SONY has released the third "entry" in the "UNDERWORLD" saga, although this one, "Rise of the Lycans" is actually a prequel. It's now available for purchase as an individual title or as part of a discounted "trilogy," including the two other previously released "UNDERWORLD" blu-ray titles, although they haven't been remastered for this release.
UNDERWORLD: RISE OF THE LYCANS
While slower than the other two films in the series, "RISE OF THE LYCANS" is actually more absorbing, and in many ways, more intriguing. When Viktor(a vampire) discovers that Lucian isn't just a werewolf, but one that can change his form at will, he realizes he can utilize this skill to guard his castle during the daylight, when all vampires are vulnerable. Unfortunately, when Viktor discovers that Lucian has been romantically involved with his vampire daughter, Sonja, both of the two lovers' safety is at risk. The slave revolt that follows isn't up there with "SPARTACUS," but there are enough great moments in "RISE OF THE LYCANS," to recommend this one whole-heartedly. Also, Rhona Mitra bares a similar resemblance to Kate Beckinsale, and while her acting is decent, it's Michael Sheen as Lucien, who steals the film. This guy is really great in his role, and carries the film when it's in danger of becoming too slow.
SONY has provided the correct 2.40:1 aspect ratio for this 1080p/AVC MPEG-4 blu-ray. WOW! It's a fantastic transfer! In spite of heavily stylized imagery, weighted with deep blues and extremely dark set-ups, the detail is typically perfect! There are only a handful of scenes which fall flat. Otherwise, scene upon scene offers "jump-off-the-screen" depth! It's more impressive than the other two films in the series, and ranks up there with the best looking blu-rays available.
SONY has provided a Dolby TrueHD 5.1 mix. While never dull, this mix isn't as aggressive as the other films in the series, and the TrueHD mix doesn't offer as deep bass as the PCM mixes on the other films do. However, as action picks up in various scenes, the mix becomes alive with a vigor, well complimented by the lossy mix offered. Bass, and discrete effects blend well together and dialogue is never overshadowed. It's an extremely fine mix, but short of reference quality.
SONY has included loads of extras for this blu-ray release. In addition to carrying over all of the dvd extras(in HD), we also get "Cinechat," an option allowing viewers to communicate with one another while all watching the feature at same time.
The Picture-in-picture option is arguably the best feature, presenting interviews, behind-the-scenes footage, and more, while the film plays out on bigger screen.
The audio commentary with the director, executive producer, creator(Len Wiseman)and producers, is entertaining, for the most part, but it gets tiring half-way through.
A music video(HD), mini-documentary and featurette are also offered in HD.
SONY has released the "UNRATED" version of
"UNDERWORLD." Len Wiseman's attempt at an epic telling of vampires vs
werewolves, with a love story as its centerpiece, is alternately intriguing,
beautiful and dull! While an epic look at a centuries old battle between two
supernatural entities offers great potential, the narrative is just not fine
tuned. There are numerous scenes that don't do anything to move the film along
and while the "MATRIX"-style effects are interesting, they become redundant the
20th and 30th time they're used here!
Kate Beckinsale looks great in leather, but she's never as hot as Pam Anderson was in "BARBWIRE" and, in fact, the film could've used that kind of look or wink at the audience somewhere in this film that actually takes itself too seriously, with not enough to offer.
SONY has provided a generally stunning transfer! The 1080p/AVC MPEG-4 image has the correct 2.35:1 aspect ratio. There are many bright sequences wherein the exquisite detail offers jump off the screen imagery! However, there are some darker moments (within an already dark film)wherein detail is lost due to the black levels. It's sad to lose so much of the depth achieved in so many of the other scenes.
SONY has provided a PCM 5.1 mix. The mix is fantastic!!! From the very beginning of the film and throughout, discrete and panning effects kick into high gear with maximum impact. There are numerous bass effects and it's one of the most immersive experiences we've had in a long time! Dialogue is perfectly rendered, even within layers of effects.
SONY has included some great extras, including a good(not great)commentary with Beckinsale, her husband-director, and co-star). Some great documentaries and more are also included!
One of the problems with the original “UNDERWORLD” was Director Len Wiseman’s desire to give more attention to visual atmosphere and effects than overall story and pacing. It was still impressive, but awfully slow in pace.
Well, “UNDERWORLD: EVOLUTION” makes its predecessor’s length feel like a short cell phone clip by comparison! The entire prologue does nothing to really enlighten new viewers of the films in any way making it seem necessary. However, after this wasted footage, it at least picks up where the last one left off. But, unfortunately, it doesn’t really venture anywhere story-wise that feels new.
The special effects are, again, impressive, and even improve upon the original, but what about a plot? Sure, there’s a love story of sorts, but if one doesn’t care about the characters, so what? It feels pretty obvious that Wiseman was given a bigger budget and a go-ahead to do more of what he did in the first film, based on its success, but he didn’t improve upon the original in any meaningful way. There’s just a lot more production design and a lot more of “slow pacing!”
SONY has given this film an outstanding presentation on BLU-RAY! The dvd version offered a stunning image, however “BLU-RAY” offers a much more impressive image. To begin with, the scenes that felt too dark on dvd, have incredible clarity and brightness on “BLU-RAY!” The 1080p resolution really shines in every moment on this release. Detail really makes the image appear to be jumping off the screen at times!
The original 2.35:1 image is intact and none of the edge enhancement problems plaguing various dvds is present on this “BLU-RAY”. While Kate Beckinsale’s beauty is a matter of taste, there can be little argument, that she’s never looked hotter than she does here as she walks and prowls in her incredibly detailed leather outfit on this BLU-RAY release!
SONY has presented a “PCM” 5.1 mix and it’s outstanding!!! While the dvd version had some noticeable problems related to the subwoofer effects, the fidelity is greatly improved here. The quality of Surround and discrete effects offer enough substantial improvement over the dvd version, to make audiophiles really pleased with the “BLU-RAY” format.
SONY has filled this “BLU-RAY” release with extras! In addition to several featurettes and a music video, there is a surprisingly captivating commentary offered with Wiseman and others.