The world needed another Underworld film, right? Of course it did! Don’t kid yourself for one single minute that Kate Beckinsale’s tight, formfitting black leather outfit doesn’t fill theater seats. Of course it/she does! And don’t fret! Sony Pictures didn’t let us down. Not by a long shot, in my opinion. There’s plenty of Kate Beckinsale a$$ shots to go around. Rest assured…even if you’re Gregg Senko and this is your most anticipated film of 2012, it’s hard, again…in my opinion, not to at least have some fun with this a$$ kicking fourth entry in the Underworld franchise. Everyone loves a good time, right? Why so serious?!
The walking art form, otherwise known as Kate Beckinsale, reprises her role as Selene as the original franchise resumes its continuity some six months after the events of the second film, Underworld: Evolution. We are quickly introduced to the “Purge,” a time when the pesky humans have enacted a global military crusade to eradicate the world of vampires and lycans after mankind has learned of their existence, and worst of all…beautiful Selene has been both captured and exiled. And before I go on let me get address the following. Many naysayers of this fourth entry have complained about the involvement of the humans, but quite honestly, I love how they have shaken things up here. I guess the same goes for how I love my humans in the Transformers franchise. It just makes the film feel that much more grounded. God…I know I’m going to get grilled for that statement. Gerard has a four-letter acronym he likes to tell his haters, but I’ll spare the populous here.
Now let’s fast-forward 12 years ahead in time. Are you still with me? Grand! That’s the spirit. Those pesky humans are at it again as they are seen doing nothing but gloating and who can blame them with the stats they claim to have achieved. I’d be proud of them too…if they were true. You see, the humans claim they have exterminated 95% of the vampire race. Now that’s quite an accomplishment. Don’t you think so? However, that previous accomplishment doesn’t sound as far fetched as this next one does. The humans also boast about how they believe the lycans to be all but extinct. Come on! Really? That’s why we fail people…as a race.
You didn’t think Selene could stay in exile for 13 years, did you? Heck no! She is “awakened” and that’s when the real a$$ kicking begins. And quite honestly, I think that’s why I really had fun with this movie. If you wanted action and hardcore violence, then you came to the wrong place. Selene takes NO prisoners are she ruthlessly slays and extracts her vengeance on anyone that seemingly gets in her way all the while she suffers from haunting visions, believed to be some kind of link between her and her vampire-lycan hybrid lover, Michael Corvin. However, not everyone gets annihilated by Selene. She does quickly develop a soft spot for a young girl named Eve (India Eisley). Hmm…I wonder why? I guess you will have to watch and find out, won’t you?
It’s basically like this. Underworld: Awakening feels like an Underworld film, but maybe…just maybe…not so much as the previous three do. To me…it has a very British vibe to it. BUT…I would dare to compare this entry more so in line with the mindless numbing action of a Resident Evil picture, rather than the savage and charming qualities of the three previous Underworld entries. Yes I said it. I am a huge fan of Underworld: Rise of the Lycans. And quite honestly, I know people who have loved this fourth one and also legions of fans that have absolutely despised it. I guess you will have to be the judge. Judge for yourself, yo!
You want to hear something way cool? Of course you do! Underworld: Awakening is one of the first movies to be shot using a RED EPIC digital camera in the 3D format. I know! Amazing, huh? And it’s no surprise that since the mass critics hated, I liked it. LOL. But let’s be honest. It more than doubled it’s money at the box office so all’s not a loss and I’m pretty sure you can take this to the bank and cash it that we have not seen the last of the Underworld series on the big screen. And that’s fine by me. As long as Kate Beckinsale keeps looking as fine as she does, I’ll keep buying a ticket and the resulting Blu-ray copy. You can surely take that to the bank and cash it!
Underworld: Awakening stars Kate Beckinsale (duh), Sandrine Holt, India Eisley, Theo James, Michale Ealy, Charles Dance, Stephen Rea, and a digitally superimposed facial likeness of Scott Speedman. And here’s an interesting fact times two. Underworld: Awakening is the first film in 2012 to pass the $100 million mark worldwide and it is also the highest grossing film in the Underworld series, both domestically and worldwide. So tell me, naysayers…how do you like those apples? LOL. Now let’s talk about Blu-ray apples, shall we?
Alright, so you don’t like the movie you say. Well, there’s no way you can fault this film’s fine 1080p MPEG-4 AVC transfer. Underworld: Awakening is framed in a 2.40:1 aspect ration and it looks utterly simply bone chilling…in a good way. LOL. The stylistic qualities of the first three films remain unchanged here. Selene’s bright blue eyes, although I can’t usually take my eyes off her um…, are the most vibrant part of the presentation throughout its runtime. The cold and sterile hues perfectly complement the movie’s hostile, desolate and violent tone. Despite it’s limited colors, the transfer features exquisite clarity and sharpness. Fine detail is prominent and best of all…you won’t find any unwanted visual distractions, specks or noise. As Kiss always said, “You wanted the best. You got the best.” You’ll definitely want to sink your vampire or lycan teeth into this one.
Do you hear that? Neither can I. I think I’m deaf after subjecting myself and succumbing to this bombastic DTS-HD MA 7.1 lossless soundtrack. Wow! Things that make you go hmm. This soundtrack is huge. It will definitely have you looking for the remote with its over the top, aggressive nature. The heavy volume is perfectly balanced. It puts you right in the middle of all the action. It’s virtual immersion at its finest. Guns and explosions seem to go off and fire at you from every corner of your listening environment and best of all, the dialog, thanks be to God, never gets lost in the shuffle. It’s always strong and understandable. You can’t go wrong here folks. This is what Blu-ray dreams are made of. Move over King Kong, there’s a new Blu-ray beast in town. Underworld: Awakening’s audio delivers the goods! There’s no doubt about that. It’s my undisputed champion this year.
Even I have to admit, there’s a pretty nice little package of special features to be found here. Underwworld: Awakening features not only a commentary track, but also a picture-in-picture experience too. Who could possibly ask for anything more? I can, that’s who. And luckily, I do get more. Let’s move pass the chit chat, and focus on the goods. Here we go!
- Fillmakers’ Commentary – The producers, directors and the visual effects supervisor all speak about the making of the film and the inherit challenges that go with the territory. I actually found this one to be quite entertaining. Check it out!
- Selene Rises (HD, 12:14) – With a name like this, what do you think this one’s about? You guessed it! The return of Kate Beckinsale and the um…costumes.
- Casting the Future of Underworld (HD, 12:33) – This one spends some time with actors Theo James and India Eisley, as well as a discussion about potential sequels. You have to love the sound of that!
- Resuming the Action (HD, 8:52) – All things stunt work and 3D can be found here.
- Building a Better Lycan (HD, 10:20) – This one’s all about the werewolf visuals. Oh yeah, baby!
- Awakening a Franchise, Building a Better World (HD, 18:53) – This one is really just more of the same making of and visual effects, unfortunately. Yada yada yada.
- Music Video (HD, 3:25) – This features the music video of “Heavy Prey” by Flyleaf’s Lacey Sturm and Geno Lenardo.
- Blooper Reel (HD, 3:21) – Laugh! I command you!
- Cracking the Underworld: Picture-in-Picture Experience – How can you not watch this?
- UV Digital Copy (SD) – One word…BOO!
So there you have it…another Blu-ray review under my belt and another demo/reference quality Blu-ray title to show off to friends and family. With a story some love to hate and others that absolutely just can’t get enough of, Underworld: Awakening is a win-win in the audio and video departments and #4 on my list of the way I rank my liking of the four films in the franchise. Can you guess which one I like best? It’s not hard. Fans of the original trilogy shouldn’t hesitate in picking this up, but newcomers may want to give the first three a quick watch so they know what they are getting themselves into, an @$$ kicking good time, if you don’t mind me saying. But that’s for you to decide. If you are undecided, then in the legendary Nike words…just do it! Pre-order it now! Have at it vampire and werewolf fans!
Underworld: Awakening rises on Blu-ray May 8th.