September 20, 2012

Underworld: Evolution (2006)

"Picking up directly from the previous film, vampire warrior Selena and the half werewolf Michael hunt for clues to reveal the history of their races and the war between them."

Apart from being overloaded with continuity errors, plot holes, and other goofs, "Underworld: Evolution" at least attempted to flesh out the story created in "Underworld" and retroactively turn that film into part one of a greater epic. Unfortunately, it also added some new characters who were even more one-dimensional than the first lot.

If I had been looking for any character development in "Underworld: Evolution", I would have been sorely disappointed. It was just more of the same with everyone being underused as ciphers between the spectacular CGI-fuelled action scenes. I must admit that I really liked the action and tried to just enjoy it for what it was rather than scrutinize it too closely. Realism and the laws of physics have no place in these movies.

With a budget nearly twice as big as that of the original "Underworld", the effects guys created some quite exhilarating and gory sequences in a few places. The werewolves, or Lycans as I should call them, were some seriously nasty-looking beasts and, of course, the Marcus bat-creature stole the show completely with his wings.

Marcus, as played by Tony Curran who I remembered most as Lenny from season two of "This Life" (back when BBC2 dramas were still good) and for being a very Scottish viking in "The 13th Warrior" (1999), was really impressive to begin with, but then turned into yet another overacted villain with about as much menace in human form as an angry rice pudding. It was a shame really because the opening scenes promised so much more in terms of kingship and his more regal nature.

Kate Beckinsale, on the other hand, was exactly the same as before which pleased me for purely sinister reasons. I appreciated the nudie bits and her slickly choreographed athleticism. I wish I could say that I cared about her character, but, unfortunately, there was nothing there to care about other than the way she looked. As an immortal vampiress, Selene just wasn't all that interesting until about five minutes before the end.

I don't have much to say about Michael (Scott Speedman) either. Once again, he was just sort of there in the background until it was time for him to get his ass kicked by something meaner than he was. He was kind of like a more supernatural version of Xander from "Buffy the Vampire Slayer" in that respect but without any charisma or a sense of humour.

One character who I think needed more screen time was Tanis as played by Steven Mackintosh. I suppose he did all he needed to do in the story by revealing the necessary information about the key and William the werewolf's dungeon, but it was almost as much of a waste as casting Sir Derek Jacobi as a far less impressive Corvinus than the mythology up to that point had me expecting.

Apart from having an almost Biblical unwillingness to control his offspring, the only thing Corvinus did was turn Selene into a super-vampire who could eventually do the thing which he wouldn't. Not to spoil it for you if you haven't seen it (even though you've had six years to do so!), the final battle was nicely done but very predictable.

According to the IMDb, "Underworld: Evolution" initially did only slightly better than "Underworld" at the box office and then was lucky to get its money back. I don't remember the reviews at the time, but I have vague memory that "Underworld: Evolution" was considered a bit of a turd. Since 2006 was a pretty bad year for films anyway, I didn't bother watching it or anything else at the cinema apart from James Bond. Having only ever seen "Underworld: Evolution" on DVD, I think I might have enjoyed it slightly more as some mindless entertainment on the big screen.

As a sequel which tried harder than most to be a real part two rather than a recreation of the same story, I don't consider "Underworld: Evolution" to be a complete waste of time, but I probably would have been better off watching some blue and black paint dry.

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