Underworld (2003) - Unrated [Blu-ray]

Genre(s): Action / Horror
Sony || Unrated - 134 minutes - $28.95 || September 25, 2007
Reviewer: Brian Oliver || Posted On: 2009-05-09


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.:: F I L M ::.
The Film

S P E C I A L
.: F E A T U R E S :.

Special Features

.:: V I D E O ::.
Video

.:: A U D I O ::.
Audio

B L U - R A Y
.:: EXCLUSIVES ::.

Blu-ray Exclusives

.:: O V E R A L L ::.
Overall
.::MOVIE INFORMATION::.
Director: Len Wiseman
Writer(s): Kevin Grevioux and Len Wiseman & Danny McBride (story), Danny McBride (screenplay)
Cast: Kate Beckinsale, Scott Speedman, Michael Sheen, Shane Brolly, Erwin Leder, Bill Nighy


Theatrical Release Date: September 19, 2003


.::DVD INFORMATION::.
Supplemental Material:
  • Audio Commentary
  • Documentary
  • 7 Featurettes
  • Outtakes
  • Storyboard Comparison


Technical Information:
  • Number of Discs: 1
  • Widescreen (2.35)
  • English (PCM 5.1), English (Dolby Digital 5.1), Italian (PCM 5.1), French (Dolby Digital 5.1)
  • Subtitles: English, English SDH, French, Italian

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.::THE FILM::.

Plot Synopsis: 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 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.

The action packed werewolves vs. vampires’ saga, Underworld, never really appealed to me even dating back to its theatrical release in 2003. I thought the then relatively unknown Kate Beckinsale looked absolutely fetching in the skin-tight Matrix-line of clothing, and for her part, Beckinsale didn’t do too bad of a job but the story was stretched a tad thin. However, I should give the screenplay/story – by actor/writer Kevin Grevioux (played Raze), director Len Wiseman and writer Danny McBride – is more involved than I had expected, so at the very least the writers’ didn’t just slouch and rely on vampire movies of the past.

As I said before about Beckinsale, she fills the main role of Selene quite well with a certain strength and vulnerability while her love interest/co-star Scott Speedman was acceptable as the man caught in the middle of the Underworld war. Personally, I’ve never though much of Speedman as an actor, given his brilliant turn as a government agent in the classic action flick, xXx: State of the Union (although one could argue he gave the better performance of that entire cast).

And I couldn't go on without mentioning Michael Sheen who has risen as a fantastic historical actor playing Tony Blair in The Queen (plus a few other projects) and David Frost in Frost/Nixon (he is also slated to appear in the Twilight sequel). Although I would hardly call his performance here groundbreaking, it is a bright spot in this film).

Overall, Underworld is a mildly entertaining movie that does kind of meander through a story that probably could’ve been told better, but between Beckinsale’s hotness and a nice, though too short, appearance by Bill Nighy, the movie might be worthwhile for fans of these dark vampire stories (I still prefer “Buffy the Vampire Slayer” myself). However, this being now my third time seeing it (theaters, DVD and BD), I still couldn’t really get into it as much as I had liked. That said, I still can appreciate some of the visual flair and Matrix influences, so it’s not a complete loss.



.::SPECIAL FEATURES::.

All features from the “2-Disc Unrated Extended Cut” DVD are also available on this Blu-ray.

First up is a lively and informative feature commentary with director Len Wiseman and stars Kate Beckinsale and Scott Speedman (who leaves before the end). The track is actually not bad especially because Wiseman and Beckinsale are married and they delve a little into the personal relationship in regards to Beckinsale and ex-husband, Michael Sheen.

Fang vs. Fiction Documentary (47:18) – This is a look at the real life possibilities of werewolves (including interviews with those who purport to be real werewolves) and vampires and the historical look at their rivalry.

We have 7 average featurettes: Making of Underworld (13:02) is pretty good when they’re not showing long clips in between the cast and crew talking about the plot or their characters; Visual Effects of Underworld (9:56) tackles the effects used on the film; Creature Effects (12:29) on making the Lycan monster costumes and getting the movements just right; Stunts (11:42) covers, well, the stunt work done on the film; Designing Underworld (10:46) is about the movie’s production design; while The Look of Underworld (19:11) is about the visual gritty design/style of the movie; and finally Sights + Sounds of Underworld (9:07) is just some random camcorder video on and off the set.

The Blu-ray also includes some outtakes (3:43), storyboard comparisons (6:42) and a music video (2:45).



.::AUDIO & VIDEO::.

As you very well may know, Underworld is a dark movie and probably done on a relatively low budget ($22 million according to boxofficemojo.com), there’s quite a bit of noise during the dark scenes and I did tend to notice some bits of grain every once in a while. It’s not a bad picture with nice looking skin tones, decent colors and some nice detail on clothing and faces, but black levels were very inconsistent from one scene to another and still parts of the film looked too soft. I think if any film on Blu-ray needed a quick go-over (no DNR!), this would be one. But overall, the 1080p high-def transfer probably is better than the DVD.

On the other hand, the audio quality was, in short, amazing. The Uncompressed PCM 5.1 track sounds absolutely fantastic, between the clean dialogue from the center channel to Paul Haslinger’s underrated score cleanly coming out of the other channels. And remember, this is an action movie and the few sequences sound great giving off that theater experience I always want from home video viewing, but often rarely heard. Heck, even the Dolby Digital 5.1 track (which the disc defaults on) was quite aggressive, especially with my subwoofer.



.::OVERALL::.

My opinion of the movie aside, the picture quality and, especially, audio quality on the Underworld Blu-ray is excellent. The audio itself is probably on par with my experience with The Incredible Hulk and although the video has some imperfections and a bit of noise, it still doesn’t look too bad given the low budget and dark scenes. Although there are no exclusive features, if you already own the DVD, it is still well worth the cost of upgrading to high-def.