Kate Beckinsale still looks really good in really tight leather. And the people behind Underworld: Evolution also give her eyes an otherworldly bluish glow. That's about all that is good about Underworld: Evolution, the horrendous follow-up to the surprise hit Underworld. The first movie was fun in a silly manner. Like most sequels for unexpected hits, Evolution tries to take things to the next level. There are more action sequences, more violence, and more stunts. The story becomes highly convoluted, but that's okay - it's not necessary to listen to anything to get the basic gist of the film.
Remarkably, Evolution begins right after the first movie. There is even a quick recap for anybody who forgot the original (like at the beginnings of television shows). Selene (Beckinsale, The Aviator, Van Helsing) just killed the leader of the vampires and is now on the run with Michael (Scott Speedman, xXx: State of the Union, Underworld), the vampire/lycan (werewolf) hybrid. However, there are bigger things at play. Markus (Tony Curran, Flight of the Phoenix, The League of Extraordinary Gentleman), an ancient vampire, wants a talisman that Selene and Michael have. He is extremely powerful, yet the two still manage to outrun and barely beat him multiple times.
Director Len Wiseman (Underworld), who co-wrote the screenplay with Danny McBride (Underworld) pull another standard sequel tactic - much of what Selene knew to be the truth was wrong. Everybody was lying, and as she tries to uncover the secret of the talisman, she learns about things hidden for centuries. Yawn. Like the original, there is a lot of plot going on, but again, none of it is really necessary. Things will eventually come to a head between Selene and Markus, and getting there takes far too long. And while Wiseman and McBride spent a lot of time ensuring that the world they created makes sense, it still has a number of holes. The special effects are okay. The lighting is the best part about it. Otherwise, there is a mixture of computer animation and fake looking werewolf costumes. Speedman's transformation into a vampire/werewolf never looked that impressive; he just looks like they put oil and a mask on him.
The most surprising aspect of Underworld: Evolution is how dull it is. There are lots of people dying and many special effects, but without a compelling reason or characters, there's no reason for this sequel (warning, it looks like another is coming). Part of what made the first fun was its opposing sensibilities. Medieval creatures fight in modern cities with modern weapons. Here, most of the settings are in old castles or other ancient places. Though Beckinsale jumping off a building and landing on her feet was cool in the original? Okay, let's do it multiples time here. The movie is all over the place, and it even feels like Wiseman added in some random cussing and nudity to go along with the R rating for violence.
|Haro Rates It: Pretty Bad.|
|1 hour, 45 minutes, Rated R for pervasive strong violence and gore, some sexuality/nudity, and language.|
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