I had held back on watching this series mainly because at the time when they were available on DVD there was another vampire in the block, Blade. Naturally, in my awkward way of thinking, I would save my time and just pick one of the two and well my choice was the Blade trilogy. No way was I going to trade it for Underworld. It wasn’t a choice a contemplated at the time. Fast forward to 2011 and here I am watching the Underworld trilogy in glorious high definition. Was it worth the wait? Sure, there are some good things the Underworld trilogy has to offer.
Selene (Kate Beckinsale) is a Death Dealer for the vampire race. Her primary objective is to locate and eliminate remaining Lycans that have evolved and can now take on a more human form. This time around the Lycans are after a human named Michael (Scott Speedman) for unknown reasons, but as Selene digs deeper into the situation she will uncover a secret that implicates the current leader of the vampires, Kraven (Shane Brolly) and Lucian (Michael Sheen) leader of the Lycans. The Lycans are up to something and is up to Selene to stop their plans before it is too late.
I have to say Underworld was not bad at all. The first installment of the series is a good one even years after its original release. The film still brings the dark side of vampires that recent films have gotten rid of, in exchange for emotional kids with glitter covered faces, and show us exactly what made them popular. I enjoyed the obvious darkness of the story and its gothic centric theme that gives the characters a more intimidating feel. The addition of the werewolves is also another plus. Pitting badass vampires against badass werewolves is equals superb entertainment. I suppose the only real negative thing I can see with this first film is the fact that we start the story in “present” time and we often see the characters refer to an older time when the war started, but the tidbits of flashbacks and information about those times are minimal. However, the trilogy links together so we must now see the following films to catch the grander view of the story.
Directly following the events from the first film, Viktor (Bill Nighy) is dead, Marcus (Tony Curran) has been awaken, and Selene (Kate Beckinsale) and Michael (Scott Speedman) are on the run. Selene and Michael find themselves being pursued for trying to undo all the damage that Viktor’s lies and deceit have brought upon the vampires, but Marcus is now awaken by the blood of the Lycan that has transformed him into a hybrid. Seeing the world through the memories of the Lycan, Marcus is now on a hunt for Selene and on a quest to release his brother, the first werewolf William (Brian Steele). It’s up to Selene and Michael to stop Marcus from releasing William and unleashing a true nightmare on the world.
I am not sure what happened with this installment of the Underworld Trilogy. I was excited to continue watching more of Underworld, but with this sequel I am not sure what went wrong. I get that they are senseless action flicks meant to just serve you as good popcorn films, but this just felt off. The story is filled with inconsistencies that are hard to overlook. Even if just choose to ignore the problems; it’s hard not to notice. The film slowly went from good to bad without anything to really save it by the time it got the end. What I don’t understand is why create another hybrid, but yet leave him with the vampire weaknesses. Marcus seemed completely overpowering for no apparent reason other than he is a hybrid, but isn’t Michael a hybrid too? I sensed that perhaps writers tried doing something else with this hybrid idea and it just didn’t pan out like they thought it would, leaving us with something incomplete.
Don’t be fooled though, there are some positives that are worth to mention. The overall look and feel of the movie remained dark which is why is so appealing. There’s plenty of action which is always good. Kate Beckinsale is still kickass in her role. The mythos behind the films has been the most appealing thing in this set of films and it’s easy to see why there are many fans. However, this sequel is my least favorite of the three, I think there was an immediate need to create a sequel to ride on the success of the first, but it just didn’t measure up.
Underworld: Rise of the Lycans
It was often referred during the previous two installments and now we get the story that sets the road for the two. Lucian (Michael Sheen), a werewolf, was a human looking baby born taken from a werewolf. Trained along with Sonja (Rhona Mitra) from a very young age is now a slave serving as a bodyguard for the vampires. Lucian is forced to turn humans into Lycans to create a bigger workforce. Lucian is secretly planning an escape, but cannot leave without taking Sonja, who he has been secretly having a romantic relationship. But their romantic affair will have dire consequences if Viktor finds out.
Finally we get the story that has been referred to from the very first installment. Things now begin to actually make complete sense and this film explains a lot of what is only referred to in quick glimpses in the first two installments. There’s a good story behind this film, something that was clearly missing from Evolution. This time around Michael Sheen gets the lead role and he doesn’t disappoint, I generally think he is a good actor and he brings great things to the table. The story is much more engaging and interesting seeing as this is the way everything started. The story flows great and there’s more attachment to the characters than that offered in Evolution. With all being set, this installment is a great entry to the series, it is definitely more enjoyable than the sequel.
Underworld: Endless War
Part one of the three part animated short follow Selene, the Death Dealer, as she tries to locate three brothers who are Lycans and have blended with the humans in order to remain undetected. However, Selene has finally found them and manages to kill one of the brothers while the other two escape. This takes place before the events of the first Underworld film.
Part two follows Selene as she caught wind of the whereabouts of the two brothers. After an attack on the vampire home and unnecessary bloodshed during a ritual, Selene manages to kill another brother and severely injuring the last remaining brother. These events are in “present time” right before the events of the first Underworld.
Part three sees the Vampires and Lycans being hunted down by the humans. Selene and Michael are working together to find and deal with the last remaining brother, but he is also being tracked by humans making Selene and Michael’s disposal of the Lycan a lot more difficult. This takes place following the events of Underworld: Evolution.
At this point all I can say is that I know the writers and filmmakers were trying to take a page of out The Animatrix, but it didn’t completely pan out like they had hoped. We see Selene in three different timeframes and in between events of the films, but these animated shorts didn’t really add anything to the story nor were they interesting. If anything it felt like they were just rushed to be put together. Honestly they just seemed very random without any real link other than three lycan brothers on the run. All the characters are completely underdeveloped and there’s nothing to really care about. The animation was great though, but unless you are a diehard fan of Underworld you can skip this as it adds nothing to the series.
If you are wondering if this is a brand new transfer the answer is no. The transfer remains the same as it was a very good transfer the first time it was released. The film is very dark by design in order to get that gothic feel; however, this choice does affect the finer details of the film. Colors are very reduced, Black levels are very deep and at times overwhelming, but along with the blues and greys the deep red of blood shines through. Detailing is excellent throughout; however, the deep black colors tend to take away from a few scenes. The overall result is excellent though as there plenty of gorgeous moments. The does have minor video noise issues and a some grain, but many will probably overlook the problems. Underworld still looks great throughout.
Same as Underworld, the transfer remains the same as the first release. Being a film that sports an MPEG-2 encode, the film looks decent. Colors vary in the sequel; while the dark black and blue tints are predominant parts of the film appear lighter in tone. The film is dark, but not close as dark as its predecessor. With that being said we see less pale and blue. Detailing is generally good, but a few soft shots and some noise are found throughout the film. Being an early transfer certainly has something to do with it not being a better looking image, but it manages to have some wow moments. The film does look good in its own merit.
Underworld: Rise of the Lycans
With Rise of the Lycans we get back to a higher quality of transfer. The film is encoded with an MPEG4-AVC encode and for the most part the quality is higher than Evolution. Rise of the Lycans is again a very dark film with blues and black colors being predominant in the picture. Skintones, eye color, teeth, you name it is all blue. We return to the skintones being pale. Reds are possibly the only other color that looks great. Black colors are once again a bit overwhelming on the picture taking away from picture details. However, detailing isn’t all bad as there are plenty of good high detailed scenes throughout. Video noise and crushing plague the film and is hard to overlook. The choice of the filmmakers is to have a very bleak and colorless image and that is achieved at all cost. Rise of the Lycans looks good regardless.
Underworld sports a kickass PCM 5.1 track that is simply amazing. From the very first gunfight to the very last minute of the film, the track excels. Dialogue is clean and clear throughout even under all the action of the film. The rears are appropriately used throughout for ambience and other effects. Directionality is excellent. The bass is constantly piercing through the soundstage with all the bullets being fired. There’s even very detailed sound effects of the lycan transformation that is heard with perfection. The sound of flesh being pierced is also very detailed. The track even excels at creating a haunting atmosphere. It’s simply top notch.
Underworld also features a PCM 5.1 track accessible through the menu since it default to a lossy track. The track is excellent, not quite as impressive as the first Underworld, but certainly good as well. Dialogue is clean and clear throughout. Ambience and other effects are handled by the rears with great precision. Directionality is great too. Bass is very balanced and offers great support. The track is simply amazing, while a bit underwhelming when compared to Underworld, there’s nothing to envy here. Evolution sounds great on Blu-ray.
Underworld: Rise of the Lycans
Being the “newest” release of the three, Rise of the Lycans is presented with a 5.1 DTS-HD Master Audio. Now we are back up in quality, this film is another hit in the track department. Being a dialogue driven film, the narrative is clean and clear throughout. The dialogue is prioritized throughout so even the more battle intense scenes do not overwhelm it. The film sports a very detailed track, viewers will heard the swords slash through flesh in the most gruesome way, hear the arrows fly through the soundstage, or hear the Lycans transform from human to werewolves. The rears handle the ambience and other minor effects with perfect precision. The bass is always in use providing excellent support. Overall, Rise of the Lycans sounds excellent even though is not as battle intense and overwhelming as Underworld, but it’s an excellent track.
- Audio Commentary featuring Director Len Wiseman and Actors Kate Beckinsale and Scott Speedman.
- Fang vs. Fiction
- The Making of Underworld
- The Visual Effects of Underworld
- Creature Effects
- Designing Underworld
- The Look of Underworld
- Sights and Sounds
- Music Video – Works of the Earth by Finch
- Story Board Comparison
- Audio Commentary
- Bloodlines: From Script to Screen
- The Hybrid Theory
- Making Monsters Roar
- The War Rages On
- Building a Saga
- Music and Mayhem
- Music Video: Her Portrait in Black by Atreyu
Underworld: Rise of the Lycans
- Audio Commentary
- Behind the Castle Walls: Picture-in-Picture
- Lycanthropes Around the World Interactive Map
- Underworld: Rise of the Lycans: From Script to Screen
- The Origin of the Feud
- Re-Creating The Dark Ages – The Look of Underworld: Rise of the Lycans
- Music Video: Deathclub (Wes Borland/Renholder Remix) by William Control featuring Matt Skiba
- UltraViolet Digital Copy
The Underworld Trilogy offers fresh ideas to the vampire/werewolf themes even though they are not particularly new films. The movies fare differently story wise and one can say 2 out of the 3 actually enjoyable. The sequel was underwhelming, but I would say as a whole the trilogy is worth your while. The discs have remained the same from the original Blu-ray release; nothing has changed in the technical aspects of the discs. The transfers are all the same and even the trailers have not been changed. There is an added bonus though; the Endless War anime short has been added as well as an UltraViolet Digital Copy. If you already own the three movies separately or bought the previous trilogy box set, then I would suggest skipping this as it is more meant for newcomers to the series.