Vampires and Lycans come to a breaking point in this modernized tale of two ancient creatures battling for superiority.
Since humans have written stories, they’ve told the tale of mythical beings known as vampires and werewolves. These creatures appear in all cultures and mythologies, and surprisingly have the same traits as the other versions. Vampires are monsters of the night that suck the life force out of their victims. They’re pale, strong, seductive, and smart. Werewolves on the other hand are brutal, animal-like, and terrifying. They also go into a murderous-rage during the full-moon. The lore of these two creatures have lasted thousands of years, and continue to capture the interest of people today. There are cults and various societies who claim they are the modern-day versions of these creatures as well. That’s some pretty freaky stuff, folks.
Vampires and werewolves (lycans) don’t particularly get along. They don’t mingle with one another at social venues, and they usually get into quite the scuffle when they’re passing by. It’s a feud as old as time, and it remains the same to this day. The two definitely don’t believe in mixing the clans either. Not only is the idea preposterous, it’s incredibly dangerous according to the ancient lore. But what if a vampire and lycan fell in love? We can’t help who we love, right? Even if it’s with our greatest enemy. This is the basis for the feud and attempted genocide of the Lycans in Underworld.
As the story goes, the Vampires and Lycans are at war. The Vampires have taken on an agenda to rid the world of the vicious creatures known as Lycans. They have assigned kill squads to hunt and terminate every one they come across. These highly trained and capable Vampires have a keen eye for spotting Lycans amongst a crowd. Their ability to search and destroy has also caused a change in the Lycans though. Even when it’s not a full moon, the Lycans can morph into the furry-rage-monsters at will, allowing them to fight back in a time of attack. And when they rage out, you better hope no one else is around. The problem is the Lycans don’t care. This puts the Vampires in an awkward position. They’ve been living amongst humans for millennia now, with little to no exposure. They live in secret and hunt in the shadows. If the Lycans push caution to the wind and are willing to transform anytime and anywhere, it’s only a matter of time until the world discovers their true nature.
This story begins with one of the Vampire’s best ‘Death Dealers,’ named Selene (Kate Beckinsale). She’s wickedly beautiful and incredibly deadly. Her kill squad are in pursuit of a group of Lycans. All she knows is that they are searching for someone. A Human. It’s her job to figure out what the Lycans are planning and to stop it if possible. All the while, the rest of the Vampires are enjoying the pleasures of their immortality. After several battles with the Lycans, Selene discovers they are attempting to locate an ancient bloodline of one of the first immortals. Ironically it’s within a random human named Michael (Scott Speedman). His blood has the ability to bond both Lycan and Vampire blood, and is the prime target of the Lycan overlord known as Lucian (Michael Sheen). He has a vendetta against the Vampires and will stop at nothing until he captures Michael. With his blood he can finally end the conflict between the Vampires and Lycans.
Once Selene uncovers Lucian’s plan, she struggles to convince the leader of the Vampire clan, Kraven (Shane Brolly), to stop this travesty. The rest of the Vampires follow his lead, so Selene decides to take matters into her own hands. To accomplish this, she begins the resurrection process of an old Vampire leader named Viktor (Bill Nighy). He’s not due to be revived for another century or two, but Selene believes he’s the only one who can stop this madness. This gets her in a lot of trouble with the Vampire leadership.
Think Selene can rescue Michael from Lucian and preserve the Vampire clan for centuries to come? You’ll have to tune in to find out!
Enough about that…Let’s take a look at what’s included with this 4K Blu-ray combo.
The menu design consists of several looping clips from the film. The menu options are listed along the bottom of the screen, and include: Play Movie, Languages, Scene Selections, and Special Features. The ‘Languages’ options allows viewers to choose the audio and subtitle languages for the film. The Audio languages include: English Dolby Atmos, English PCM 5.1 (Uncompressed), English 5.1, French 5.1, Italian PCM 5.1 (Uncompressed), and Italian 5.1. The Subtitle options consist of the same languages. The ‘Scene Selections’ option displays all sixteen chapters at a time. Each one is numbered and includes a snapshot from the scene.
Now let’s take a look at the bonus features included with this 4K Blu-ray combo!
– Special Feature Subtitles: This is not a typical feature included with Bonus Features of a Blu-ray, so it’s worth noting.
– Commentary with Director Len Wiseman and Actors Kate Beckinsale and Scott Speedman.
– Outtakes (3:43 HD): For such a serious film, it’s funny how the actors break out in laughter when they mess up a line or a set/prop malfunctions. This clip is full of scenes that go wrong in one way or another. Fans will definitely want to watch this bonus feature.
– Featurettes (2:13:38 SD): This is an awesome extra that includes eight features for the film. The first forty-seven minutes of this feature is a show called Fang Vs. Fiction. The quality is rough and in a 4:3 ratio, but the content discussed is fantastic. In the beginning, they take a closer look at the history of vampires and werewolves, how they were represented back then, what they may be like now, and even includes several testimonials of folks who claim to be one or the other today! Viewers will have to take this info with a grain of salt, but it’s a very interesting feature nonetheless. The next feature (The Making of Underworld) discusses the film itself, how it came to be, the creators’ vision, and the result of their work. Viewers get to see the practical Lycan suite and heads used in the film. Seeing the head and its abilities is astounding. They can make the lips curl, eyes squint, and fangs expose. It’s freaky. They also show how they did some of the stunts. It’s a really good behind-the-scene clip. There’s a ton of practical effects used in the film, but there were a lot of CGI used as well. The third clip (The Visual Effects of Underworld) takes a closer at the CGI used in the final product. The fourth feature (Creature Effects) is all about the creature effects used in the film. With a film like this, it made sense to use both practical and digital effects. The creators wanted to use as much practical effects possible, because it brought realism to the scene. Actors could interface with actual objects, props, and creatures, so the result was more authentic when compared to CGI. There’s also things they desired that couldn’t be accomplished or didn’t look like when done practically though, so CGI played a major role in completing the illusion. Together, they made something that was visually impressive all around. The fifth feature (Stunts) pertains to the extensive stunts seen in the film. At first, viewers will see there’s some big issue between the Director and Stunt man, but they’ll quickly learn that it’s a joke. The two are great friends, and have a lot of respect for one another. This feature shows how a lot of the movie magic was made in the practical sense. It’s pretty amazing stuff they were able to do. The jump by Kate’s character in the beginning was a real 150ft jump off a tower. It was done by a stunt women, but it was real nonetheless. Next we have Production Design (Designing Underworld). Building the right sets for the mood and story play a huge part in any film. This film in particular had to have a sense of history within a modern world. The production designer created these merged worlds in a fascinating way. The sets are intricate, beautiful, and huge. All of the sets looked great. The set design was very well done. The next feature (The Look of Underworld) is all about the Director’s vision. He wanted it to look real, but much like a comic book. He accomplished his goals by expressing himself to the crew with drawings. This was a huge help for all involved, and was one of the reasons Kate Beckinsale said yes to a project that’s outside her wheelhouse. This being his first major film, he was very particular about color, look, feel, location, etc. This feature explores the crew and their decisions made during pre-production. Of all the places they visited around the world, Budapest turned out to be the best place for filming the majority of the movie. The final clip (Sights and Sounds) consists of a lot of B-roll footage. Its fast cuts, over the shoulder shots, silly faces from those on camera, behind-the-scenes shots, and more.
– Music Video by Finch: “Worms of the Earth” (2:45 SD): This is the rock video for the band/song mentioned in the title. It’s well-edited and mixes footage of the band and clips from the film.
– Storyboard Comparison (6:42 SD): As mentioned previously, the Director drew a lot of the scenes himself to help the cinematographers capture his vision on film. This feature displays some of those drawings alongside the scenes they represent. It’s a cool feature that display conception to the final product.
Now let’s take a look at the technical side of this release.
The 2160p 4K Ultra HD image with High Dynamic Range (HDR) comes with an aspect ratio of 2.39:1, so there are black bars along the top and bottom of your 4K HDTV. No need to worry though, as this is quite the dark film. Those pesky bars will quickly be forgotten as the first scene unfolds. The color palette of Underworld is primarily just blue, black, red, and various greys. This was a stylistic choice from the very beginning, and it does serve a purpose. Director Len Wiseman was very particular about the color, contrast, and look of this film. He made the decision to digitize the film so they could add color gradients where it was needed. They allowed for a wealth of control in how the film looked from beginning to end. With the ability to have such precision, they film was color-graded exactly as they planned. This excessive amount of detail and control can easily be seen in the 4K transfer. The original format was captured in 2K, so this is mainly just an upscale, but it’s full of detail even with the muted color palette. The inclusion of HDR simply adds to the stark contrast. This can be seen especially during the dark vampire close-ups. Their pale skin against their black backgrounds are quite stunning. This is easily the best looking version of the film to date.
The Dolby Atmos track really shines in this transfer. All the channels are utilized from beginning to end. There are constant ambient effects that surround the viewer. If you have the typical 5.1 or 7.1 setup, this audio track will still sound amazing. The various monster sounds and hundreds of bullets fired in this film will zoom past viewers as they become engulfed in the scenes. The transformations of the Lycans are even more terrifying with the accompanying effects as well. This is a booming audio track that helps complete the visual illusion as it unfolds on your 4K HDTV screen.
Overall, Underworld is a new twist on the ancient battle between Vampires and Werewolves (Lycans). The old and new lifestyles are perfectly blended as this ancient feud reaches the breaking point in this modern-day monster tale. In a lot of ways it looks and feels identical to The Matrix, but instead of Computer programs, humans and Artificial-Intelligence; we have Vampires and Lycans. This story has a lot of twists which forces the viewer to wonder who are the good guys and who the bad are. It’s hard to tell as more truths are revealed. Perhaps they are both terrible creatures, and the humans are the true protagonists in this story. Nevertheless, the question you have to ask yourself is…are you Team Vampire or Team Lycan?
If you’re a fan of this film, it’s worth adding this new release to your 4K Blu-ray collection. It contains all of the previous bonus features, audio commentary, the extended cut, and the 4K upscale with High Dynamic Range (HDR). Pick it up on 4K Blu-ray today!