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Title: Underworld

Movie: :4stars:
Video: :4stars:
Audio: :4.5stars:
Extras: :3stars:

HTS Overall Score:82

I still have ridiculously fond memories of 2003’s “Underworld”. It was a first date movie for my wife and I, so there is a bit of nostalgic memories as well as the excitement of watching it in a classic drive in theater. That and It was back during a time when these type of “video game like” movies (I know “Underworld” isn’t a video game flick, but it feels kind of like the early 2000 “Resident Evil” flicks) where really popular and I was having a blast eating them up. Not to mention the fact that I was just coming out of college where the Goth phenomenon was making a comeback, so I was curious to see if I ended up liking it as much as I did back then. Kind of like “The Matrix”, I had watched the DVDs into the ground and even the extended cut Blu-ray 7 years ago, so I had not bothered revisiting the film in at LEAST 6 or 7 years and my memory was a bit fuzzy. I must admit that the film has aged a little bit, and feels a bit creaky and dated to that 2000-2005 turn of the century feel that certain films have, but overall the vampire/werewolf hybrid film still has a lot to offer the action genre.

One of the easiest ways to make sure that a special edition or differing version of a film is released happens to be on the coat tails of a sequel or spinoff coming out theatrically. And that, of course, is exactly what is at play here. With “Underworld: Blood Wars” coming out in a few weeks in theaters (the 5th film in the gothic franchise) it was a sure fire bet that “Underworld” had to be trotted out once again to remind viewers to watch it. This time the film gets a 4K UltraHD release that gives us more of the same, but also adds some fun little twists to the packaging. The initial Sony Blu-ray releases of “Underworld” gave us ONLY the extended cut and left out the theatrical (something which wasn’t a big deal, as the theatrical is SLIGHTLY inferior in my opinion), but the 4K release remedies that situation, partially. The 4K UltraHD disc in the combo pack is given the full upgrade with Dolby Atmos audio and new video with the theatrical 121 minute edition, while the 2nd disc is the same Sony extended cut (complete with the ancient 5.1 LPCM audio track and SD extras) that we’ve enjoyed for the better part of the last decade. So that means while we DO get the theatrical cut finally, it’s the only version with the upgraded audio and video.

“Underworld” is kind of a gothic tale of romance and violence, with elements of “Romeo and Juliet” as well as modern action sensibilities to create a wildly entertaining (if not downright ridiculous) mismatch of genres and pulsating metal music. Selene (Kate Beckinsale in a skin tight pleather outfight that makes every red blooded male a bit faint) is a vampire “death dealer”. An assassin of the vampire race used to protect the clans and eliminate the monstrous werewolf forces led by the vicious Lucien (award winner Michael Sheen). After foiling the kidnapping of a plain ordinary human named Michael (Scott Speedman) by the werewolves, Selene is a bit curious on WHY this human is of such great importance to be kidnapped and not just killed. As she delves and deeper and deeper in Michael’s past it seems that this human holds the key to the future of BOTH species and is not only a great boon, but also a threat to the two warring supernatural beings.

HOWEVER, instead of killing him, Selene ends up falling in love with the human, even though he’s been bitten by Lucien and going to turn on the next full moon into her most bitter enemy. Desperate to figure out just what is going on and hopefully finding a way to save her new love, Selene and Michaels embark on a blood thirsty quest that will pit her not only against the werewolves, but her own kind as well. Including her mentor and lord, Viktor (Bill Nighy).

“Underworld” is a decidedly silly film, filled with over dramatic acting and stupid setting of the story. The whole Vampire/Werewolf hybrid storyline was AWESOME as a 21 year old male coming out of college, but it has waned and aged just a bit 13 years later. Don’t get me wrong, the film still delivers on the action and stylistic use of gunplay and hand to hand combat, it’s just that there’s an element of cheese that seems to not have aged as well as other films have. Still, I had a complete blast rewatching and have to agree that this type of film begs that one leave their brain at the door and just have FUN (kind of like the “Matrix” movies that I watched and rewatched to death in the same time frame). There’s guns, knives, silver bullets, .50 caliber Desert Eagle hand cannons being wielded in one hand, and plenty of angst and over dramatic exposition.


Rated R for strong violence/gore and some language

Video :4stars:

“Underworld” was originally shot on film and is now taken from a 2K DI (at least from what I can tell, as I have no knowledge of a 4K remastering of the film) for the inevitable 4K release, and as with many 2K sources I was a bit nervous about the results. Thankfully the 4K rendition is a nice upgrade over the 2007 Blu-ray and is one of the better catalog titles that I’ve seen recently. The film employs a monochromatic blue and grey overlay that gives it that “gothic” flair and is just bathed in angst and shadows. Fine detail actually looks really nice as leather outfits show more detailing and the softness associated with facial features is less prominent this go around. Selene’s hairs are now vivid and individually noticeable on her sweat stained face and the constrained color gamut allows for deep dark shadows with little to no crush, and contrast levels that are maintained with excellent results.

Audio :4.5stars:

The old 2007 Blu-ray was one of the initial batches of Sony discs back in the early days of the format and happens to employ an uncompressed 5.1 LPCM track instead of the more commonly used DTS-HD MA or Dolby TrueHD compression formulas. Either way, the 5.1 mix was INCREDIBLY hot and one of the more active tracks of the day. It still holds up surprisingly well, despite the use of overcooked bass and the grungy/metal score by Paul Haslinger (which is slightly dated). The upgrade to Dolby Atmos is an impressive upgrade and makes the film just that much more immersive. The mix makes good use of the overheads and the surrounds, placing auditory queues and action sequences firmly in different locations. Especially with gunfire blasting all around and the slow motion jump that Selene does over the heads of the viewers in the finale. LFE is still brutally punishing and cooked just as hot as I remembered the Blu-ray being. Something which makes the bass head in me more than a bit giggly. Dialog is firmly centered in the front of the room and the constant sense of immersion makes this an awesome home theater demo disc to this day.

Extras: :3stars:

• Audio commentary with director Len Wiseman, Kate Beckinsale, and Scott Speedman
• Outtakes
• Fang vs. Fiction
• Storyboard Comparison
• Music video: Finch: "Worms of the Earth"
• Featurettes
- Making of Underworld
- Visual Effects of Underworld
- Creature Effects
- Stunts
- Designing Underworld
- The Look of Underworld
- Sights & Sounds

Overall: :4stars:

Cheesy, silly, ridiculously stylish, and a blast to watch, “Underworld” finally gets one more release before the newest film in the franchise rolls into theaters in less than two weeks. I would have personally liked to have seen a set with BOTH the theatrical and extended unrated cuts in 4K, but having the theatrical cut out in Hi-Def is a close second, and at least we still have the perfectly serviceable theatrical cut on the included Blu-ray. Audio and video are both healthy upgrades from their 1080p counterparts, which is more than worth the price of admission. Sadly the extras are just the ones that were included on the extended cut Blu-ray from years back (and still in SD, *grumble, whine moan), but for those looking for the best picture and sound quality, this edition definitely delivers. Recommended for a fun watch.

Additional Information:

Starring: Scott Speedman, Kate Beckinsale, Michael Sheen
Directed by: Len Wiseman
Written by: Danny McBride, Kevin Grevioux, Len Wiseman
Aspect Ratio: 2.35:1 HEVC
Audio: English: Dolby Atmos (Dolby TrueHD 7.1), Italian, French DD 5.1
Studio: Sony
Rated: R
Runtime: 121 minutes (133 minutes for Extended Cut Blu-ray)
Blu-Ray Release Date: December 27th, 2016

Buy Underworld on 4K Blu-ray at Amazon

Recommendation: Fun Watch

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