After the success of Resident Evil, Sony Screen Gems was looking to create another action-horror hybrid to release during the slower movie-going months of the year, and went with a pitch from a music video director/guy from Roland Emmerich’s art department, Len Wiseman. Underworld, which did decent business in the RE spot before becoming a January tentpole for the distributor, is a slick-looking but ultimately hollow series with some neat monster designs and a good looking heroine. I have to give credit where credit is due: they created a series with a slightly intensive mythology, filled with lineages and centuries-old feuds, but give almost zero character development to anyone. Now THAT’S impressive. For this review, I’m going to be focusing on the box set and the new features on it rather than the films themselves, since we already have stand-alone reviews for them on the site. With the fourth entry hitting theatres in less than a month, Sony is double-dipping their Blu-ray trilogy box set with a few minor changes. Underworld Trilogy: The Essential Collection features a new box design, a bonus disc – which was clearly an afterthought since it’s housed in a white paper sleeve in between the Blu-ray cases of the theatrical films – titled Underworld: Endless War, and UltraViolet copies of all three flicks. Aside from the absence of a traditional digital copy of Rise of the Lycans, the Blu-rays for the feature-length releases are exactly the same. Same cover and disc art, same excellent A/V quality, same bonus features, same everything. So, if you already own the stand-alone discs or the original trilogy box set, picking this up is kind of a waste unless you’re looking to expand your Ultraviolet collection or want a cartoon that’s eighteen minutes long.
Endless War’s story, split into three parts and done in an Americanized anime style that reminds me of Teen Titans, spans more than a century as Selene tracks down three Lycan brothers who have been living as wealthy aristocrats in Paris. Like the franchise it’s based on, it’s heavy on action and light on story. In the eighteen minutes it took to run its course, it really didn’t leave an impression, nor did it strike me as anything really important in the grand scheme of things… or the franchise’s mythology. On top of that, the Blu-ray disc itself is pretty sparse and disappointing; there’s no bonus features, a bare menu, a cloudy, murky transfer, and a Dolby Digital 2.0 track that’s not lossless. If anyone needed any evidence of how much of a rushed, cash-in this release is, the specs and quality speak for themselves.
Underworld Trilogy: The Essential Collection is anything but essential; in fact, it’s pretty pitiful considering the only selling points of the new set are a not-that-great cartoon, and digital copies on a cloud service that I haven’t heard the kindest things about thus far. If you’re a fan and don’t own any of them yet, this is probably the release to get in terms of supplements – and a movie ticket to see Underworld: Awakening, which was not included with my set and or Amazon’s stock, from what I’ve read – but otherwise, the cartoon is not worth the purchase. At all.
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