Thursday, January 18, 2007

Underworld: Evolution (2006)

Underworld: Evolution (2006)

The sequel to 2003's Underworld is a worthy follow up. By worthy I mean it lives up to the original, which was a good looking, somewhat entertaining, hollow and mostly forgettable piece of entertainment with delusions of mythical grandeur. Spoilers for both films follow.

In the first film, a centuries old war between vampires and lycans (werewolves) was approaching a turning point with the creation of a vampire-lycan hybrid named Michael (Scott Speedman). A vampire 'death dealer' (person who kills lycans) named Selene (Kate Beckinsale) learns a dark secret about the history of vampire-lycan relations (chuckle) and ends up killing one of the vampire leaders before fleeing with Michael. The sequel picks up from this point. It starts with a little prelude segment about the first vampire and lycan, from whom all others descended. It then cuts back to the present, where Selene and Michael attempt to awaken the last remaining 'elder' vampire, Marcus (Tony Curran), and tell him what's been happening. Unfortunately, the guy's already woken up and gone a little nuts - he promptly deprives the main villain from the last film of his life and starts hunting Selene and Michael because of some information that's encoded in Selene's blood (no, really!) that will help him to release his brother, the first ever Lycan, who was imprisoned by... aww fuck it, I can't go on.

The film's actually dumber than I've made it sound. It attempts to create a rich 'mythology' for this world of vamps and werewolves, but fails. It's convoluted, contrived, and just plain pretentious. There are lapses of logic in this plot - how did they hide the location of the secret prison from Marcus for so long if blood memories are transferred with every awakening? Why is every location seemingly a short drive or chopper ride from every other location - I thought only Jack Bauer had that power? Why is Michael able to fight the big bad lycan so easily, when he doesn't appear to be that much better than regular lycans? In fact, what is so great about this hybrid loser? The inconsistency in main characters' abilities is irritating, and when the fight scenes are the only thing worth watching in the movie, that's a pretty big negative.

The whole story is one big chase where each location is thinly connected to the other with cheesy exposition. Character development is non existent, and the characters are one-note ciphers who have somber expressions permanently carved onto their faces. Perhaps vampires and lycans don't smile - the biggest flaw is how seriously the film takes itself. It's pompous to the extreme. The acting is dire, but I can't really fully blame the cast given the writing and directing. But I can single out Scott Speedman, who must be the blandest leading man to appear in a motion picture in a long time. Oh, and I must mention the 'romance' between the leads, which amounts to one seemingly random sex scene. Which takes place mere moments after our heroes escape a near unstoppable beast - might he track them down? Don't know, so let's have S-E-X! Woo hoo! Seriously, a more hollow romance I cannot recall.

So what's good about Underworld: Evolution? Well, the action scenes, while being nothing special, offer some entertainment. Kate Beckinsale sure is pretty. Cor, there's a lot of blood and some nudity, so it's really 'adult'. It's moderately pleasing visually, although there's just too much of a blue tint to every scene. There are decent sets, costumes etc... decent mind you, not good. To cite those elements as strengths is like saying that the best parts of a book are the cover, the binding, and the typeface. The film is an OK way to kill time if you're a fan of action / werewolves / vampires / tight leather. Discerning film fans ought to give it a pass, unless they need a reminder of what mediocre film-making is all about.


sanity index said...

I enjoyed the original "Underworld" as good eye candy with a decent story. Missed "Underworld: Evolution" in the theatres, but guess I didn't miss all that much! The story would've had promise if they cared to develop it, it sounds like.

Antimatter said...

I enjoyed the first one too, strangely enough. But it's one of those films that seeps out of your mind shortly after you see it. The second one I found quite painful at times... Let's just say, there's nothing new on offer.