guilt” is a series that had potential to be an entertaining and captivating mystery drama series, but by trying to incorporate too much, the series ends up being too farfetched for its own good. “Guilt: Season One” is entertaining but a series with lost potential.

Images courtesy of © 2016 Lions Gate Entertainment, Inc. All Rights Reserved.


DVD TITLE: Guilt: Season One

YEAR OF FILM: 2016

DURATION: 10 Episodes (420 Minutes)

DVD INFORMATION: 1:78:1 Widescreen Presentation, English 5.1 Dolby Digital Audio, Subtitles: English, English SDH, French

COMPANY: Lions Gate

RATED: Not Rated

AVAILABLE ON: October 18, 2016


Created by Nichole Millard, Kathryn Price

Directed by Larry Shaw, Mairzee Almas, Gary Fleder, Elizabeth Allen Rosenblaum

Written by Nichole Millard, Kathryn Price, Tegan Shohet, Todd Slavkin, Darren Swimmer, Shaina Fewell, Fredrick,Kotto, Bryan Q Miller, Nelson Soler, Elle Triedman

Produced by Suzanne Reid, Gideo Amir

Co-Producer: Shaina Fewell, Kari Hobson, Gerry Gavigan

Executive Produced by Stephen McPherson, Nichole Millard, Kathryn Price, Todd Slavkin, Darren Swimmer

Co-Executive Producer: Elle Triedman, Ildiko Kemeny, David Minkowski

Music by Daniel Licht

Cinematography by Theo van de Sande

Edited by Anthony Pinker, Kevin hale, Jason Hellmann

Production Design by Laszlo Rajk

Art Direction by Monika Esztan

Set Decoration by Rebecca Gillies

Costume Design by Sam Perry, Peggy Stamper


Starring:

Daisy Head as Grace Atwood

Emily Tremaine as Natalie Atwood

Cristian Solimeno as Detective Sergeant Alex Bruno

Naomi Ryan as Gwendolyn Hall

Simona Brown as Roz Walters

Zachary Fall as Luc Pascal

Kevin Ryan as Patrick Ryan

Sam Cassidy as Prince Theo

Billy Zane as Stan Gutterie

Robbie Gee as DCI Pike

Amber Jean Rowan as Kaley


When a young woman is brutally murdered in her London flat, the search for her killer leads to scandal and intrigue stretching all the way from underground sex clubs to the highest levels of the Royal family.


In June 2016, the first season of “Guilt”, a British/American mystery drama aired on Freeform.

Created by Kathryn Price (“The Game Plan”, “The Mole”, “Fallen”) and Nichole Millard (“The Game Plan”, “Fallen”), the series stars Daisy Head (“The Last Seven”, “Underworld: Blood Wars”, “When Calls the Heart”), Emily Tremaine (“Vinyl”, “The Blacklist”, “The Wolf of Wall Street”), Cristian Solimeno (“Rush”, “Mother of Tears”, “Highlander: The Source”), Naomi Ryan (“Guardians of the Galaxy”, “Honeytrap”, “Mile High”), Simona Brown (“Man Up”, “Murdered by My Boyfriend”, “The Night Manager”), Zachary Fall (“Allies”, “Margo Learns French”), Kevin Ryan (“Copper”, “Laredo”, “Paddy’s in the Boot”), Sam Cassidy (“Yeti”, “Stella”) and Billy Zane (“Titanic”, “Back to the Future” films, “The Phantom”).

And now “Guilt: Season One” will be available on DVD courtesy of Lions Gate.

The series begins with Grace Atwood (portrayed by Daisy Head), an American student in London and her roommate Molly Ryan (portrayed by Rebekah Wainwright) having a party at their flat.

While Grace is with her boyfriend Luc Pascal (portrayed by Zachary Fall), Molly is drunk and enters her room and is murdered.

The following day, Grace, Luc and her other roommate Roz Walters (portrayed by Simona Brown) discover the body of Molly. Immediately, Grace and Luc become the prime suspects.

We are then introduced to Boston-based Assistant Direct Attorney Natalie Atwood (portrayed by Emily Tremaine) who is brilliant at her job.  She receives a call about her sister and leaves to London immediately.

Pursuing the case is D.S. Alex Bruno (portrayed by Cristian Solimeno) who is the lead investigator, along with crown prosecutor Gwendolyn Hall (portrayed by Naomi Ryan) who are trying to find out if Grace and Luc killed Molly.

When Natalie arrives in London, she knows that Grace can’t possibly murder anyone.  But when media and lawyers unearth video footage of Grace’s past, her affair and her argument/fight with Molly, Natalie tries to keep the faith that Grace didn’t, but Grace’s actions make her seem guilty.

Meanwhile, Grace and Natalie’s father James (portrayed by Anthony Head) has hired notorious lawyer Stan Gutterie (portrayed by Billy Zane) to represent Grace.

Also, Molly’s older brother Patrick Ryan (portrayed by Kevin Ryan) wants retribution for Molly’s death and Prince Theo, a member of the British Royal Family may have a connection with Molly.

As the media start to point the finger at Grace, can Natalie and investigators find a way to prove that Molly is innocent.

Who really murdered Molly?


VIDEO & AUDIO:

“Guilt: Season One” is presented in 1:78:1 widescreen presentation and in English 5.1 Dolby Digital.  Picture quality and audio quality is as good as it can get on DVD.  The series features crystal clear dialogue and music and surround channels are primarily for ambiance.

Subtitles are in English SDH..

SPECIAL FEATURES:

“Guilt: Season One” comes the following special features:

  • “Guilt”: Sex, Sin & Scandal – (8:13) The themes for “Guilt”, featuring interviews with cast and crew.
  • Deleted Scenes – (7:48) featuring deleted scenes from the series.

EXTRAS:

“Guilt: Season One” comes an UltraViolet digital code.


Upon watching the first episode of “Guilt”, one may find themselves thinking of the Amanda Knox case and the death of Meredith Kercher.

But as the show progresses, “Guilt” becomes a series that involves conspiracies, royalty, family out for revenge, a media circus, crooked lawyers, bad parenting, and a convoluted story of too much deviations from the original plot, many characters while trying to remain hip and cool for the audience.

While the series takes a long time to answer the question of “Who is responsible for a major murder?”.

As the series starts off with pointing the finger on Grace Atwood, the problem is that the story gets away from that plot and tries to introduce others that may be involved and one of the primary characters, Boston-based assistant D.A., Natalie sees her role minimized unfortunately due to writers wanting to incorporate other key players.

Also, another problem is that the character Grace is hardheaded and does so many ridiculous things that writers tried to incorporate characters that have their own problematic issues that the storyline strays away too much for its own good.

I lost faith in Grace’s character (and other characters) by the end of the series, so much that I didn’t care if she was guilty or not.  And focusing on characters Natalie Atwood (portrayed by Emily Tremaine), detective sergeant Alex Bruno (portrayed by Cristian Solimeno) or even Stan Gutterie (portrayed Billy Zane) would have made a more interesting storyline, but then it would be a bit banal and too similar to American mystery drama series.

Overall, “Guilt” is a series that had potential to be an entertaining and captivating mystery drama series, but by trying to incorporate too much, the series ends up being too farfetched for its own good.

“Guilt: Season One” is entertaining but a series with lost potential.


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