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Tuesday, May 28, 2024

Underworld: Blood Wars (TheaterByte 4K Ultra HD Blu-ray Review)

Underworld: Blood Wars 4K Ultra HD + Blu-ray + Digital PackshotOh, Kate Beckinsale, there once was a time when, as a healthy young heterosexual male I was more than excited to watch you don your skintight S&M gear as Selene the death dealer and kick some werewolf hinds in the original Underworld. Now as a not quite as young hetero-male, seeing you in Underworld: Blood Wars barely gets a rise out of me. Believe me, it has nothing to do with you, Ms. Beckinsale, you are still a knock ‘em dead undead vampiress, it’s just that this entire franchise has become more undead than alive.

As I watch this elaborate goth dungeon sex party play out where all the vamps are clad in their black designer latex and leather and the lycans (AKA werewolves) in their hobo chic, I can’t feel anything over the story about your character Selene trying to keep her daughter and her powerful hybrid blood hidden away from the evil werewolves or vamps that might want to use it for bad things. Yawn. Oh, um, excuse me. What was that about another female vampire carrying on a secret affair with this Marius (Tobias Menzies), leader of the lycans? And why does your clan of vamps hate Selen so much again? Oh, yes that impossible to follow round up at the start of the movie told us about the four previous films.

I know you were surrounded by some really strong cast members in Blood Wars like Charles Dance (Game of Thrones), Lara Pulver (Da Vinci’s Demons) and Tobias Menzies (Outlander), but rather than make this one of the best films in the franchise (there hasn’t really been a very strong one since the original, honestly), they only make me ask, how did they all get suckered into this tired film? Can you please get back to films like Much Ado About Nothing or The Aviator and leave this franchise alone?

Thank you.

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The Video

Underworld: Blood Wars was shot on the Red Weapon Dragon at 6K resolution and a 4K DI was used for processing and color timing, so this 4K Ultra HD release is as pure as it gets in its HEVC 2160p encodement with HDR (HDR10) High Dynamic Range framed at 2.40:1. Unfortunately, the image, as has always been the case with Underworld, is really dark, but is seems exceptionally so this time around, so much that the black Gothic outfits of the vampires often dissolve into amorphous blobs – the HDR doesn’t help much there. It does help to bring out some of the visual effects nicely like torches and the sheen on swords and the brightness of the UV bullets. The darkness isn’t the worst of this transfer, however. There is some pretty awful and obvious color banding that can be spotted. Check out the dark night sky around the 47-minute mark in the scene with Selene and David. I know it’s not my display (LG OLED65E6P) or player (Oppo UDP-203), since the OLEDs don’t suffer from banding and changing bit depth on the output of the player from 12 to 10 doesn’t resolve it, so it must be inherent in the source. The original Underworld on Ultra HD looks far better, even with its purposely gritty look that some may take exception to.

The Audio

The English Dolby Atmos mix for Underworld is a solid one that is atmospheric, has low-end extension that really rocks the floorboards, and good use of the Atmos channels for discrete effects. There are a couple of moments during the action where some dialogue became a little hard to hear that was perhaps on purpose.

The Supplements

There isn’t much that is required viewing here. The on-disc graphic novel is a cool inclusion.

  • Standard Blu-ray with feature film and bonus features
  • Digital HD UltraViolet
  • The Evolution of Selene (1.78:1; 1080p/24; 00:08:09)
  • Old & New Blood (1.78:1; 1080p/24; 00:06:15)
  • The Evil Evolved (1.78:1; 1080p/24; 00:06:07)
  • Building a Blood War (1.78:1; 1080p/24; 00:12:03)
  • Underworld: Blood Wars Graphic Novel

The Final Assessment

Underworld: Blood Wars proves once and for all the franchise powered by the always and continuously lovely Kate Beckinsale, is just out gas and out of ideas. Some die-hard fans will love this entry, but for most it will be a painfully dull and confusing film to sit through.

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3.4 / 5 TheaterByte Rating
{{ reviewsOverall }} / 5 User Rating (0 votes)
R (for strong bloody violence, and some sexuality)Rating Certificate
Lakeshore Entertainment | Screen Gems | Sketch Films | Sony Pictures Home EntertainmentStudios & Distributors
Anna FoersterDirector
Cory Goodman (story & screenplay) | Kyle Ward (story) | Kevin Grevioux (characters) | Len Wiseman (characters) | Danny McBride (characters)Writer
91 Mins.Run Time
25 Apr. 2017Release Date
2.40:1Aspect Ratio
HEVC (H.265) 2160p (UHD) | AVC 1080p (BD)Video
English Dolby Atmos (Dolby TrueHD 7.1 Compatible) (Ultra HD Only)Audio
English | English SDH | FrenchSubtitles
English DTS-HD MA 5.1 (BD Only) | English Audio Descriptive Service | French DTS-HD MA 5.1Secondary Audio
The Creative Content
The Video
The Audio
The Supplements
The Underworld franchise still has strong visual effects and Kate Beckinsale can still rock her skintight S&M outfit, but the story in Underworld: Blood Wars is uninspired proving that the franchise is, for now, out of steam and at the end of the line. The 4K Ultra HD disc also looks disappointing given it is from a true 4K master.
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