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DVD Review: Underworld Evolution

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Underworld was a pure action movie. With the rules set up by the first film, including a brief history and the changes to typical vampire/werewolf lore, Underworld Evolution can settle into summer movie mode. Never does the film find itself in a dull moment.

That's a definite problem for those looking for some more history to expand this franchise. Compared to the first film, Evolution focuses on a more personal battle. Armies of night creatures battling it out were exactly the aim for the first film. This sequel hits hard with tighter, easier to choreograph action, and with fewer people involved.

A big change is the lack of gunfire. Fight sequences are handled mostly in hand-to-hand combat. This adds an extra layer of brutality, especially since the director pushes the MPAA's R rating as far as it can go. This is a superbly violent movie from the opening credits. The film's key villain suffers a death unlike any other we've seen, and the over-the-top action that precedes it only makes it more satisfying.

All of the fighting is visually striking in some way. Whether it's a camera move, gore focus, or a brutal blow to the face of the werewolves, Underworld is pure style. There's such a plethora of fighting, it's a wonder why they even bothered to explain a story.

That's Evolution's biggest issue. For as fun and engaging as the action is, the reasons behind it are only briefly explained, and not in any real detail. This is a pure Hollywood action movie, and to expect anything else is to set yourself up for disappointment.

After a weak video transfer on the second DVD release of the first film, Evolution makes up for it. This is a clean, sharp, and work of pure DVD beauty. The oppressively dark color tones are handled with care, while the rich black levels stay consistent. Compression is avoided throughout.

Bass is viscious here, giving even a high-end subwoofer a challenge. You'll feel the punches like the poor sucker taking one to the chin. Surround work isn't aggressive, but it's there for ambiance. With lighter gunplay, the film loses a lot of opportunity for the rear speaker use. Still, it does an excellent job of being consistent and active if it's called on.

Extras are minimal this time. A commentary track is informative and fun, discussing most of the special effects scenes and details. Six featurettes, sitting in the 13-minute range on average, discuss various portions of the production. Two of them discuss the special effects and their focus on traditional effects like men in suits. The feature on suit making is especially informative and detailed. Things round off with a music video.

After first film was released on DVD, a special edition followed only six months later. It was an awful disc that failed to eclipse the disc in numerous categories. Given the slim feature set here, it wouldn't be surprising to see another one coming from Fox in the near future.

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About Matt Paprocki

Matt Paprocki has critiqued home media and video games for 13 years and is the reviews editor for Pulp365.com. His current passion project is the technically minded DoBlu.com. You can read Matt's body of work via his personal WordPress blog, and follow him on Twitter @Matt_Paprocki.