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Underworld

4K Ultra HD

Blu Ray

  • Score
    77
    from 2 reviewers
    Review Date:
  • Underworld's visual allure & prophetic edge, revitalized in stunning 4K, charms and challenges.

    Underworld 4K UHD Blu-ray Front Cover

    Disc Release Date:

  • Video
    82
  • Kino Lorber's 4K Blu-ray of Underworld impresses with its restoration, showcasing vivid neon colors and detailed scenes, despite some color balance discrepancies.

  • Audio
    87
  • This release features an English DTS-HD MA 2.0 audio track with clear dialog and optional English SDH subtitles, boasting a dynamic, clear, and rich synth-pop soundtrack by Freur, alongside 1980s-style sound effects and engaging action sequences.

  • Extra
    82
  • Kino Cult enriches 'Underworld' with insightful commentaries, an alternate cut, behind-the-scenes, and galleries, revealing the film's making and Clive Barker's influence.

  • Movie
    72
  • Underworld's 4K Blu-ray release by Kino Lorber, enriched with special features, revives the 1985 cult classic's blend of genre film magic and 1980s nostalgia.

    Video: 82

    Kino Lorber's presentation of "Underworld" on 4K UHD Blu-rays has given fans and new viewers alike a compelling reason to re-experience or dive into the film with renewed vigor. This release features a Region-Free 4K Blu-ray and a Region-A locked standard Blu-ray, catering to a wider audience despite the regional limitation on the latter. The main allure centers around the film’s latest renovation, derived from scanning the original camera negatives in 4K, offering viewers a native 4K display enhanced with Dolby Vision and HDR grades. While the addition of these modern grading techniques shines a light on the filmmaker’s ambitious use of neon-infused lighting schemes and atmospheric conditions, it’s fascinating to note a slight preference among some viewers for the 1080p version. This preference hinges on the argument that the 1080p presentation more authentically captures the film’s original color balance and temperature, echoing the visual aesthetic of 1980s cinema with its lush and occasionally garish colors.

    The 4K rendition, aside from its resolution upgrade, brings forth an undeniable improvement in texture details, facial features, and maintains a healthy grain structure that evokes a truly cinematic feel without succumbing to digital noise reduction pitfalls. This showcases especially well in the film's darker sequences and richly colored lighting schemes, where blues and blood reds are given new life without overwhelming the scene. Deeper and more nuanced black levels add to the immersive experience, creating a striking depth that makes every shadow and silhouette more pronounced. However, despite these enhancements, some argue that select dark sequences reveal more detailed background information in 1080p, suggesting that the highest fidelity doesn't always translate to the most faithful representation of a film’s intended appearance.

    As we thread through these insights, it becomes evident that Kino Lorber’s release of "Underworld" in 4K stands as a significant achievement, not just for its technical merits but also for catalyzing a reassessment of visual fidelity in relation to cinematic intent. The preservation of filmic integrity alongside technological advancements presents a nuanced battleground where preferences for vibrancy and authenticity occasionally diverge. Nevertheless, this release has undoubtedly set a high bar, delivering an exceptional visual feast that prompts both admiration and introspection regarding the evolution of home cinema presentation.

    Audio: 87

    The audio presentation of the "Underworld" 4K UHD Blu-ray offers a solid auditory experience despite its seemingly modest English DTS-HD Master Audio 2.0 setup. Accompanying the primary audio, optional English SDH subtitles ensure accessibility for a broader audience. The soundtrack, primarily composed by Freur, showcases a remarkable symphony of synth-pop reminiscent of Tangerine Dream’s iconic sounds, suggesting that viewers should not shy away from maximizing their volume to fully appreciate the deep, dynamic range presented. The film, despite its constrained budget, manages to deliver dialogue with crystal clarity and stability, free from any distortions, pops, or audio dropouts, attesting to a meticulously crafted sound production.

    In keeping with the singular auditory option of a DTS-HD MA 2.0 track across both the 4K and standard Blu-ray releases, the audio quality consistently exceeds expectations. The dialogue remains crisp and clean, understandable across various scenes unless intentionally altered for character portrayal. Sound effects hark back to the exaggerated intensity familiar to 1980s cinema, providing a nostalgic charm that complements the film’s score and musical cues to round out an immersive soundscape.

    Notably, the film oscillates between quieter, dialogue-driven segments and more intense action scenes, featuring subterranean mutants and heightened activity. During these moments, the audio track becomes particularly vibrant and engaging, demonstrating a well-balanced mix that ensures listeners remain captivated. Overall, the audio aspect of the "Underworld" 4K UHD Blu-ray enhances the viewing experience by delivering both nuanced subtleties and dynamic vigor, making it a commendable effort in sound design that effectively supports both the narrative and atmospheric ambitions of the film.

    Extra: 82

    The extras presented on the 4K UHD Blu-ray of "Underworld" provide a rich trove of material for fans and newcomers alike, keenly balancing archival content and new insights. The exclusive commentary by director George Pavlou and author/critic Stephen Thrower delves deep into the movie's genesis, collaboration with Clive Barker, and the assembly of its impressive cast, offering a comprehensive insight into the film’s production and thematic complexities. The inclusion of "Transmutations," an alternate cut, adds substantial value, presenting an intriguing variation even if it's somewhat marred by pacing issues and shifts in aspect ratio. Additionally, the archival behind-the-scenes footage, along with galleries of artwork, make-up tests, and Barker's designs, provide a fascinating glimpse into the creative process behind this cult classic. The thoughtful selection and presentation of these extras enhance one’s appreciation of "Underworld" by illuminating its ambitious aesthetic and narrative choices.

    Extras included in this disc:

    • Audio Commentary: Exclusive new commentary by director George Pavlou and critic Stephen Thrower.
    • Transmutations Alternate Cut: An alternate version of "Underworld" with differences in pacing and additional scenes.
    • Archival Behind the Scenes Footage: A compilation of interviews and raw shooting footage, offering insight into the film's production.
    • Artwork and Stills: A collection of promotional materials for the film.
    • Make Up Tests and Clive Barker Designs: Vintage stills showcasing the make-up tests and Barker’s original designs.
    • Reversible Cover: Features vintage poster art for "Underworld".

    Movie: 72

    George Pavlou's directorial debut, "Underworld" (1985), re-emerges in a stunning 4K UHD Blu-ray presentation by Kino Lorber, affirming its position as a visually arresting piece that has aged rather intriguingly within the realms of 1980s cinema. This release, a curious blend of British neo-noir and horror, casts a retrospective lens on Pavlou's creative ambition, leveraging Clive Barker's fertile imagination to explore the murky depths of urban underbellies and human mutation. Despite its somewhat disjointed narrative and pacing, the film's remarkable cinematography and bold visual style establish a lasting impression, making it a peculiar yet fascinating watch for aficionados of genre film, especially those with an inclination towards the visual flair characteristic of the era.

    The movie navigates through a gritty tale starring Larry Lamb as Bain, traversing a perilous path to rescue his former lover from the clutches of a nefarious underworld defined by grotesque mutations and moral corruption. The film's aesthetic, punctuated by Syd Macartney's compelling cinematography, crafts an atmospheric experience reminiscent of a music video, replete with shadowy figures and neon-soaked locales that evoke a distinct sense of the 1980s cinematic landscape. This visual opulence compensates for the film's slower moments and narrative weaknesses, presenting "Underworld" as a compelling study in style over substance.

    Character performances, led by Denholm Elliot's portrayal of Dr. Savary and supported by Steven Berkoff's Motherskille, contribute gravitas to the film, albeit within the constraints of its fantastical premise. The makeup effects and creative visuals further entrench "Underworld" as a commendable effort in genre filmmaking, despite its evident shortcomings in storytelling coherence. Viewing "Underworld" on this 4K UHD format not only offers a pristine visual experience but also invites appreciation for its place in the evolution of horror cinema — a flawed yet visually mesmerizing endeavor that showcases both the limits and potential of early Barker adaptations and Pavlou's directorial gaze.

    Total: 77

    The 4K UHD Blu-ray release of "Underworld" represents a significant visual and audio upgrade to a film that, despite its varying reception over the years, has maintained a curious appeal among its niche audience. The film, notable for its mixture of gothic aesthetics and a foreboding narrative that now eerily mirrors contemporary societal fears, benefits immensely from the latest 4K restoration. Drawing directly from the original camera negatives scanned in 4K, the picture quality brings a new depth to the movie’s dark, stylish visuals, complementing its thematic richness. This enhancement allows viewers to fully appreciate the meticulous makeup effects, atmospheric cinematography, and Freur's compelling synth-pop soundtrack, which echoes the eerie yet engaging score akin to Tangerine Dream’s notable compositions.

    Despite some criticism regarding its pacing and overall impact on Clive Barker's cinematic legacy, "Underworld" finds renewed vigor through this release. The 4K Dolby Vision transfer impresses, far exceeding expectations for a film of its caliber and age, creating a viewing experience that is both immersive and visually striking. This clarity, combined with spot-on audio quality and valuable extras such as commentary tracks and an alternate cut, offers both fans and newcomers alike a comprehensive package that enriches the film’s appeal. It's worth noting that while the film may cater more towards dedicated fans of Barker's work, the quality of this release presents a compelling reason for a wider audience to engage with the film, possibly discovering hidden depths within its narrative and presentation that were previously obscured.

    In conclusion, the 4K UHD Blu-ray release of "Underworld" stands as a testament to the enduring appeal and potential of the film within Barker's oeuvre. This edition not only elevates the visual and auditory experience but also reaffirms the movie's unique place in horror cinema as a work worth revisiting. Its combination of a visually arresting restoration, enhanced audio, and insightful extras make it an essential addition for collectors and a compelling discovery for new audiences. The release strikes an admirable balance between honoring the film’s original vision and embracing modern restoration techniques, solidifying its status as a highly recommended purchase for both aficionados and novices of the genre.