Kate Beckinsale and Scott Speedman both add a degree of depth to their roles.
At the end of the day, I don't understand what the big deal is about these movies.
Underworld: Evolution continues to follow the battles between the Death Dealers and the Lycans. However, this movie does it's best to rise above being merely a special effects fest in how it broadens the relationship between the main characters Selene (Kate Beckinsale; a Death Dealer) and Michael (Scott Speedman; a Lycan). It also traces the history of these feuding groups and in the days we are dealing with right now between Israel and the rest of the Middle East, a movie like Underworld: Evolution seems to be making an interesting statement.
Filled with all sorts of effects, fight scenes and just about every other device we come to expect from these darkly toned films, Underworld: Evolution has a shade of richness that we don't often see from films of this nature.
This features director Len Wiseman, production designer Patrick Tatopoulos, second-unit director and stunt coordinator Brad Martin, and editor Nick De Toth. Maybe it's because I have done set visits where they had me interviewing the "stand-ins" for the actors, but I think they have let too many people be involved here. There just comes a point where we realize the people we don't usually hear from aren't heard from for a reason. All they really need is Len Wiseman as he seems to have such a strong vision for these films (having directed the first Underworld), as he talks about what went into making this movie, what he wanted to do with the sequel and his personal thoughts on the characters.
The Hybrid Theory
I am a fan of effects featurettes and to not have one on a DVD like Underworld: Evolution would have been wrong. This looks at how the effects are achieved, what the actors bring to the equation and how much preparation is necessary to pull these things off on screen. While not anything too amazing, this is something people will want to take a look at.
The War Rages On
Similar to the effects featurette, this stunts featurette again looks at the preparation and what goes into making these stunts work. In a film like this which employs actual humans and digital effects to pull these stunts off, it becomes clear that everybody involved (especially in these scenes) has to be on the same page.
Bloodlines: From Script to Screen
A pretty pedantic "making of" but fans of the film should get a kick out of hearing the actors talk about the characters, story and the backstory which informs the entire backdrop of this film. They have done a good job here of keeping things moving, while never making it seem like this piece was just thrown together. I also happen to think Len Wiseman is a pretty intelligent guy and that certainly comes to the surface in this featurette and this film.
Making Monsters Roar
Watching something like this makes me wish that I had taken an interest in masks and model creation earlier in my life. Personally, I think the creation of these beasts has got to be one of the most interesting processes. It is the idea that something can be created in a shop, and is then brought to a set and brought to life... that takes on a whole new level because you are almost breathing life into a living, breathing entity. Also, the care and precision with which these guys work, it is apparent that they don't see their work as just messing around with life-size, latex, action figures.
Building a Saga
This segment of the DVD looks at the production design of the film. Something I don't think people realize is how much this makes the film. It is here that the entire ambiance, look and feel of Underworld: Evolution resides. If that doesn't translate, if the people watching this movie don't buy it, than nothing else works. The production design of this film is so strong, it's almost overwhelming.
Music and Mayhem
Examining the music and sound design, this featurette makes every effort to show us that as important as we think what we see is, without the correct audio accompaniment all that fails. While I do and don't agree with that (how many films have made use of no sound and still put across powerful images?), I will say that the process of matching the right music moments to specific scenes proves to be a painstaking (though highly interesting) process.
This is for the song "Her Portrait in Black" by Atreyu. This band has gotten huge being on a small label and it seems, if they can continue their momentum, they will only get bigger. While I don't think that this song is one of their best, I must admit that I find it odd to remember when they came to my parent's house in Fountain Valley, because Director Darren Doane wanted to show them some music videos and he didn't want to drive any further than he already had to get to them.
Aspect Ratio - 2.40:1. This is the kind of DVD that could really help the HD-DVD/Blu-ray argument. This movie looks awesome. It is put together for the home theater enthusiast, and with more and more people putting those together in their homes, I think that a movie like Underworld: Evolution would make a great edition because it could really help max out what your system could achieve.
English (Dolby Digital 5.1) - French (Dolby Digital 5.1). As I mentioned above, this is a film that is perfect for home theater systems and that goes double for the audio experience. I started watching it on my cheap TV with one speaker and then I decided to use my parents surround sound system. I am glad that I did because even though things aren't configured that great, the audio really swept me up in the movie. In small room this effect is way more intense than in a movie theater, I found.
Kate Beckinsale's gothic enhanced face takes over the majority of this front cover. They have found a really nice image hybrid between black, blue and white (in fact, it looks like that throughout the whole film, actually). Underneath her are more iconic images from the movie. The back brings us up to date with a description, a Special Features listing, a cast list and some technical specs. Overall, the packaging isn't that amazing but something tells me this is a DVD Sony plans to release more than once.
Having sat in a press junket for Underworld: Evolution before it came out in theaters, I must admit that I was a bit surprised to hear Scott Speedman say how he was turning down a lot of roles because he didn't like the material. The first thought in my head was, "Well, it's a good thing your counteracting that by doing Underworld: Evolution." I am not trying to slag this film, which I think is actually pretty good, I just think when you say one thing and do another, and it's so blatant you really lose your room to complain.
On a different note, I think Kate Beckinsale is turning into one hell of a leading lady and Underworld: Evolution only bolsters that.
Underworld: Evolution was released January 12, 2006.