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Underworld: Blood Wars

4K Ultra HD

Blu Ray

  • Score
    75
    from 5 reviewers
    Review Date:
  • Underworld: Blood Wars disappoints yet shines in 4K A/V quality.

    Underworld: Blood Wars 4K UHD Blu-ray Front Cover

    Disc Release Date:

  • Video
    83
  • Underworld: Blood Wars' UHD Blu-ray presentation enhances detail and textures with nuanced improvements in color and HDR, despite its intentionally dark and monochromatic aesthetic.

  • Audio
    90
  • The Dolby Atmos track on the UHD enhances the immersive experience with wide separation, dynamic effects, and deep bass, outperforming the DTS-HD MA 5.1 on Blu-ray.

  • Extra
    70
  • Underworld: Blood Wars extras explore character evolution, behind-the-scenes insights, and the film's production, reflecting a blend of fan service and detailed craftsmanship.

  • Movie
    62
  • Underworld: Blood Wars recycles tired plots in a stale franchise, offering little novelty or development, and struggles to justify its existence.

    Video: 83

    Underworld: Blood Wars" makes its mark on the 4K UHD Blu-ray format with a presentation that showcases the strengths of high-definition optical media, particularly through its true 4K (2160p) resolution delivered via an HEVC/H.265 encoding, which is impressively faithful to the film’s original digital capture using Red Weapon Dragon cameras capable of 6K resolution. This disc retains the movie’s native aspect ratio of 2.40:1 and supplements its video quality with 10-bit depth, a wide color gamut (WCG), and high dynamic range (HDR) support that offer a palpable improvement over its Blu-ray counterpart, especially when viewed on equipment sensitive to these enhancements, like a Panasonic 65DX902B Ultra HD 4K TV paired with a Samsung UBD-K8500 Ultra HD Blu-ray player.

    The stygian aesthetic of "Underworld: Blood Wars," characterized by its somber palette primarily composed of dark hues, benefits significantly from HDR, improving depth in shadows and highlighting minute details that were previously lost in darker scenes. This enhancement brings to life the gothic castles, intricate costume designs, and the characteristic blue glowing eyes with a newfound clarity and depth not seen on the Blu-ray version. However, it is worth noting that while sharpness and detail see a notable upgrade — with textures in clothing, environmental backdrops, and facial features becoming more discernible — the film's inherently dark color grading translates to a presentation where the advantages of WCG are less immediately evident but nonetheless contribute to a more nuanced color representation, particularly in scenes featuring intense whites and blues.

    Despite these improvements, certain limitations persist, such as minor issues with banding in scenes with stark light contrasts and a tendency towards slightly paler black levels that might detract from the film’s visual depth in some instances. Moreover, while the UHD version offers enhanced detail and texture fidelity across a range of scenes, from the elaborate gothic scenery to the more intimate character close-ups, this comes at the compromise of dimming some of the finer details in the darkest parts of the frame due to the movie's heavy reliance on shadowy environments. Nevertheless, specular highlights are noticeably improved, granting a more realistic sheen to various elements like Selene’s latex outfit and other reflective surfaces, thereby providing a measured but definitive step up from the standard Blu-ray presentation.

    Audio: 90

    The audio presentation of "Underworld: Blood Wars" on its 4K UHD Blu-ray edition is a formidable showcase of the Dolby Atmos format, offering a significant enhancement over its Full HD counterpart's DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 track. The Dolby Atmos track provides an immersive experience with its active use of audio objects that range from atmospheric sounds, discrete effects, and music, delivering a tangible level of immersion that nicely complements the onscreen action. Notably, the mix generates a noticeable improvement in dimension and depth of field, especially during the first act and the film’s action sequences, by conveying the expanse of both interiors and exterior venues with an enveloping ambience and precisely placed effects. This is further complemented by demo-worthy sequences such as thunder in the distance and echoes of Lycan growls, ensuring a highly satisfying 360° soundfield. The score bleeds into the front heights, creating a half-dome wall of sound that enhances many scenes, particularly those with environmental elements like rain.

    The Dolby Atmos track shines in its detailed reproduction and wider sound envelope, featuring thunderous bass and continuous LF effects ranging from gunshot to footsteps, thereby adding a deep presence to the score without becoming overwhelming. The heightened sense of space and movement is evident through the increased activity, depth, and movement in action sequences. Dialogue remains prioritized and natural throughout, firmly centered but complemented by off-screen conversations that add to the impressive sense of space. The overhead channels are not just for show but contribute significantly to the immersive experience with subtler ambient effects moving into the front heights, thereby enriching the soundscape.

    Moreover, this audio mix demonstrates an extensive mid-range that is both dynamic and crisp during chaotic moments, supported by a robust low-end that gives each sound effect – from gunshots to Lycan stomps – a potent feel. The rear channels are actively utilized, filled with a diverse array of sounds that keep the listener enveloped in the action. From ambient moments to intense battles, every direction of the onscreen action is faithfully reproduced around you, making for an engaging and spacious presence throughout the movie. With some moments reaching ultra-low depths, the soundtrack not only provides clarity and audible intensity but also delivers a monstrous improvement over the aforementioned 5.1 track.

    Extra: 70

    The 4K UHD and Blu-ray release of "Underworld: Blood Wars" features an array of extras that provide a comprehensive look at the making of the film and its place within the franchise. On the 4K UHD disk, viewers can enjoy four visually stunning 'Moments' highlight reels focusing on key characters Selene, Semira, Lycans, and David, in addition to production photos. The bulk of the supplemental materials, however, reside on the accompanying Full HD Blu-ray. These include several featurettes such as "The Evolution of Selene," which explores the development of the lead character across the series, and "Building a Blood War," offering in-depth coverage on the film's production including direction, visual effects, design, and costumes, aiming to tie back to the original's Gothic feel while establishing its own identity. Other extras delve into new and returning characters, the antagonists' complexities, and an animated graphic novel version of the film, enhancing the understanding and appreciation for fans and newcomers alike.

    Extras included in this disc:

    • Moments: Reels for Selene, Semira, Lycans, and David highlighting key movie segments.
    • Cast and Crew: A collection of production photos.
    • The Evolution of Selene: Insight into the protagonist's journey throughout the franchise.
    • Old & New Blood: Discussion on both returning characters and newcomers.
    • The Evil Evolved: Exploration of the film's antagonists.
    • Building a Blood War: Comprehensive behind-the-scenes featurette covering various production aspects.
    • Underworld: Blood Wars Graphic Novel: An animated rendering of the movie in graphic novel form.
    • Previews: Sneak peeks at additional Sony titles.

    Movie: 62

    Underworld: Blood Wars," the fifth installment in the long-running franchise, struggles to justify its existence amidst a landscape of recycled plots and familiar conflicts between vampires and lycans. Despite inheriting the directorial mantle, Anna Foerster maintains the series' signature aesthetics—leather-clad vampires, gritty lycans, and visually captivating, albeit overused, action sequences—all while failing to infuse novelty or depth into the storyline. The narrative meanders through the motions of internal power struggles, forbidden interspecies relationships, and the perpetual war for supremacy, culminating in an experience that feels both redundant and uninspired.

    Character development is painfully absent, with the film relying heavily on the nostalgia of its predecessors rather than offering meaningful progression or emotional engagement. Selene (Kate Beckinsale), once a rich character, is now reduced to a mere pawn in an endless cycle of betrayal and revenge, her journey feeling increasingly hollow with each sequel. The introduction of the Nordic Coven, despite providing a fleeting visual departure from the series' monochrome palette, does little to revitalize the plot or expand the universe in any significant way. Instead, the movie trudges through a familiar dystopia, weighted down by predictable plot twists and a lack of innovation.

    "Underworld: Blood Wars" ultimately serves as a testament to the franchise's diminishing returns. It recycles plot elements without offering fresh intrigue or complexity, catering exclusively to die-hard fans rather than broadening its appeal. The absence of compelling character arcs or a coherent narrative renders the fifth chapter forgettable—a mere shadow of its former glory. The film’s heavy reliance on aesthetics and action cannot mask its fundamental deficiencies: a convoluted storyline and a palpable sense of franchise fatigue.

    Total: 75

    Underworld: Blood Wars," the fifth installment in the Underworld franchise, promises more of the same themes and aesthetics that fans have come to expect, albeit without injecting fresh life into its longstanding vampire versus werewolf narrative. The film’s narrative, centered around a new Lycan leader's quest to destroy vampires and capture Selene for her daughter’s blood, coupled with political machinations within the Eastern Coven, fails to captivate. The introduction of a Nordic Coven does little to rejuvenate the series’ now-typical visual and thematic style. The lack of character development leads to a disconnect, rendering the plot’s twists and battles inconsequential to the viewer. This results in a cinematic experience that may leave audiences disengaged, veering dangerously close to direct-to-video quality despite its attempt to cater to the franchise's dedicated fanbase.

    From a technical standpoint, the 4K UHD Blu-ray release by Sony offers a mixed bag. The visual presentation benefits from a 4K DI source, boasting stunning detail and effectively utilizing HDR to enhance its predominantly dark imagery, though improvements over the Blu-ray version are modest at best. Where the release truly shines is in its audio quality; the Dolby Atmos track delivers an immersive auditory experience with substantial bass and well-directed effects, elevating the presentation significantly. However, the supplementary material is notably scant, lacking in substance and failing to add value for fans or newcomers seeking deeper insights into the film’s production or lore.

    In conclusion, while "Underworld: Blood Wars" extends the franchise without substantially evolving it, its 4K UHD release showcases technical prowess in audio quality that may appeal to audiophiles and dedicated fans. The film itself struggles to reinvigorate interest or offer novel elements, potentially alienating new viewers with its convoluted story and predictable action sequences. Despite its technical merits, the overall package serves more as a testament to the franchise's diminishing returns than a revival of its former glory.