The disc presents a, slightly wider than the theatrical run, widescreen 2.40:1 1080p transfer using the AVC MPEG-4 codec. At first glance this is a stunning picture, but look closer and it reveals a few shortfalls. First up the film was shot in High Definition and has been heavily post processed to give rise to the 'Underworld' look, and, unfortunately, in some cases, it looks like it. The blues can take on a misty grey colouring for example, and the artificial grain along with a little inherent softness can conspire to rob the some of the textures, particularly noticeable on skin detail, Sonya especially. However, this is rare, because on the whole this is a terrific picture with plenty of detail, right from the lycan's hair to the chicks in the vampires armour, form the carvings on the council chamber walls to the bark of the forest trees, each holding definite, crisp edges.
Colouring is highly stylised, this gives rise to very strong blues and a very dark picture with no hint of posterization or banding. Skin colour is necessarily pale and the red of the blood is suitable dark.
Brightness is set to give some velvet smooth blacks that really pull you into the frame with their depth. Shadow detail is not left out either, take a look in the cells to see all the nasties going on in the corners for example. Contrast, along with the colours, is stylised so at times is a little hot, but there is never any blooming or detail lost.
Digitally there are no compression problems nor is there any edge enhancement. In all an excellent picture, missing out on reference due to the aforementioned rare problems.
The discs comes with four sound tracks; English and French Dolby TrueHD 5.1, Spanish and Portuguese Dolby Digital 5.1, I concentrate on the first.
Let me just say that your sub will be a very happy bunny indeed with this disc! The bass is stupendous, low enough to rock the foundations of the house, deep enough to bring the roof tiles down but tight enough to keep everything crisp and clean. Listen to the growling of the lycans, and their, and indeed the horses, foot falls as they gallop and storm the castle. The thump of crossbow/ harpoon bolt piercing wall and flesh is given plenty of, ahem, meat. The rumbles of thunder sound so real to have you looking out of the window.
As for the rest of the track, it contains plenty of surround effects, from howls, to sword/claw clashes to rain and wind. And when ambient effects aren't filling the surrounds then the score is in what is a terrifically immersive track.
Unfortunately the dialogue is a tad on the quiet side, particularly in the quieter moments compared to the mayhem that is more often than not happening on screen; when turned up to reference, or close too, the dialogue does spring to life. Now, I didn't need to adjust my volume settings neither did I strain to hear anything being said, but it should be noted that the mix isn't quite perfect, which is a shame because the thunderous bass is just a joy.
- Filmmakers' Commentary
Producer/co-writer Len Wiseman, director Patrick Tatopoulos, producer Richard Wright, producer Gary Lucchesi and executive producer/ visual effects supervisor James McQuaide sit and discuss the film in a jovial and interesting fashion giving rise to plenty of information well delivered. It helps that all this lot have worked on all the films, thus their knowledge is unparalleled for this universe and they are not afraid to talk about mistakes made or where it went wrong because they are rightly proud. The discussion never wavers and although it meanders occasionally is always relevant, and with so many and so much to contribute, it's never a dull listen.
- From Script to Screen - 0:09:18 HD
A typical short featurette that has more clips than actual content. The talking heads do get to discuss how quickly the script came together due to the writers strike, why New Zealand was the chosen destination for shooting (cost) and how frugal the film makers had to be due to the budget.
- The Origin of the Feud - 0:19:58 HD
A slightly longer featurette, but nevertheless utilising the same amount of film footage and discussing the largely redundant, once you've seen the first film, let alone this one, plot point of how the lycans came to fight the vampires. Even the character discussions later can't save this one.
- Recreating the Dark Ages - 0:16:01 HD
Largely concerned with production design, creature designs, CGI and colouring that denotes the look of the film, just scrapes by as the best of these bunch of featurettes, still contains yards of film footage though.
- Music Video: Deathclub (Wes Borland/Renholder Remix) - 0:03:51
Was probably on MTV at some stage used to promote the film. Great if you like this kind of thing, avoid if not.
Trailers for other Blu-rays from Sony.
- Behind the Castle Walls: Picture-In-Picture
A small PiP video window in the bottom right hand corner of the screen details some serious amount of behind the scenes footage along with interviews form cast and crew. Actually pretty good this, it is never off the screen and there is plenty going on. Does remove the pop up menu, but you can chapter skip should you wish to do so.
- Lycanthropes Around the World Interactive Map
A completely useless map of the world, in which you can zoom into one of three continents and then read about supposed sightings. Fun maybe once? But not for me.
As yet nothing worth logging on for
- Digital Copy
A second disc to load on to your portable video player of choice
A largely forgettable bunch of extras here, except for the PiP section and the filmmakers' commentary which are well worth investing in, nice that everything is in 1080 though.
Underworld: Rise of the Lycans is nowhere near as bad as some would have you believe. It's rubbish but proud to be so. It's biggest problem is the terrific sense of déjà vu you have whilst watching it, but if you can overcome that and just watch it for the dumb fun it is then you will get some enjoyment out of it. Everyone gives it their all, and it shows, with vampires and werewolves getting the chance to chew each other to pieces, plot holes and inconsistencies be damned!
The disc itself has a excellent picture and sound, the extras are not spectacular but at least the picture in picture track has some merit. It never had the potential to be the best of the three, despite the packaging claims, but it certainly doesn't deserve to be ignored.
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