Underworld: Evolution (2006) [Blu-ray]
|Genre(s): Action / Fantasy / Horror / Thriller|
|Screen Gems || R - 106 minutes - $28.95 || June 20, 2006|
|Reviewer: Brian Oliver || Posted On: 2009-05-11|
Writer(s): Kevin Grevioux and Len Wiseman & Danny McBride (characters), Len Wiseman & Danny McBride (story), Danny McBride (screenplay)
Cast: Kate Beckinsale, Scott Speedman, Tony Curran, Shane Brolly, Steven MacKintosh, Derek Jacobi, Bill Nighy
Theatrical Release Date: January 20, 2006
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Plot Synopsis: The saga continues as the battle rages on between the aristocratic Death Dealers (vampires) and the barbaric Lycans (werewolves). The film traces the beginnings of the ancient feud between the two tribes as the beautiful vampire heroine Selene (Kate Beckinsale) discovers that she has been betrayed by her own kind and must seek revenge. The fast-paced, modern-day tale of deadly action, ruthless intrigue and forbidden love takes them into the battle to end all wars as the immortals must finally face their retribution.
Underworld: Evolution picks up where the first ended: Selene and Michael (Scott Speedman) have escaped death with the death of a vampire elder (Bill Nighy) and the conspiracy between the Death Dealers and Lycans broken open. Selene discovered that her family had been killed by a man she trusted and Michael becomes a hybrid, someone with potentially unlimited powers.
As far as sequels go, Underworld: Evolution isn’t too bad of a film, but it is basically a live-action video game with a hot hybrid-vampire sex scene thrown in for good measure (*note to self: doc one star for lack of nudity for Beckinsale). Basically it’s one ho-hum action sequence with a few minutes to allow the audience to get their breath back and then some more action that will numb the very core of your soul. Ok, not that bad and I’ll admit some of it was thrilling, just not enough for me to really enjoy the movie as a whole.
There’s not much of a plot either with the first movie introducing us to this alternate world while this one expands on it a little more with an added element of a Cain and Abel-esque storyline. You see, William (Brian Steele) is a powerful vampire while his brother is an out-of-control werewolf, the first of his kind and one that cannot take human form. Their father is the beginning of it all and a man conflicted with his sons’ behavior and the feud that had dragged on for centuries.
Underworld: Evolution isn’t a great movie but fans of the original will no doubt have a blast with the vampire/werewolf storyline and some decent special effects (though early on, it was definitely not pretty). The main reason I wanted to watch it was for the lovely Kate Beckinsale and she does not disappoint (she and her, um, tight outfit). My only hope is she and her hubby/Underworld director Len Wiseman come back for another, even I would be there opening weekend...
The movie features minor appearances by Bill Nighy (Viktor), Michael Sheen (Lucian) and Shane Brolly (Kraven) and also co-stars Tony Curran, an underutilized Derek Jacobi and Brian Steele.
All special features were carried over from the DVD release.
Audio Commentary features director Len Wiseman, production/creature designer Patrick Tatopoulos, editor Nicolas De Toth and second unit director Brad Martin.
The Blu-ray also has 6 featurettes (nearly 70-minutes worth), all of which cover the same sort of ground as the original Underworld, so I’ll just do a brief breakdown on each:
The Hybrid Theory (13:00) covers the visual effects on the film and how there were so much more than the original.
The War Rages On (9:54) is about the stunt work done with more sound bites from the cast and crew explaining the intricacies of some of the stunts as well as how the first movie prepared them better.
Bloodlines: From Script to Screen (13:26) is an all-encompassing featurettes on how the sequel came about as writer/director Len Wiseman had more story to tell that could not fit in one movie.
Making Monsters Roar (11:56) is the creatures featurette on designing the monsters this time around and trying to distinguish certain ones from the others.
Building a Saga (12:57) is about the production design and how the locations were far different from the original leaving behind the gothic city look with the dark countryside with creepy castles.
Lastly, Music and Mayhem goes over the score and sound effects on the film.
Also, the Blu-ray includes a music video (3:54).
.::AUDIO & VIDEO::.
Underworld: Evolution on Blu-ray looks excellent in 1080p high-def. Although I did notice the occasional artifacting during darker scenes but overall it’s still a nice looking video transfer with solid black levels and skin tones and other colors spot on. Obviously this is a dark film so I was impressed with it as you still get a good amount of detail in spite of how every scene is set during the night.
As with the audio experience on the original Underworld, the Uncompressed PCM 5.1 track is just as impressive, though I had to dock it slightly as there were a couple times the dialogue wasn’t up to par, but on the whole, this is one hell of an audio track that will have your theater room shaking between Marco Beltrami’s haunting, if not uneven, score and the many explosions or action sequences. Every channel will be used to its fullest extent so you are getting an immersive experience. English and French Dolby Digital 5.1 tracks are also available and make sure you switch to PCM as it defaults on DD5.1 (which isn’t a bad thing since that too is quite aggressive).
Although I personally wasn’t wild about Underworld: Evolution it certainly will be entertaining for fans of not only the franchise, but probably for those who like dark vampire mythologies. In regards to the Blu-ray, the video and audio are once again excellent and worth picking up if you haven’t already done so.