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Underworld (UE)
DVD disk
01.30.2006 By: Matt Hosack
Underworld (UE) order
Director:
Len Wiseman

Actors:
Kate Beckinsale
Scott Speedman
Michael Sheen

Rating:
Movie:
Extras:
Overall:

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WHAT'S IT ABOUT?
It’s vampires vs. werewolves with the humans in-between. Beckinsale plays Selene, a leather-clad deathdealer hottie who falls for a human, Michael played by Speedman (who incidentally reminds me of Scott Stapp). Creatures are killed, guns are fired, and betrayals are carried out. UNDERWORLD is primarily about that delicate balance of action vs. exposition.
IS IT A GOOD MOVIE?
Movies of this type often suffer from a healthy dose of cheese and trying to be too cool for its own good. While I find that UNDERWORLD suffers from both of these, it remains a relatively decent success. The problem most critics (that’s you) have and I share my position with this is that the movie seems more of a rip-off of other films, especially THE MATRIX. Everything from the action and set designs to THE MATRIX jingle is used. I will say that there were times where the movie DID start to break out on its own and do something new and the result is we have a fun sequel out in theaters. The story is overtly complex for this type of film and is both a high point or downfall for the film depending on your view.

The action sequences are crazy and chaotic but still fall in to something that’s been done before. Another thing that I think hampers the film is that it all takes place at night and it rains 100% of the time. Seriously, it gets old real fast! Ultimately, a palpable cast and some great creature effects made this flick a decent distraction. It certainly is not the best, nor is it original. I could name off a handful of better films in the genre, but if you’ve seen them, there’s not much left. As far as this “unrated extended” cut, there really isn’t much MORE here to sink your teeth in to.
THE EXTRAS
This is the fourth edition of UNDERWORLD! I really didn’t think the movie was that good to warrant four editions! Somebody’s gettin’ greedy here because really the only thing new here is the inserts and bonus disc. The special features are spread out over two discs. This 2-disc set comes in a kick ass slip case and hold a 48-page comic book and 16-page sketch booklet. The comic book is pretty muddled but not bad. The inclusion of the sketch book seems to make this whole set seem pretty fishy.

Disc 1:

Commentary with Director Len Wiseman and Actors Kate Beckinsale and Scott Speedman: What starts off looking to be a lot of fun almost immediately falls prey to the commentary snooze. Wiseman and co. just chuckle throughout the whole thing, only once in a while providing mundane facts. Not worth your time.

Outtakes: Finally! Some outtakes that are funny. Hearing Kate Beckinsale scream out “there could be dozens of dikens out there!” is pretty damn hilarious.

Featurette – Fang Vs Fiction: This is incredibly under-the-table and cheesy but is totally entertaining. This documentary theorizes that vamps and wolves are real. Complete with interviews, clips, and “history” its not a bad way to kill some time.

Rounding things out on the first disc, there are some Previews and 2 TV Spots.

Disc 2:

The Making of Underworld >>13min | This EPK covers just surface material such as a simple story explanation and story idea. Not that interesting.

The Visual Effects of Underworld >>10 min | A bit more interesting, you get a simple look at greenscreen work, trampolines, CG, and practical work. Nothing you haven’t probable seen and nothing wholly revealing either.

Creature Effects >> 13 min | This covers the Lycan effects showing off the process of molding. Again nothing new here.

Stunts >> 12 min | This segment shows off what else – the cool stunts of the film. Lots of wirework scenes but again bite sized.

Designing Underworld >> 10 min | I’ll give the film this, it had some bitchin’ sets – even if they were copies. Venturing on a cross between DARK CITY and THE MATRIX. From the sets to the making of the UV bullets, you’ll get an idea at best what went into the film.

The Look of Underworld >> 19 min | Mr. Wiseman loves comics and he designed the look to rival a graphic novel. Wiseman drew lots of story boards and pieces, which you get to see and they are pretty schwag. It was the dude’s first film so I gotta give him props.

Sights and Sounds >> 9 min | This is kind of just a itemized roll or wrap up of the production. Not that interesting.

Storyboard Comparisons: Another standardized type feature which is fun for a moment but not for six minutes.

Music Video by Finch “Worms of the Earth”: I think one word will cover this – Standard.

Bonus Disc: The bonus disc contains sneak peeks at both UNDERWORLD: EVOLUTION and the UNDERWORLD comic book. I was quite surprise at how much of the new film is showed off and viewers will get in on what the new film is all about. Heck, you even get to read a few pages of the comic book.
FINAL DIAGNOSIS
All told, this DVD set is rather well stocked. Here’s the deal though. If you already own the film, just keep what you have. The quote un-quote bonus features present are pretty superfluous and don’t really warrant the purchase. If it’s a question of wanting to pick up UNDERWORLD, I would suggest picking up the Superbit version. This fourth release just doesn’t contain enough valid new stuff to suggest anything.

>>Final Decision: RENT or BUY the Superbit
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