Underworld: Blood Wars UltraHD Blu-ray Review

Summary: In the next installment of the blockbuster franchise, Underworld: Blood Wars follows Vampire death dealer, Selene (Kate Beckinsale) as she fends off brutal attacks from both the Lycan clan and the Vampire faction that betrayed her. With her only allies, David (Theo James) and his father Thomas (Charles Dance), she must stop the eternal war between Lycans and Vampires, even if it means she has to make the Ultimate sacrifice.

UltraHD Specs
Studio: Sony
Title: Underworld: Blood Wars
Audio: Dolby Atmos
Negative Formats: Redcode RAW (6K)
Digital Intermediate: 4K
Peak Brightness: 4000 nits
MPAA Rating: R
Length: 91 Minutes
Director: Anna Foerster
Stars: Kate Beckinsale, Theo James, Charles Dance
Review Date: April 12, 2017
Price: $19.99

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Movie Review: Thankfully unlike some prior entries into the Underworld series, the movie opens with a short explainer about what happened before to get you caught up to speed. Unfortunately, it still doesn’t mean that the film is going to make a whole lot of sense. I won’t go into all the plot holes that seem to exist, but the movie spends most of its short running time trying to move a story along and very little time on anything else. You have little time to sit back and feel for Selene and her missing daughter, or for David and his feelings about his parents. Once the plot point is introduced, it is time to move onto the next plot point, perhaps with a quick battle thrown in.

At only 91 minutes, the movie moves along briskly but needs more time to sit back and develop. We have barely any time to gain any emotional attachment to a character if we haven’t seen the prior films in the series. The battle sequences themselves are less than fulfilling, aside from providing good use of all the soundtrack channels. Fans of the series will likely enjoy Blood Wars, but it is unlikely to win any converts.

Technical Review: Underworld: Blood Wars was shot in 6K and finished with a 4K digital intermediate. For most of the film, there is clearly lots of detail from the master format, with skin showing fine details along with wrinkles and creases. The film, like others in the Underworld series, is very dark but there is plenty of detail hiding out in those shadows.

What they didn’t seem to do with this film is take advantage of HDR at all. Some of the UV bullets are a bright, rich blue when they are fired, but candles, torches, and bright bits of sunlight do not pop off the screen. It is almost as if they decided not to use the expanded brightness range for the scenes that would really benefit from it. Expanded color gamut can possibly be seen in a couple of scenes, but with everyone dressed in black and the film taking place indoors at night, there isn’t as much opportunity to take advantage of it. The VFX look to be done at 2K resolution, or done quickly, as the UHD disc shows where they are lacking in detail compared to the live action elements.

The Dolby Atmos soundtrack does take advantage of the additional speaker you have in your home theater, with the sounds of the battle happening all around you. Once the film starts the action sequences never really stop, and the Atmos track puts you right into the middle of it. Low-end rumble is really present in scenes, causing my theater door and frames to rattle multiple times during the film, and the soundtrack overall leaves very little to be desired.

Special Features: Four featurettes and a Blu-ray version are included.

Review System: Vizio P65-C1 display, Oppo UDP-203 UltraHD Blu-ray Player, KEF Ci5160RL-THX Fronts, Ci3160RL-THX Center, 2x Ci200RR-THX Surrounds, 4x CI200RR-THX Atmos Speakers, Anthem MRX 1120 Receiver.

Review Summary
Title: Underworld: Blood Wars UltraHD Blu-ray
Reviewer:
Pros: Sharp, detailed image, impressive Atmos soundtrack.
Cons: Too reserved in use of HDR, dark overall look provides little opportunity to use wide color gamut.
Summary: This most recent entry in the Underworld series is the best looking one on UltraHD yet, with a true 6K source and 4K master. Fine details are all over, but the dark interior settings don't allow for much use of wider color gamut and high dynamic range is utilized barely if at all. The soundtrack is well done and fans of the series should be happy.
Video: 4/5
Audio: 4.5/5
Movie: 2.5/5

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