Underworld: Blood Wars 4K Ultra HD Blu-ray Review
Before we even get into UNDERWORLD: BLOOD WARS, can we agree that the Underworld franchise never really deserved to have five movies? The first one was fun and added the Romeo and Juliet twist to the vampire/werewolf genre, but the sequel went straight up action and every subsequent film got further away from what made the original worth watching. Part of the franchise’s problem was Scott Speedman’s Michael (or lack of), who they needed to balance out the robot-like Selene. But even with him, I can’t imagine the Underworld franchise continuing in any logical manner. The proof is with UNDERWORLD: BLOOD WARS, where the action and story all felt like something thrown together quickly to make a few bucks.
We catch up with Selene as she’s running from both the vampires and the werewolves. It seems both sides want her for her blood, or maybe they want her for her daughter’s blood; that’s never really clear. I say that because they talk about her daughter often, but as it turns out, her blood is just as good. Anyway, she agrees to go train some vampire soldiers in a very inexplicable sequence, only to be betrayed and forced to run again. Apparently, she didn’t hear every audience member screaming at her not to go. She retreats to a northern vampire coven, where she learns about an ancient vampire ritual that allows vampires to see the afterlife. Nope, it’s not explained or developed and it gets even more strange towards the end. Anyway, this leads to a big vampire-werewolf showdown where people start to forget Selene was ever around.
The vampire-werewolf war is how everything started and it has been a running theme throughout the Underworld films. It’s a simple idea and that basic idea alone creates enough fodder to make plenty of sequels. Blood Wars gets way lost in the obsession over blood. Somehow, consuming her blood makes other vampires super strong, immune to sunlight and gifted with the knowledge of how to fight. They reference her daughter (from UNDERWORLD: AWAKENING) many times, complete with flashbacks, but her importance is not really clear. I thought they were going to have her be the film’s McGuffin, but she wasn’t. The werewolves were more obsessed to find her than the vampires, but again, we don’t know why and, more importantly, we don’t care.
The action scenes in UNDERWORLD: BLOOD WARS were far lesser than in previous Underworld films. Putting Kate Beckinsale in tight leather pants and handing her two guns is really all you need to please fans of the series and they struggled to even get that right. Also, does anyone know what Selene can and can’t do? One minute she’s the greatest fighter in the world and the next she can’t punch her way out of a paper bag. Adjusting a character’s abilities to meet the plot is one of my biggest pet peeves and they do that several times throughout the film.
I wouldn’t say I was ever a huge fan of the Underworld franchise, but UNDERWORLD: BLOOD WARS feels like a departure for the already weak series. It’s clear to me that they’re out of ideas and are putting way too much stock in the name to bring people into the theater. But I don’t think we should shed any tears for a lost franchise, because the fact Underworld made it to five films is pretty incredible. But UNDERWORLD: BLOOD WARS is for the die-hard fans only.
4K ULTRA HD BLU-RAY REVIEW
Video: The Blu-ray of UNDERWORLD: BLOOD WARS had a hard time with the black levels. There’s a good chunk of the film that takes place with nothing but the moonlight for lighting and that made things hard to decipher on Blu-ray. But the 4K transfer looks infinitely better and the dark scenes look much better thanks to the HDR and added detail. When Selene makes her way to the northern coven, the vampires she encounters are wearing white, which really pop on 4K (as opposed to looking washed out on the Blu-ray). Overall, this is a very nice transfer and definitely worth the upgrade for fans of the series.
Audio: UNDERWORLD: BLOOD WARS takes full use of the included Dolby Atmos track. Since most of the movie involves running and/or fighting, your speakers will get a nice workout.
This title was reviewed using a Samsung UBD-K8500 with a Sony XBR75X850C TV.
The 4K UHD does not contain any exclusive features, but it does include a Blu-ray of the film, which includes the following special features:
The Evolution of Selene (8:09): This is a quick look at how Selene has changed over the five films and the things that have impacted her.
Old and New Blood (6:15): The filmmakers talk about how the newer characters help push the story along.
Evil Evolved (6:07): The cast and crew talk about how Selene’s opposition has changed over the course of the films. There are a lot of movie scenes for only being 6 minutes long, but we do get some behind the scenes footage.
Building a Blood War (12:03): Again, lots of movie scenes, but this one walks through making UNDERWORLD: BLOOD WARS.
The Official Movie Graphic Novel