Underworld: Awakening appears in an aspect ratio of approximately 2.40:1 on this Blu-Ray Disc. Across the board, this was an excellent presentation.
At all times, sharpness looked terrific. I noticed no signs of softness or tentative visuals here, as the movie was consistently tight and well-defined. Moiré effects and jagged edges remained absent, and I failed to discern any edge haloes, artifacts or print flaws in this smooth image.
In terms of colors, expect an exceedingly blue palette here. The movie came bathed in blues from start to finish, with hardly any other hues on display. Within those parameters, the tones seemed solid. Blacks were deep and dense, while low-light shots demonstrated nice clarity and delineation. I felt impressed with this top-notch visual presentation.
You’ll find more positives from the engulfing DTS-HD MA 7.1 soundtrack of Awakening. With a lot of action scenes at its disposal, the movie boasted many opportunities for immersive action, and it made the most of these. From various supernatural creatures to vehicles to explosions to gunfire, a variety of action elements filled the room and created a great sense of place. The elements seemed well-placed and blended together in a clean way to occupy all the front and rear channels with lots of engaging information.
I also felt the quality of the audio satisfied. Speech was distinctive and crisp, without harshness or other concerns. Music appeared vivid and full, while effects came across as dynamic and bold. We got plenty of tight, deep bass response in this consistently strong soundtrack.
Awakening comes with a pretty sizable roster of extras. We open with an audio commentary from directors Måns Mårlind and Björn Stein, producers Gary Lucchesi and Richard Wright, and executive producer/visual effects supervisor James McQuaide. All five sit together for this running, screen-specific discussion of story/character subjects, various effects and visual design, cast and performances, action and stunts, sets and locations, and shooting 3D.
Expect a peppy and reasonably informative chat here. The various participants mesh well and ensure that the commentary moves at a brisk pace. It’s not the richest movie discussion I’ve heard, but then again, Awakening isn’t exactly a deep flick, so the track covers it fairly well.
Next comes a picture-in-picture experience called “Cracking the Underworld”. This isn’t quite as exciting as one might expect from this sort of feature. Most provide interviews and behind the scene footage, but this one is essentially a glorified trivia track.
Throughout the film, we get occasional text notes about the Underworld series, as we learn about the species and history of the franchise’s universe. We also see snippets from the prior Underworld films along the way. All of this adds up to a decent text commentary but not a particularly involving one, especially because the blurbs don’t pop up with great frequency; they’re not terribly sporadic, but it would’ve been nice if “Cracking” used the dead space for filmmaking details.
Five featurettes fill a total of one hour, two minutes, 55 seconds. These include “Selene Rises” (12:14), “Casting the Future of Underworld” (12:33), “Resuming the Action” (8:52), “Building a Better Lycan” (10:20) and “Awakening a Franchise: Building a Brutal New World” (18:53). Across these, we hear from Lucchesi, Wright, Mårlind, Stein, McQuaide, producer Tom Rosenberg, screenwriter/producer Len Wiseman, costume designer Monique Prudhomme, 2nd unit director/stunt coordinator Brad Martin, executive producers David Coatsworth and David Kern, makeup FX supervisor Todd Masters, Lycan performer Dan Payne, Celluloid visual effects Andreas Gutsche, stereographer Kasimir Lehto, production designer Claude Pare, and actors Kate Beckinsale, India Eisley, Theo James, Michael Ealy, Charles Dance, Stephen Rea, and Kris Holden-Ried.
The featurettes cover bringing Beckinsale back for another film and aspects of her character/performance, additional notes about the narrative and participants, cast and acting, stunts and effects, shooting 3D, creature design and makeup, locations and various visual elements.
If you choose to watch these featurettes, you can safely skip “Selene” and “Casting”; both are little more than fluffy puff pieces. Matters improve substantially with “Action”, however, and both “Lycan” and “Building” work pretty well, too; all three offer good facts about the film and throw in nice behind the scenes footage.
Normally we get outtakes for comedies, but even the humorless Awakening delivers a Blooper Reel. It runs three minutes, 21 seconds and shows a mix of mistakes and silly moments from the set. It’s typical fare that becomes theoretically more interesting just due to the contrast between the somber movie and the goofiness of the blooper concept.
After this we find a music video for “Heavy Prey” by Lacey Sturm Featuring Geno Lenardo. This comes with the standard complement of film clips, but it almost sorta kinda attempts its own storyline. Mostly it acts as an excuse to show us lots of the film and Sturm’s relentless emoting. She’s attractive but too annoying to make this a watchable video. The song’s an overwrought mess, too.
The disc opens with ads for Ghost Rider: Spirit of Vengeance, The Woman in Black, Starship Troopers: Invasion and the Resident Evil: Damnation video game. These also appear under Previews along with clips for The Raid: Redemption and 21 Jump Street. No trailer for Awakening pops up here.
With four films under its belt, the Underworld series continues to chug along, but not with compelling results. Awakening feels like a regurgitation of ideas from other, better action flicks and lacks personality and excitement. The Blu-ray delivers excellent picture and audio as well as a reasonably useful compilation of supplements. Maybe die-hard Underworld fans will like Awakening, but it bored me.