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DVD review- UNDERWORLD
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DVD review: UNDERWORLD

by David Blackwell

Movie review: http://enterline2.tripod.com/enterline/id93.html

I love the UNDERWORLD DVD and I was excited to watch this DVD.  The transfer of the movie is excellent and UNDERWORLD has to be watched in 2.35:1 widescreen on DVD because director Len Wiseman uses the frame to the full effect in many scenes in the movie.  The sound on this DVD is great that it will surely make you feel like you're there if you have surround sound 9and part of this has to be due to the excellent sound editing of the movie before it even made it to DVD. The DVD was mastered in high definition like many Columbia Pictures/ Sony Pictures DVDs are.

The animated menu is cool and the way the menu transitiosn to other parts on the DVD when you select one of the options on the menu (like playing the movie, going to scene selection, and to special features).

The DVD has some good extras. You get the theater trailer (but not the one that was featured on other Columbia theater releases), two TV spots (one is a shortened version fo the theaterical trailer not included on this DVD as a seperate extra), and some behind-the-scenes featurettes.

The Stunts featurette is one of the best extras on the DVD with plenty behind-the-scenes video of Kate Beckinsale taring for the role of Selene as you see her do wire work rehearsals and fire the pistols. You also see Scott Speedman do some wire work training and you see how some of the stunts are done including Selene's big jump from the top of a building (which was done in two parts with a stunt double that looks like Kate Beckinsale).  The Creature Effects featurette is also interesting as you look to see how all the werewolves were done and how the skin for Viktor was done in various stages of his skin getting to where he looked human.  Sights and Sounds shows video of the production in between takes and how much screwing off people did (having fun).   Danny McBride directed all three of the above featurettes. 

The Making of Underworld featurette is basically a promo piece for the movie that also includes most of the other Underworld theater trailer which wasn't included as a seperate extra with the trailers.   The only thing I didn't like in the extras was the music video. It's a good video, but the song sucks (it's like listening to bad heavy metal).

The commentaries are fun to listen to. The director and writers commentary (Len Wiseman, Danny McBride, and Kevin Grevioux) describes how the script came together and how many scenes had to be fought for (and some stuff was done in one take). The technical commentary (Claude Letessier, James McQuaide, and another French sound design guy who says alot) is an interesting conversation about the sound design, set design, stunts, and creature effects of UNDERWORLD. Claude even demonstartes some sounds during the commentary. It is interesting to hear one of the sound designers speak with his French accent because it adds interest in hearing him talk during the commentary. They even point out the worse sound effect in the movie and joke about it. UNDERWORLD (the picture of) as pointed out in both commentaries has been digitally corrected and it looks like it was intended to on the DVD (compared to what was seen in the theater).

UNDERWORLD is a film where everyone was involved with Danny McBride playing a death dealer in the movie and shooting a lot of the second unit stuff. They experimented with the sound, and even matached the sound with the music track. The commentaries are very insightful and full of information if you want to know what went into the making of the movie from script to post-production (including how one corridor was used over and over again for different corridors in the movie).

It is amazing to see what type of movie they got with a $22-23 million budget, and filming it in Budapest, Hungary helped to make UNDERWORLD for this cheap (and make it look like a $60 million picture). Now I wait for a future special edition of the movie on DVD to include a director's cut, video of the screen tests, and all of the trailers because UNDERWORLD is the type of movie that screams for a big special edition with tons of new extras.

For another action movie where women kick butt, watch SO CLOSE-  http://enterline2.tripod.com/enterline/id108.html   The women in SO CLOSE shot guns and fight with some excellent action scenes that will impress people who loved the action scenes in UNDERWORLD.

this review is (c)1-5-2004 David Blackwell and this review can't be reprinted without the author's permission. send all comments to lord_pragmagtic@hotmail.com  and look for site updates (and additional content) at http://www.livejournal.com/users/enterlinemedia

 

DVD review: THE ORDER

I enjoyed THE ORDER. It tries to be original. The movie is known as THE SIN EATER overseas. Heath Ledger plays Father Alex who investigates the death of the head of his order, and it leads him chasing a Sin Eater who can absorb people's sins before they die against the backdrop of a myysterious Black Pope who wants to take back the land the church once had. Along for the ride is Alex's friend, Father Thomas, and the girl he is attracted to, Mara. I like this movie that shows some faults of the Roman Catholic Church and the conspiracy that is being fueled by many player including a Cardinal (Petter Weller). Many people may not have liked this movie, but I enjoyed it.

The picture looks horrible on the DVD when there are too much black in the frame. The movie is presented in a full frame and a 1.85:1 widescreen transfer. The sound mix is good, but the picture could have been better.

The commentary track from director Brian Helgeland is very informative as he tells details about where this and that scene were shot, that they had to build a St. Peters church set because the Pope wouldn't allow them to shot in the real St. Peters, and giving info about the cast and crew in this movie including little insights about the other movies he directed (PAYBACK and A KNIGHT'S TALE).

The only extras are 10 minutes of deleted scenes which are interesting (but you can see why most of them were cut and the director wishes he left one of the scenes in as he makes comments on that scene), dalies of one scenes late into the movie (which is fascinating to look at to see how much is shot from different angles to put one scene together, and a theaterical trailer (which is oddly in full frame instead of widescreen).

20th Century FOX did a poor job with this DVD because they really need to do a special edition of THE ORDER to correct flaws in the transfer and include more extras.

this review is (c)1-5-2004 David Blackwell. email all comments to lord_pragmagtic@hotmail.com  and look for site updates (and additional content) at http://www.livejournal.com/users/enterlinemedia