"Underworld - Evolution" (Blu-ray)
In this sequel to Underworld, we are given a bit of history. Back several hundred years, when William (Steele) and his brother Marcus (Curran) began the colony of werewolves and vampires.
Victor (Nighy), a vampire leader, perpetuates a war between the Death Dealers (vampires) and Lycans (werewolves) over the centuries, and imprisons William in a secret place.
Fast forward to the current times, Selene (Beckinsale) has been betrayed by Victor, and together with Michael (Speedman), who is half vampire and half werewolf, they try to locate William's place of imprisonment so that they can destroy him before he is released by his brother Marcus.
In the meantime, Corvinus (Jacobi), the father of all vampires, wants Selene and Michael to also destroy Victor so that the war can end.
The final goal is to discover the secrets of their bloodlines so that the vampires can be safe in sunlight.
This is one of those rare cases where the sequel is better than the original.
The special effects are spectacular, and Beckinsale looks terrific, as usual.
This will be one of the first discs released in Blu-ray HD format.
Blu-ray Version (8/06 - Kris Deering): Underworld Evolution is without a doubt the best-looking Blu Ray title I've seen so far. The image has superb contrast, with outstanding blacks. Detail is for the most part consistently good, but there are times when the image has a softer look than I'm used to with more recent high definition releases. Compared to the DVD release, the BD release has far more detail and depth. Colors are subdued as intended, and I didn't notice any chroma noise.
The soundtrack is presented in uncompressed multi-channel PCM. Sound design is aggressive, and the PCM soundtrack sounds superb. The low end is solid, and surrounds are used extensively to convey ambience and directional effects. The disc also contains a Dolby Digital soundtrack but I recommend the uncompressed PCM track. - Kris Deering -
These include The Hybrid Theory, Bloodlines: From Script to Screen, Making Monsters Roar, and other things.
- John E. Johnson, Jr. -
"Syriana" (HD DVD)
Two major American oil companies plan to merge, making the largest oil empire in the world.
A US Government official, Jeffrey Wright (Holiday), attempts to investigate the merger.
CIA Operative Bob Barnes attempts to discover what is really going on by travelling to Beirut and asking those would know, namely Hezbollah (a radical set of Shiite groups). Unfortunately, the organization does not want Barnes messing things up, so they make his life rather miserable.
Meanwhile, Nasir al-Subaai (Siddig), an Arab prince of an oil producing country, would like his aging father to name him as successor, so that he can modernize his nation with education for everyone. However, the US favors the other son, who wants things to be status quo.
The US Military, not wanting an Arab nation to become educated before all the oil runs out, decides to assassinate Prince Nasir.
Bob Barnes tries to prevent the assassination, having had enough of his own corrupt government.
As a companion film to Traffic, Syriana has the same documentary feel to it. Unfortunately, there are so many sub-plots thrown at the viewer, it is almost impossible to understand if there is any storyline, rather than just vignettes. As a result, the movie fails to entertain.
HD DVD version - Kris Deering - The HD presentation of this film is quite good with fine detail at times being captivating. The presentation has a very natural film-like appearance that can be a tad soft at times in long shots, but this is probably the intention of the director.
Compression artifacts are never an issue, which seems to be the trend
with the new VC-1 codec. Colors are somewhat subdued to lend to the look
of the film, and the image does have a washed out look at times due to
the persistent brightness of the on location filming. But there is no
mistaking that this is HD.
These include Make a Change, Make a Difference, Additional Scenes, Conversation with George Clooney and Matt Damon, and other things.
- John E. Johnson, Jr. -
"Serenity" (HD DVD)
Joss Whedon is well known for his
very successful TV shows, including Buffy The Vampire Slayer, Angel,
and Firefly. Serenity is a feature length movie that continues the story of
the show Firefly and was actually originally intended as a TV movie. I
imagine that was before Firefly was cancelled from the Fox network,
which was a big blow to the show's many fans.
Serenity was Universal's first offering for the HD DVD format. And what
an intro it was. Serenity looked good on DVD, but it pales in
comparison to this transfer. The movie has a lot of film grain and a stylized look,
and this release captures that perfectly, but still retains perfect
detail even with the smallest objects. Right from the beginning of the
film, depth of image is impeccable, and colors look incredible.
There are none.
- Kris Deering -