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SONY

MOVIE INFO

Director:
Len Wiseman
Cast:
Kate Beckinsale, Scott Speedman, Bill Nighy
Writing Credits:
Danny McBride

Synopsis:
Vampire warrior Selene and the half werewolf Michael hunt for clues to reveal the history of their races and the war between them.

Box Office:
Budget
$45 million.
Opening Weekend
$26,857,181 on 3207 screens.
Domestic Gross:
$62,318,875.

MPAA:
Rated R.

DISC DETAILS
Presentation:
Aspect Ratio: 2.39:1
Audio:
English PCM 5.1
English Dolby 5.1
French Dolby 5.1
Subtitles:
English
Spanish
French
Portuguese
Chinese
Closed-captioned
Supplements Subtitles:
None

Runtime: 106 min.
Price: $14.99
Release Date: 6/20/2006

Bonus:
• Audio Commentary with Director Len Wiseman, Production Designer Patrick Tatopoulos, 2nd Unit Director Brad Martin & Editor Nick De Toth
• 6 Featurettes
• Music Video
• Previews


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RELATED REVIEWS


Underworld: Evolution [Blu-Ray] (2006)

Reviewed by Colin Jacobson (November 1, 2021)

With a worldwide gross of $95 million, 2003’s Underworld didn’t exactly become a smash hit. However, given its relatively low $22 million budget, it turned a nice profit, and this led to a sequel via 2006’s Underworld: Evolution.

After a prologue in 1202 AD, Evolution picks up where the first film finished and focuses on the continued relationship between vampire warrior Selene (Kate Beckinsale) and werewolf/vampire hybrid Michael (Scott Speedman). She bonded with him against the wishes of her tribe, and this leaves her an outcast on the run with Michael.

While the vampires and Lycans continue their eternal battle, Selene and Michael attempt to stay alive as they pursue revelations about their species’ history. This leads to potential conflicts when original vampire Markus Corvinus (Tony Curran) goes after his own agenda, one that will exacerbate the violent feud.

As I noted in my review of the 2003 film, I thought Underworld came with promise that went unfulfilled. It seemed more concerns with moody visuals than with a coherent plot or compelling action.

Nonetheless, I held out hope that perhaps Evolution would take better advantage of the property’s potential. I know that sequels usually fare worse than their predecessors, but I figured that with the first flick’s exposition out of the way, maybe Evolution would come with a more involving plot and/or livelier action.

Nope. Though it dabbles in some different plot elements, Evolution shows little purpose beyond the pursuit of vampire/werewolf action.

Which might seem adequate if the fight scenes offered more of a visceral impact. Unfortunately, most of these feel like the proverbial “style over substance”, as they seem more concerned with Looking Cool than delivering dynamic material.

Oh, a couple of sequences fare pretty well. For example, one in which Selene and Michael find themselves attacked as they flee in a truck becomes fairly exciting and inventive.

However, most of the action pieces just seem like they care more about art design and slow-motion photography than actual thrills. A lot of the material can feel redundant, as the filmmakers fail to find creative new ways to stage the scenes.

With a more compelling narrative, the inadequacies of the fights would feel less problematic, but Evolution never becomes especially involving. Again, the film teases us with some elements that occasionally threaten to turn intriguing, such as Michael’s struggles to adapt to his new status.

However, Evolution drops themes and plotlines too easily. It never becomes especially coherent, so even when we find interesting ideas, they tend to falter and lack consistency.

As with the first movie, I don’t think Evolution ever becomes genuinely bad, but also like its predecessor, it disappoints because it squanders its potential. Maybe the third film will improve on the model, but Evolution becomes another oddly dull action flick.


The Disc Grades: Picture C/ Audio B+/ Bonus B

Underworld: Evolution appears in an aspect ratio of approximately 2.39:1 on this Blu-ray Disc. Literally one of the very first Blu-rays to hit the market in 2006, Evolution showed its age.

Sharpness varied. While parts of he movie brought appealing delineation, others came across as somewhat soft and indistinct.

I noticed no signs of jagged edges or moiré effects, but light edge haloes crept into the presentation. Print flaws stayed minor, as I noticed nothing more than a couple small specks.

Like the first movie, Evolution went with a heavily blue palette, though amber emerged as part of the scheme as well. Within these parameters, the tones seemed adequate, if not impressive.

Blacks tended to seem a bit inky and mushy, while shadows felt a little dull. This was never a bad image, but it seemed dated and bland.

At least the movie’s Uncompressed PCM 5.1 soundtrack boasted greater charms, as it brought the expected high-octane action theatrics. With a lot of fights, weapons and vehicles, the soundscape enjoyed plenty of room to impress.

This meant various effects from all around the room, and they meshed to create a strong package. Music showed good presence as well, so this turned into an engaging soundfield.

Audio quality worked fine, with speech that sounded natural and concise. Music appeared full and vibrant as well.

Effects showed nice impact and clarity, with solid bass response to add punch to the material. This was an appealing soundtrack.

As we head to extras, we open with an audio commentary from director Len Wiseman, production designer Patrick Tatopoulos, second unit director Brad Martin, and editor Nick De Toth. All four sit together for this running, screen-specific look at sets and locations, effects and stunts, photography and editing, and related topics.

Given the personnel involved, I expected a commentary that focused mainly technical topics, and that proves accurate. A few notes about the actors arise, primarily when Wiseman discusses the discomfort that came when he needed to direct his wife Kate Beckinsale in a love scene.

Otherwise, we mostly cover nuts and bolts, and that works fine. The participants keep things light and don’t go too far into the weeds, so this turns into a pretty engaging chat.

Under Featurettes, we get six programs. Viewed via “Play All”, these come with a total running time of one hour, 13 minutes, five seconds and bring remarks from Wiseman, Tatopoulos, Martin, executive producers David Coatsworth and Gary Lucchesi, VFX supervisors Payam Shohadai and James McQuaide, creature effects supervisor Guy Himber, sound supervisor Scott Gershin, composer Marco Beltrami and actors Kate Beckinsale, Scott Speedman, Tony Curran, Bill Nighy, Derek Jacobi, and Steven Mackintosh.

The featurettes look at story/characters, cast and performances, various effects, creature design, stunts and action, sets and locations, sound and music.

The featurettes cover a good array of topics, and they do so in a fairly positive manner. We get a little too much happy talk along the way, but the programs work well most of the time.

We also find a music video for “Her Portrait in Black” by Atreyu. Annoying Nu Metal of the 2006 era, the song is terrible, and with a mix of lip-synch performance and movie clips, the video stinks as well.

Previews offers promos for Resident Evil: Apocalypse and Stealth. No trailer for Evolution appears here.

Underworld offered a slick but less than exciting action flick, and Underworld: Evolution follows the same pattern. While it occasionally shows glimmer of hope, most of the movie feels strangely flat and uninvolving. The Blu-ray boasts very good audio and an array of bonus materials but visuals seem mediocre. Expect a forgettable adventure here.

Viewer Film Ratings: 2.5 Stars Number of Votes: 2
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