Underworld: Awakening (Blu-ray)

May 8, 2012 7 Min Read

Review by: Matt Brighton

Plot: What’s it about?

Looking back, it’s somewhat difficult to believe (or realize) that it’s now been a decade since the first Underworld movie. Yes, I’ll be the first to admit that the past decade we’ve seen our share of vampires and werewolves, though I’ve always enjoyed this series of movies. Or maybe I enjoy Kate Beckinsale? Regardless, she’s in three of the four movies (so far) and after taking a break, she’s back in her full body spandex and black corset. And while vampire movies are literally a dime a dozen these days with the Twilight saga on film and True Blood on television, it’s hard to escape these fictitious blood suckers. Still, the Underworld movies, like Resident Evil is to zombies, seems to have a rather unique approach. But the real question is this: is this movie worth seeing? Well if you’ve seen the first three, are you really going to stop now? I didn’t think so.

We step forward in time a bit and humankind has discovered the existence of both Vampires and Lycans. Mankind can’t have this, so they start an all out war to annihilate both species. Selene (Kate Beckinsale) and Michael are both captured and she awakens a dozen years later to find that her species is nearly extinct. Selene is now on a mission to find out what’s going on, who she can trust and what’s happened to the last dozen years of her life (not that time matters too much when you’re immortal). To her surprise, she learns that she’s got a daughter named Eve (India Eisley) who possesses great powers of her own. It’s essentially Selene versus the world as she shoots up everything that moves. Her only allies are a streetwise detective (Michael Ealy) and her daughter. With the world seemingly against her, will Selene be able to break free and find out the answers to her questions or will she, like so many others, end up in a permanent sleep?

Admittedly this fourth installment is a bit of a departure from the previous films. And, in fact, without giving too much away about the ending I’d say that we’ll most likely see a fifth installment in the not too distant future. As much as I’ve enjoyed these films I’m not sure if it’s time to call them quits or have another line of vampire films start up. Bear in mind that as long as movies have been around so too have vampires as the subject matter (Nosferatu first debuted in 1922). To me, this had more of a Resident Evil feel to it in that the corporation was the general public, but this “one person against all” seems to have been played out. There’s no denying that these movies are a bona fide franchise, however. Fans will want to give this a look but for me they somewhat begin and end with the first two.

Video: How does it look?

I know that I’m stating the obvious when I say that Underworld: Awakening is a dark movie. Essentially all movies with vampires as the subjects will be. This 2.40:1 AVC HD image is nearly flawless, though. Blacks are deep and rich and Selene’s pasty white skin looks smooth as silk throughout. Detail is impressive throughout as we see the individual hairs on the Lycans, the shine from Selene’s corset and the image clarity in pretty much every scene. I really saw no evidence of artifacting and contrast is strong. There’s not a lot to nitpick here as the movie looks great, consistent with a new to Blu-ray film.

Audio: How does it sound?

One word to describe this movie? Loud. Ok, two. Very loud! I really don’t think that I’ve heard a movie that uses the LFE as often as this one. My sub isn’t even that big and it was almost constantly humming along. I lost count of exactly how many bullets were fired in the film (not that I was counting), but shots are fired, things blow up and there’s enough action in 90 minutes to justify your surround sound. Vocals are clear and strong, surrounds are prevalent throughout. If ever there was a reference quality soundtrack, this DTS HD Master Audio soundtrack fits the bill to a tee. Amazing.

Supplements: What are the extras?

There are enough supplements on this disc to warrant a purchase, though some of these featurettes do tend to be a bit repetitive. We start off with a commentary track with producers Richard Wright and Gary Lucchesi joined with directors Mans Marlind and Bjorn Stein as well as effects supervisor James McQuaide. We get a very technical commentary here with the challenges of CGI, shooting in 3D and everything else we hear on every other commentary track out there. The up side is that there aren’t a lot of dull spots and they prattle on for the entire 90 minutes. “Selene Rises” focuses on the return of Kate Beckinsale to the role. “Casting the Future of Underworld” showcases the new additions to the film, Theo James and India Eisley (the detective and Selene’s son). “Resuming the Action” is a look at the action scenes, stunts and everything else involved with this vampire/action film. “Awakening a Franchise, Building a Better World” looks at the details of the shoot, the special effects and the unique visual style of the movie. We also get a blooper reel, a music video: “Heavy Prey” by Lacey Sturm and exclusive to the Blu-ray is a picture-in-picture experience. There’s also a DVD and a UV copy of the film as well.

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