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COLUMBIA TRISTAR

MOVIE INFO

Director:
Len Wiseman
Cast:
Kate Beckinsale, Scott Speedman, Michael Sheen, Shane Brolly, Bill Nighy, Erwin Leder, Sophia Myles, Robbie Gee, Wentworth Miller
Writing Credits:
Kevin Grevioux, Len Wiseman, Danny McBride

Tagline:
An immortal battle for supremacy.

Synopsis:
Selene (Beckinsale), a beautiful vampire warrior, is entrenched in a war between the vampire and werewolf races. Although she is aligned with the vampires, she falls in love with Michael (Speedman), a werewolf who longs for the war to end.

Box Office:
Budget
$23 million.
Opening Weekend
$21.753 million on 2915 screens.

MPAA:
Rated R

DVD DETAILS
Presentation:
Widescreen 2.35:1/16x9
Audio:
English Dolby Digital 5.1
English DTS 5.1
Subtitles:
English
Spanish
French
Closed-captioned

Runtime: 121 min.
Price: $26.96
Release Date: 10/26/2004

Bonus:
• None


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Underworld: Superbit (2003)

Reviewed by Colin Jacobson (October 26, 2004)

In what must be a record, this new Superbit edition of 2003’s Underworld represents the flick’s third DVD release in a span of less than 10 months. Since I reviewed both prior versions, I won’t bother with an extended discussion of the movie. Overall, I feel the story has potential but the end product doesn’t go much of anywhere. It’s a real triumph of style over substance that never congeals into a compelling action/horror tale.

For a detailed look at what I think of Underworld, check out my original review. There’s also an unrated, extended cut, but this Superbit disc represents the film’s theatrical rendition.


The DVD Grades: Picture A-/ Audio A- (DTS) B+ (DD)/ Bonus F

Underworld appears in an aspect ratio of approximately 2.35:1 on this single-sided, double-layered DVD; the image has been enhanced for 16X9 televisions. Across the board, Underworld presented a strong picture.

Sharpness seemed immaculate. I never noticed any signs of softness or fuzziness. Instead, the movie looked nicely crisp and detailed at all times. Jagged edges and moiré effects created no concerns, and only a smidgen of edge enhancement seemed apparent on rare occasions. I noticed no signs of print flaws, as the image looked clean.

Underworld presented such a flat palette that it virtually came across as a black and white film. Even shots of blood appeared quite muted, as the vast majority of the film came across in varying levels of blue and dark tones. Some mild reds appeared as well, but they didn’t show up with much frequency. Blues and blacks ruled the day, and all the tones looked accurately reproduced within their limitations. As for the dark elements, they were deep and dense. I thought blacks seemed nicely replicated and presented clear, taut textures. Low-light shots came across extremely well. They looked very well-defined and delineated and made the movie quite attractive. Despite its stylistic limitations, Underworld presented a fine transfer.

For this Superbit DVD, we got both Dolby Digital 5.1 and DTS 5.1 soundtracks. I thought they sounded pretty similar but gave the slight edge to the DTS mix. I’ll discuss the Dolby one first and then go over the differences I perceived.

Across the board, the soundfield seemed terrific. The movie presented a wide and broad spectrum that presented a strong feeling of environment. The mix utilized all five channels in a very active and involving way. Vampires and Lycans moved all around the soundscape cleanly and in a lively manner, and other violent elements popped up in various appropriate places. These meshed together well and created a vivid and enveloping sense of place.

For the most part, audio quality seemed good, with one exception: bass response. Ala The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring, this mix sounded way too hot. Every little sound came with an enormous boom. Gunshots displayed excessive bass, and the over-the-top low-end even affected small elements like the closing of car doors. Anything that theoretically could produce a thump displayed a loud rumble. Even the idling of a car engine sounded like the world was coming to an end. This became a distraction and caused me to lower my audio grade.

Otherwise, the audio sounded strong. Dialogue was natural and well-defined, and I noticed no issues connected to intelligibility or edginess. Music seemed smooth and vibrant, with clean highs and manageable low-end; the excessive bass didn’t appear to affect the score, happily. Effects were solid except for the low-end issues I already mentioned. They otherwise came across as clean and accurate and suffered from no signs of distortion or other problems. Without the bass issues, I’d have given the audio of Underworld an “A”; it offered a generally excellent mix. However, the low-end was so overwhelming that I knocked down my mark to a “B+” for the Dolby track.

When I compared the Dolby track to the DTS, I thought the latter seemed superior in one way: bass response. At times, the DTS edition still showed low-end that came across as excessive. However, it toned down it act to a moderate degree. For DVDs with both DTS and Dolby Digital mixes, usually the former sounds louder, but the reverse was true here. Parts of the DTS track’s bass response remained unnaturally loud, but it balanced those elements better and merited an “A-“ for its audio.

How did this Superbit release compare to the original version? Visually, I thought the two looked virtually identical. The Superbit might have tightened up matters slightly, but not to any substantial degree. The Dolby tracks on both sounded the same, so the Superbit disc gets the nod for its slightly superior DTS mix.

This means that for most Underworld fans, the original special edition version will remain the one to own. If you don’t care at all about extras, then go with the Superbit. It presents very strong visuals plus a DTS mix that mildly outdoes the old one’s Dolby track. Otherwise, the prior release’s combination of strong movie presentation and supplements make it the best package.

To rate this film, visit the original review of UNDERWORLD: SPECIAL EDITION