Underworld: Evolution

Cast:
Kate Beckinsale as Selene
Scott Speedman as Michael Corvin
Tony Curran as Marcus
Derek Jacobi as Alexander Corvinus
Bill Nighy as Viktor
Shane Brolly as Kraven
Michael Sheen as Lucian
Kurt Carley as Lycan
Zita Görög as Amelia
Steven Mackintosh as Tanis
Scott McElroy as Soren
Brian Steele as William
Georgianna Tarjan as Adr

Summary:
If you liked “Underworld,” you’ll like “Underworld: Evolution”. It’s more of the same from the first film.

Story:
This film is the sequel to the 2003 film “Underworld”.

Just hours after the events of the previous film, Selene and Michael find themselves on the run from the other remaining vampires. However, a new threat emerges when Kraven, the villain from the previous movie, unleashes Marcus, the very first vampire. Marcus has been accidentally transformed into a vicious new hybrid of vampire that is incredibly strong and can fly. Once released from his crypt, he begins to pursue Selene who holds the key to a secret mission. Selene doesn’t know her role in the scheme, but it is one that will forever affect both vampires and werewolves.

“Underworld: Evolution” is rated R for pervasive strong violence and gore, some sexuality/nudity and language.

What Worked:
If you liked “Underworld,” you’ll like “Underworld: Evolution”. It’s more of the same. You have more vampires shooting werewolves, more of Michael’s hybrid character, more horror/action, and more of Kate Beckinsale’s shiny butt. They essentially stick to the same formula that worked for the first film with very little departure.

The action this time around is pretty good. An opening flashback battle between the werewolves and armor-wearing vampires is quite brutal and impressive. It starts the film off on the right foot. Another chase scene between our heroes and Marcus, the new vampire character, is fun as well. His character flies alongside a truck and attacks them. The final climactic battle between the werewolves, vampires, and hybrids is filled with spectacular stunts, effects, and gunplay that end the film in a satisfying blast of gunfire and blood.

The effects are a mixed bag, but for the most part they are good. There’s a nice mix of CG effects and practical effects. The werewolf suits look pretty good and often are more convincing than their CG stunt counterparts. The effects for the winged Marcus character are also cool. Some of the CG wolf transformations aren’t all that impressive and even looks like stop-motion animation at times, but it’s forgivable. Overall it’s a good effects effort.

What Didn’t Work:
Since “Underworld” and “Underworld: Evolution” are so similar, they also have the same pitfalls. The story is decent, but not spectacular. The posturing by the cool vampires is cheesy at times. The lead villains in human form aren’t intimidating. You often find yourself wondering why superpowered vampires rely so heavily on guns. In short, they haven’t improved on the previous “Underworld” film.

You also can’t walk into this movie without having seen the first film. They do their best to recap what happened before, but it isn’t much help. I saw it back in 2003, but I still had trouble remembering the secondary characters and their relationships with each other. It doesn’t really matter when the action hits the screen, but you may find yourself scratching your head if you haven’t seen it recently. This truly is the second chapter in a saga. I’ll also freely admit that I got lost at one point when a character explained who Alexander Corvinus was and how he fit into the vampire / werewolf lore. I won’t spoil the bits I did follow here, but it certainly wasn’t clear to me.

They’ve also thrown a little nudity into this movie to try and titillate males in the audience. Since both films are R rated anyway, it doesn’t really affect the rating. But it was so incredibly gratuitous that it was laughable. The characters go from hardcore action one minute to gettin’ nekkid the next. It’s so abrupt and drawn out that it becomes quite obvious how they’re using it to manipulate the audience.

I have to end this on a side rant. At the screening we were at, parents were bringing kids ranging in age from 0 to 6 in to watch “Underworld: Evolution”. There was no way that this movie was appropriate for children that age. From the monsters to the gore to the language to the sex scenes, the kids shouldn’t have been there. I know it was a free screening, but come on! Is giving your kids nightmares worth saving a couple of bucks? I don’t think I saw Screen Gems offering free therapy for kids along with the tickets. At the very least I don’t want to hear a child crying while watching vampires blow the heads off of werewolves, and that was the case. I think the studio should ban children under 10 at these advance screenings since parents don’t seem to have common sense themselves.

The Bottom Line:
“Underworld: Evolution” isn’t a great film, but it isn’t a bad one either. It sets out to be a loud, effects filled action-horror film and it does that well. If you liked the first one, expect more of the same.

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