Underworld Trilogy (2003)

Genre(s): Action / Horror / Romance
Screen Gems || NR - 331 minutes - $47.95 || May 12, 2009
Reviewer: Tyler Thomas || Posted On: 2009-05-03


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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

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


.::DVD INFORMATION::.
Supplemental Material:
  • 3 Feature Commentaries
  • 10 Featurettes
  • Outtakes
  • TV Spots
  • Music Videos


Technical Information:
  • Number of Discs: 3
  • Widescreen
  • English (Dolby Digital 5.1), French (Dolby Digital 5.1), Spanish (Dolby Digital 5.1), Thai (Dolby Digital 5.1)
  • Subtitles: English, French, Spanish, Chinese, Korean, Thai

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.::THE FILM::.

Before I begin, let me get this right out in the open. Some movies should have sequels, some should not. There are even movies that should have sequels but not sequels after the sequel. That made sense when I typed it out but after reading it, not so much. What I mean is that Underworld is an excellent film, the sequel Underworld: Evolution is as well, but Underworld: Rise of the Lycans is a dreadful movie that shouldnít have been made. Now, without further a due...

Underworld ****Ĺ / *****

Selene (Kate Beckinsale) is a vampire who is caught in the middle of the war that involves her race and another, known as the Lycan, who can morph into were-wolf creatures that are deadly and fierce. For those who donít know, vampires are creatures of the night that feed on the blood of other humans to stay alive (thatís the shorthand version, sorry, the long version is more complex). Selene is tracking a huge group of Lycan and reports to the master of the vampires, Kraven (Shane Brolly) that she thinks the group is getting bigger and trouble may be brewing. Viktor shrugs off the idean, even after she shows him the gun that she found at the last scene of her battle that had bullets which can kill vampires instantly. They are specially made to pierce the vampire skin and literally melt them in a momentís notice.

The Lycan are trying to hunt down a specific bloodline known as the Colvin, and have found one of the ancestors, Michael (Scott Speedman), who they were trying to capture at the start of the movie in the battle Selene was involved with. The group tries yet again to capture him, and Selene is forced to intervene again and save Michael, but he is bitten by the Lycan and soon falls ill to their case. Selene is also injured in the fight by the were-wolf leader, Lucian (Michael Sheen), who is impervious to the bullets she uses and he manages to rip them out of his skin when she pumps him full of ammo. In a fantastic car chase scene, the head Lycan kicks the crap out of Selene and she passes out from the blood loss from the wound she suffers. Michael, being a doctor, takes her to his house but shortly passes out as well. Selene wakes up and takes him to the vampire manor, which ticks off Kraven since not only has she alerted the Lycan of where Michael could be, but also that she revealed the location of the manor to a human who is infected.

Selene has her sights set on figuring out this mess that is brewing inside the vampire manor: why do the Lycans want Michael so bad that they are willing to hunt him down, and can she save him from turning into a Lycan himself? Or will he fall victim to the were-wolves and she will be forced to kill him being that is her job?

This was my favorite out of the series, as it had action, a great story, and a phenomenal cast in it. Beckinsale is not only gorgeous and an excellent actress as well. The action scenes were long and engaging enough to peek my interest, and the storyline kept me guessing until the end.

Itís odd to note that the first one in the series is the only one of the three to come in an unrated format, the rest are rated R. Itís also worth noting that this one is also roughly half an hour longer than the other two. I have no idea why this was the only one to come out in an unrated format or why it was so long, but Iím not complaining as though I thoroughly enjoined the movie and found it to be the strongest in the series.

Underworld: Evolution **** / *****

The second film starts off with a Lycan, William (Brian Steele), being captured by Viktor (Bill Nighy). Marcus (Tony Curran), another Lycan hunter, tries to get Viktor to release him and stop hurting the poor were-wolf, but itís of no avail and Viktor doesnít really care. We are then shown bits and pieces of whatís happened to Selene and Michael since the first film. Note, spoilers follow, so if you havenít seen the first one I suggest you stop reading.

Since she had to bite Michael (Scott Speedman) to save him at the end of the first one, he has become a bit of a hybrid. Selene (Kate Beckinsale) had to put both of them into hiding, or else they would be hunted down and killed by the vampires as well as the Lycans, since being a hybrid is a horrible thing. Itís up to Selene to awaken the remaining Elder vampire, Marcus, to let him know the truth about the vampires and how the hybrid came to be. But bad news for her, as Kraven (Shane Brolly) has already attempted to do so. I say attempted as Marcus awakes and kills him along with every other vampire in the area and drinks their blood. By doing so, he gains the knowledge of Marcus and knows that a hybrid is indeed in the area, and flies off to find Michael and kill him.

Michael is out and about in town trying to eat, but since he needs blood, he canít keep his food down. He is noticed by a few townspeople and is shot at, but Selene manages to come in and save him. That is, until Marcus appears and tries to bite Selene to get her memories from the past to find out more about Michael and how he came to be. Lucky for them, the sun starts to rise and Marucs has to hide. The two head off to find the historian Tannis (Steven Mackintosh) who lets them know more about the pendant that Selene was given at birth, and also how to find the were-wolf from the start of the movie. It turns out the pendant has some important information, and thatís one of the reasons that Marcus is attempting to drink her blood. Itís now up to Selene and the hybrid Michael to put an end to the life of the vampire Marcus, and also how the couple can deal with the needs that both have in their lives now.

While Iím giving this one a lower rating than the first one, I still enjoyed it almost as much. I just think that this one could have been a bit longer, since it takes a while to really get into the action and then it abruptly gets cut off. The ending is also ďblahĒ compared to the first one, which I knocked it down a bit for. Otherwise, this is one of the best sequels for a movie ever, which surprised me honestly.

Underworld: Rise of the Lycans * / *****

Rise of the Lycans deals with the back history of why Lucian (Michael Sheen), king of the Lycans, has so much hatred for Viktor (Bill Nighy), king of the Vampires. These events happen prior to the first two films in the Underworld series, a fact which I didnít figure out until the movie ended.

Viktor is in charge of getting rid of the were-wolf creatures of the world, called Lycan, but one day he sees a child near the prison cells where they are caged. He takes the child, and rather than killing it, he chooses to raise it as his own and names it Lucian. Lucian serves under Viktor as payment for saving his life, and is quickly seen as his favorite which is frowned upon by the other vampires and the elders for having a Lycan in such close range. However all Lycans, regardless if they are servants or prisoners, must wear a collar that prevents them from going into were-wolf mode. Lucian is a devoted servant to Viktor, and saves the lives of a carriage under attack once he grows up. Another hunter comes in by the name of Sonja (Rhona Mitra), who is Viktorís daughter, and scolds Lucian for saving her life.

Back at the castle Lucian intervenes to sort of save the life of a Lycan being beaten to death by a vampire, and gains the respect of the other Lycan for doing so. The council has a meeting and decides that Lucian should become head of the Lycan army, and control them to make them do what the council ultimately wants. Since he already has trust among them, it shouldnít be too hard to manipulate them to do their bidding. Viktor doesnít want to do so, for fear of Lucian coming into harmís way, but reluctantly agrees to do so.

I hated this movie. The series is supposed to be about action and fighting, but this one takes it to a stupid level that boggled my mind. The action sequences are needlessly violent and bloody, and donít really add anything to the movie. The characters are also poorly developed, as Lucian is such a wuss in the movie and Sonja is too. The final battle between Lucian and Viktor is also heavily disappointing and lasts thirty seconds before an abrupt ending that doesnít make sense. This is a horrible addition to the trilogy, and hopefully ends the saga that was great but doesnít need to go on.



.::SPECIAL FEATURES::.

Underworld **Ĺ /*****

Commentary with Len Wiseman, Kate Beckinsale, and Scott Speedman: Probably one of the best commentaries Iíve heard in quite some time, Wiseman is informational and witty, while the two cast mates jokes around as well. This is a great commentary that I strongly recommend listening to if you liked the film like I did, as it also points out some of the differences between the two versions of the movie.

Outtakes (4 minutes): The cast flubs lines, and for a film that isnít a comedy, these are entertaining. Be sure to watch them as itís short and brief.

Fang vs. Fiction (47 minutes): An incredibly lengthy documentary that deals with the history of werewolves and vampires, similar to the ones in the film. Itís long, but it is informative and worth a viewing if you have some time to watch it all the way through.

Finally, there are two TV Spots available.

Underworld: Evolution **Ĺ / *****

Filmmakersí Commentary: Wiseman, Tatopoulos, Martin, and De Toth do the commentary this time around a bit different, as they talk more about the background and other things rather than the movie itself. They point out a bunch of things that were dang cool to listen to, so I strongly suggest you listening to it if you enjoyed the movie, which you should have. This is arguably the best of the three commentaries offered on each of the discs.

Featurettes (73 minutes): Six different featurettes are available to watch, although two of them run a bit shorter than the rest. They tackle various things such as how the movie came to be, interviews with the cast and crew about the movie, and finally a great documentary about the music of the movie. I recommend watching all of them at some point, just divvy up your time accordingly, as this is pretty long but also interesting enough to keep you entertained throughout.

Music Video ďHer Portrait in BlackĒ by Atreyu (4 minutes): Iíve always thought that Atreyu was a band that never really broke out into the mainstream crap that is radio, but Iím sort of glad because if they did theyíd probably turn poppy. This is a great song and a dang cool video, although you may not be able to understand what the band is saying. Definitely watch it just for the special effects scenes.

Underworld: Rise of the Lycans ** / *****

Filmmakersí Commentary: Tatopoulos, and the producers of the film join together for the movieís lone commentary. I couldnít really understand one of the commentators, and he talked often, so that probably didnít help much. The rest of the crew discuss about some of the scenes in detail as well as the actors. Itís decent, but not something Iíd ever listen to again.

From Script to Screen (9 minutes): The crew talk about rushing production of the film due to the actorís time frame among other problems. This film was rushed?

Origin of the Feud (20 minutes): This dives deeper into the history of Lucian and Sonja, as well as history of the film overall. Since I didnít enjoy the movie at all I found it to be trivial and not that entertaining. If you were a fan of it, then be sure to watch this.

Re-Creating the Dark Ages (13 minutes): The director and other crewmates talk about creating some of the scenery as well as the costumes that the cast wore during the movie. Iím a fan of the medieval times era, so this was interesting to me.

Music Video: ďDeathclubĒ (4 minutes): Itís sad when the best special feature lies within the music video for the film. This is a great tune that caused me to go out and buy the soundtrack to the movie, which sounds awesome. One thing that the Underworld movies have never lacked is an excellent soundtrack. Needless to say, the tune is addicting and the video is cool.



.::AUDIO & VIDEO::.

Underworld

The color palette on this one looked gorgeous to say the least. Colors are bright and vibrant when they should be, and dark and dreary to represent the mood of the movie also when they need to be. Contrast is also perfect for the duration of the movie, as I didnít notice any issues with the black levels or dealing with too much grain either. Flesh tones also appear excellent. The only issue lies at a few points where there was a smidge of noise, but other than the few instances that it happened this is a near-perfect transfer. Make no mistake about it, the first in the series is one of the best looking movies on DVD today, and it pales in comparison to the sequel... ****Ĺ / *****

The Dolby Digital 5.1 track that comes with the film sounds superb. The surrounds are used extensively throughout the movie in great manners, and there were a few instances where I had to turn down my speakers due to the sheer amount of noise coming from them. This is an action movie, and the track represents it to the fullest. I didnít have any issues with the noise overpowering the characters, but I did have a small issue with the dialogue not being as crisp as the second in the series. Otherwise, this is a great start to the trilogy in terms of audio quality. ****Ĺ / *****

Underworld: Evolution

Picture-freaking-perfect is the only way to describe the sequel. Colors are beyond great, as each character is detailed wonderfully. The color palette also looks phenomenal, as there were no issues with characters not looking how they should. Flesh tones were also perfect, as like some films these days, there werenít any problems with some characters appearing different colors in multiple scenes. Depth was also (imagine that) perfect. Thereís nothing wrong with this transfer, itís gorgeous, excellent, and any other word to describe it being reference-material. ***** / *****

The Dolby Digital 5.1 track is identical to the one used in the previous film, as it uses the surrounds actively and also has great dialogue. There werenít any problems with the surround noise overpowering the dialogue in anyway, but this track also had the same issue with the dialogue not being as crisp and clear as it could have been. But it still is near reference-material, as itís loud, booming, and all-around excellent sounding. This movie has a bit more action in it, and thus, gets a higher rating for using the rears more than its predecessor. ****ĺ / *****

Underworld: Rise of the Lycans

The film is dark in nature, and rarely were there times when I could accurately see the characters without them being overshadowed. Itís presented in mainly black and blue colors, for whatever reason, and while itís meant to be like that I didnít think it looked as good as the previous films in the trilogy. Flesh tones when they are visible on the screen look a bit bleak and outdated, which sounds odd since thatís maybe how theyíre supposed to look. But regardless I just didnít think this video is top-notch like the rest of the trilogy. **** / *****

The Dolby Digital 5.1 track accompanying the movie is dull and flat. I was heavily disappointed with it, as the action scenes of which there are many sound absolutely horrible. There was rarely an instance were surround use was proper, as some of the dialogue scenes sounded better than the fight sequences. Levels were clear but a bit low in volume, and the fighting scenes once again sounded flat. As if it wasnít obvious enough, this just wasnít up to par with the past releases. ***Ĺ / *****



.::OVERALL::.

Underworld is a great series, but by series I mean the first two flicks. The third one can be cast aside if you choose to buy the set. I recommend a purchase if you enjoyed the first two and have yet to own them on DVD, as they are excellent movies in their own right. The special features are somewhat lacking, but they all present great audio and video qualities. Just trust me when I say this: buy the trilogy but donít bother with the third one. Vampires and Lycans have never been more fun to watch battle.