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UNDERWORLD: AWAKENING ($36) is the latest offering in the highly popular, action-packed, vampire versus werewolves saga, which has now reached its fourth installment. Unlike the previous film, UNDERWORLD: RISE OF THE LYCANS, which offered an origin story for the Lycan species and a history of how the Vampire/Lycan war initially began, UNDERWORLD: AWAKENING returns to the present and offers a continuation of the saga, began in the first two installments. UNDERWORLD: AWAKENING finds vampire warrior Selene (Kate Beckinsale) in the crosshairs, yet again, when a new war breaks out- with both Vampires and Lycans facing assaults from a new enemy- namely mankind, who has recently become aware of their divergent species.

During "The Purge" to exterminate all Vampires and Lycans, Selene is designated a priority target and captured and placed into cryogenic suspension. Emerging a dozen years later from a cryo-tube labeled "Subject 1," Selene awakens to a world in which ninety-five percent of her species has been eradicated. It seems that an unknown "Subject 2" has released Selene from her imprisonment at the Antigen Corporation medical laboratory, which is seeking an antidote for the virus that created Vampires and Lycans. We soon discover that "Subject 2" is a girl named Eve (India Eisley), who is the hybrid daughter of Selene and her mate Michael, created in the laboratory by Antigen Corporation as a lab rat for their experiments. Unfortunately for Selene and Eve, Antigen Corporation is under the Lycan control, with their chief scientist Dr. Jacob Lane (Stephen Rea) using the supposed research for a virus antidote as a front for his experiments towards the betterment of his own kind. The cast UNDERWORLD: AWAKENING of also features Theo James, Kris Holden-Ried, Charles Dance, Sandrine Holt, Catlin Adams and Adam Greydon Reid.

Sony Pictures Home Entertainment has made UNDERWORLD: AWAKENING available on Blu-ray Disc in a 2.35:1 aspect ratio presentation that has been encoded onto the disc with the AVC codec. UNDERWORLD: AWAKENING comes with top of the line 1080p presentation. Shot digitally with Red Epic cameras, the image is incredibly crisp, highly detailed and very dimensional. Even with the inherent darkness of a film featuring nocturnal creatures such as vampire and werewolves, the image continually pops and always impresses. There is a very slick quality to the film’s cinematography and production design, which favors good lighting and wet surfaces to reflect lighting during nighttime, outdoor locations. Colors are beautifully rendered, nicely saturated and completely stable, while maintaining the cooler stylized palette that we have come to expect from all of the UNDERWORLD films. Daylight sequences demonstrate more natural colors and balanced saturation. Blacks are inky and the whites appear crisp. Contrast is very good, although it does favor a slight push in places. Shadow details are purposely limited in places, but otherwise just fine. Being an all-digital production, there is no actual film grain, but there is a very tiny bit of noise in the image.

UNDERWORLD: AWAKENING is presented on Blu-ray Disc with a 7.1 channel DTS-HD Master Audio soundtrack. No question here, this is a demo quality soundtrack that maximizes all the best qualities of a horror/action movie sound design. Everything remains aggressively mixed throughout the film’s numerous shoot ‘em up and supernaturally flavored action sequences. All of the discrete channels engaging fully for sound effects placement, plus effects, such as weapons fire, zip and explode through the sound field effortlessly. Creature sounds are also well placed and move fluidly from channel to channel. Thanks to the lossless encode, fidelity is excellent, with both the music and effects being presented with stunning clarity. The bass channel adds a ground shaking and percussive qualities to effects. Voices are cleanly reproduced and the film’s dialogue is always completely understandable. A French 5.1 DTS-HD Master Audio soundtrack is also encoded onto the disc, as is an English Descriptive track. Subtitles are available in English, French and Spanish.

Full motion video, animation and sound serve to enhance the disc's interactive menus. Through the menus, one has access to standard scene selection and set up features, as well as the supplements. Starting things off is a running Audio Commentary with producers Richard Wright and Gary Lucchesi, directors Måns Mårlind and Björn Stein, and executive producer and visual effects supervisor James McQuaide. Next up is Cracking The Underworld, a picture-in-picture experience that features ancillary programs (requires a Profile 1.1 player). Featurettes and other programs include the following: Selene Rises (twelve minutes), Casting The Future Of Underworld (thirteen minutes), Resuming The Action (nine minutes), Building A Better Lycan (ten minutes) and Awakening A Franchise, Building A Better World (nineteen minutes). A Music Video for Heavy Prey by Lacey Sturm Featuring Geno Lenardo is also provided, as is a Blooper Reel and Bonus Trailers.

As with the other films in the series UNDERWORLD: AWAKENING delivers mindless horror/action movie for its popcorn munching fans. The Blu-ray presentation cannot be faulted on either the video or audio portions. Definitely recommended to the acolytes of the franchise.


Underworld: Awakening [Blu-ray] (2011)


DVD & Blu-ray Disc reviews are Copyright © 2012 THE CINEMA LASER and may not be copied or reprinted without the written consent of the publisher.
THE CINEMA LASER is written, edited and published by Derek M. Germano.



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