Underworld: Limited Edition 5-Film Collection (2003-2016) | 4K Blu-ray Review


In a series of movies that spanned 13 years, the Underworld franchise certainly has its following, myself included. While arguably a few of the entries are a bit weak, it overall stands up, and provides a level of enjoyment for the fan. In the past, we have been treated to the first and fifth movies getting the 4K treatment, but until now the middle three films have been stuck on older Blu-rays. Sony has decided to upgrade the franchise, in this five film set. Let’s see how they hold up.

NOTE: As currently it is only possible to purchase the middle three movies via this collected set, this review will encompass all 5 movies and their collective quality. Differences in specs will be highlighted with movie specific designations (“U1”, “U2”, etc.), for the respective film by release order. Additionally, I will not be providing scores for the included Blu-rays as they are the same discs included in past standalone releases, but will highlight them for comparisons in quality.


If after checking out the review, you decide to pick it up, you can find it here*: Amazon

Underworld Collection, 4K Blu-ray cover art

Tech Specs:

Format(s):UltraHD/4K Blu-ray (5x BD-66)
Blu-ray (4x BD-50, 1x BD-25)
Digital Code
Released By:Sony Pictures Home Entertainment
Release Date:October 26th, 2021
Video Format / Codec:4K: H.265 (HEVC)
Resolution:(U1 – U4): 
Upscaled 4K, 2160/24p

(U5):
Native 4K, 2160p/24p
Digital Intermediate (DI):U1 – U2: 
2K (from 35mm negatives)

U3 – U4: 
2K (from digital RAW)

U5: 
4K (from digital RAW)
High-Dynamic Range (HDR):HDR10
Aspect Ratio:2.39:1
Audio Format(s):English (4K): 
Dolby Atmos / TrueHD 7.1 (48kHz, 24-bit)
 
Additional Tracks:

U1: English, French, Japanese

U2: English, French, German, Italian, Japanese, Spanish, Turkish, Hindi

U3: English, German, Italian, Japanese, Spanish, Czech, French, Hindi, Hungarian, Polish, Russian, Thai, Turkish

U4: English, German, Japanese, Spanish, Czech, French, Hindi, Hungarian, Italian, Polish, Russian, Thai, Turkish

U5: English, French
Subtitles:U1: English, English SDH, French, Italian

U2: English, English SDH, French, German, Italian, Japanese, Spanish, Danish, Dutch, Finnish, Hebrew, Hindi, Mandarin (Simplified), Mandarin (Traditional), Norwegian, Swedish, Turkish

U3: English, English SDH, French, German, Italian, Japanese, Portuguese, Spanish, Arabic, Czech, Danish, Dutch, Finnish, Greek, Hindi, Hungarian, Icelandic, Korean, Mandarin (Simplified), Mandarin (Traditional), Norwegian, Polish, Romanian, Slovak, Slovenian, Swedish, Thai, Turkish

U4: English, English SDH, French, German, Italian, Japanese, Spanish, Arabic, Czech, Danish, Dutch, Estonian, Finnish, Hindi, Hungarian, Korean, Lithuanian, Mandarin (Simplified), Mandarin (Traditional), Norwegian, Polish, Romanian, Russian, Slovak, Swedish, Thai, Turkish

U5: English, English SDH, French
Packaging:Slipbox containing 5 dual disc snap cases w/ slipcovers
Region Coding:4K: Region-free
BR: Mostly Region-free, except U3 is Region A (locked)

Video Review:

While we kind of knew what we were getting with the first and 5th film due to their past 4K releases, this is the first time all 5 movies have been presented in the full 4K format on physical media. I should note, that the transfers here for the first and 5th due appear to be the same as their past standalone releases, however at least on the first film, this does not appear to be a repackage of the same disc itself, which I’ll touch on in special features.

On the detail front, the first 4 films are all coming from a 2K digital intermediate and are upscaled to 4K. Blood Wars is a native 4K movie and it definitely shows. While ,the good news is that each movie did get a bump up in quality, however it was not huge on this front. While fine details are definitely more visible and slightly sharper, much of the increase in picture quality seems to be more due to the increase in dynamic range and not necessarily due to the upscaling process revealing a tremendous amount of detail itself. That said, facial features, costumes and set pieces all do look more refined. While the visual FX are definitely slightly sharper they are definitely still suffering a bit of softness from their 2K origins. The films are still presented with a fairly heavily “sharpened” look with dark lines delineating the elements on screen. This definitely appears to be an artistic choice and not one of accidental overprocessing as this is also how I recall the movies looking in the theater, and the 4K disc definitely handles that choice more naturally as I did not find it as pronounced as I did on the Blu-ray. There is also a heavy grain aspect, especially in the first two films which were captured on the photochemical format.

The HDR is definitely the star of the show on these 5 releases. The color palette of the films is muted and blue-toned. On releases that meant the nary featured brighter colors often got muted as well. On the 4K releases, the wider color gamut gave a bit more punch to blood, a more piercing amplification to highlight blues in Selene’s eyes, and a well preserved moody, moonlit look to the entirety of the films. Additionally, due to the very nature and subject matter of the films, they are very dark, often bringing down the whites along with them. The HDR10 adds a nice pop to whites, while keeping blacks deep and dark. There is some black crush in the shadows, but it often looks intentional to enhance the contrast between the light and dark elements of the screen and artifacting was not abundant. The handling of these light and dark elements is definitely the highlight here over the details levels and made for a much more visually immersive experience

Video Score (4K): 4.2 / 5

The Blu-rays are the same as past releases and will not be given score.

Audio Review:

The past Blu-ray releases of these five films all had a 5.1 surround mix. Those are all still here on the 4K discs as alternate tracks, but in DTS-HD Master Audio (supplanting the uncompressed PCM used on some of the earlier Blus). While those tracks in general were all very good, the highlight here is the new Dolby Atmos mix. The first and fifth films already received theirs in their initial release, but the middle three films all got the upgrade as well and they are all excellent. While there are some nitpicks, in general the experience is much more immersive with good use of the additional back and height channels and the availability of objects. Discrete effects definitely come into play in the lower channels, with the height channels primarily used for more expansiveness to sound rather than supporting discrete sounds. 

In general the LFE/bass is absolutely present and powerful, with gunshots, explosions and punches all getting an extra oomph, however it also sounded like it could have been pushed even a bit more especially in this type of film. It was not anemic by any stretch, but it just felt like they dialed it up to a 7, where they could have gone to 9 or a 10 on some scenes.

All throughout the dialog remains clean and clear in each of the 5 films. I am glad to har that Sony decided to still take some care with these tracks and they were a nice upgrade over the past mixes.

Audio Score (4K): 4.5 / 5

The Blu-rays are the same as past releases and will not be given score.

Special Features and Packaging:

We do get special features on all 5 films, however they are pretty much what we got before. While Sony did move a couple of the, to the 4K discs, including one that actually is in 4K resolution on the first film, the rest are direct ports from the past Blu-ray (or 4K) releases. One big thing they did was give fans is that both the theatrical and extended cuts are here in 4K for the first film. The previous release only had the theatrical cut in 4K, with the extended cut reserved for the Blu-ray. Overall what is present is good and enjoyable, some of it forgettable, and some of it just average. There’s at least a decent list for some of the films, but it would have been nice to get even more on this limited edition set.

On packaging, Sony, used a similar slipbox design as to what they used on the Resident Evil set, however one big improvement is that instead of films bifold cardboard cases in that set, each film here gets its own 2 disc snapcase and a custom slipcover not found on past releases. There are no additional physical features (booklets, posters, etc) so the limited edition moniker in relation to packaging and features is really due to the slipbox and slipcovers. But, it’s also not priced as high as most limited sets, so take that for what it’s worth.

Features Score: 3.6 / 5

Buy/Upgrade-worthiness:

OK, so should you buy this? If you are a fan of the films, then you should pick this up. At the current $60 price tag, it’s a steal to get this at $12/film. Are they perfect? Definitely not, but the image and audio track upgrades are enough to justify a purchase in my mind. The question does become more complicated especially if you already own the first and fifth films in their past 4K releases as now you are double-dipping for those two films. But if you are a fan and you already own those and the Blu-rays, you can likely offset some of the cost by selling those off knowing you won’t be giving up much if anything once you have this set.


Buy/Upgrade Recommendation: YES!

If after checking out the review, you decide to pick it up, you can find it here*: Amazon

Summary and Overall Scores:

Sony did a really nice job collecting the Underworld films in 4K. Given the narrower niche of people who enjoy these films, it is understandable why they did not go back and do full on remasters and resorted to upscaling on the earlier films. That said, Sony does a nice john with their upscales. These movies are not perfect, and their 4K releases are not perfect either, but for fans, this is a nice addition to a collection and the best way to see these particular films.

Experience Score**: 4.2 / 5  (Very Good)

** Experience score does not take into account the quality of the film itself, just the technical presentation, packaging and included features.

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