Underworld: Evolution (2006)

underworld-eIn spite of its many, many failings and flaws, I liked “Underworld”. It’s no masterpiece, it’s not even that good, yet it’s still a pretty fun movie that’s mindless without being dumb. I like to describe it as “Matrix” meets horror, meets Abercrombie and Fitch. Sadly, the lore presented in the (now) “Underworld” franchise is still skewed and poor, but it sure is pretty fun. “Underworld: Evolution” is, I’m ashamed to admit, a step up from the previous installment. And it’s much edgier than the first film with more blood, and gore, and some very sexually suggestive material.

But it’s also a fun little film action horror hybrid explores the further exploits of Selene, the vampire who is now on the run with Michael, the Lycanpire© attempting to find Marcus, the other vampire brother, and explain what happened. But, sadly, Marcus has already risen and is pissed as hell. No pun intended. Now he’s looking for the key to unlock William his lycan brother from another mother from hibernation, and wants Selene for mysterious reasons. I’m not one of those movie watchers who will watch a movie just to see action, explosions, and nudity, but with “Underworld: Evolution” it was fun enough to keep me watching, and imaginative enough to keep me interested in the quasi-war happening before our eyes. Though the plot was probably written on the pitch in about a page’s worth followed by “and a lot of explosions and gunfights happen, fill in the rest.”; “Underworld: Evolution” has enough character emphases and back story to keep our eyes glued to the screen.

I was fascinated with Selene this time. She’s an interesting character. She’s cold and to the point as a vampire should be, but she’s occasionally boring, so Michael is added as equilibrium for the empathetic dichotomous presence, and Scott Speedman does a competent job. He keeps Selene from being too boring, and it’s an aspect the writers for “Tomb Raider” should have taken a page from. What step up the sequel has is that it features some truly incredible werewolf–ahem-I mean Lycan transformations. Some of the best I’ve seen in years. With a mixture of super-imposing, and CGI, the transformations are well done and exciting. Marcus is a great villain with a beautiful design and these great wings which also serve as spears to grab his enemies with, which he practices in doing on many occasions.

Much of the set pieces are fun to look at, and the action is taken from the city, right in to the forest and wooded areas for the continuing war of the vampires and the lycans. Scott Speedman is likable as Michael, while Kate Beckinsale (Hair weave or not is still hot) sports a new leather costume, and more characterization this time around as the heroine Selene. “Underworld: Evolution” is a fun string of action scenes that I had fun watching, I have to say. As the sequels pile up, the story gets more and more coated with depth, and substance. Maybe by part five we’ll have an amazing movie. It can happen. But until then, man was this cheesy. There were many particular scenes I had trouble sitting through. The vampire master who took longer to die than Yoda, the inconsistent characterization of Michael who one minute needs blood, then the next doesn’t.

He takes some of Selene’s blood near death, and then suddenly doesn’t have any for a very long time, he can change at will but is shown in the opening that he has some trouble controlling it, they find themselves racing sunlight and Michael happens to find seven cans of black paint which he coats the windows with, Selene is powerful sometimes and weak many other times, she drinks powerful blood which makes her thump her chest and scream like Tarzan but then gets knocked around by typical werewol–Lycans. If they’re immortal, powerful, fang and claw vampires, what’s the guns for? And why use regular bullets when it’s pointed out in the original you need special silver tipped, super, turbo, dynamic bullets to knock down a lycan? Which is it? Stop playing games with the audience for convenience of plot. What matchbox writing school did you go to Mr. McBride? You write principles for your characters, you stick to that. You don’t change it for the purposes of plot. That’s confusing, annoying, and just plain insulting to our intelligence. Superman isn’t vulnerable to Kryptonite one minute, and then is able to hold it in his hand to snatch it from Lex.

That’s ridiculous. Meanwhile, they give us a padding laden rundown of the first film in the opening, as if we hadn’t seen the first. Who goes to a sequel without having seen the first movie? You’d have to be dumb to go in to a sequel and then ask your partner “So, explain what happened in the first movie.” No, you go out and get yourself a copy and then catch up.  What was the point of adding a rundown of the events in the first film other than to kill time? I answered my own question, there, didn’t I? Moving on, Wiseman’s direction shows promise, but can tend to be pretty weak too. The editing is often very choppy, and Wiseman’s featuring of his pivotal characters during action sequences is often pretty hackneyed and all over the place. In many scenes I had trouble making out what was happening. And there’s always some sort of key, or a map that everyone wants in these movies isn’t there?

It’s always weak character motivation regardless of what movie it is. I wonder if there’s a mystical lost and found where all these keys are kept that some old man rummages through. And, as usual, there’s the build-up of the lycan ancestor William who Marcus is attempting to break free from hibernation, but sadly his final emergence is disappointing. Maybe Wiseman should have taken the five minutes spent to establish the first movie, and add more substance to William’s character. William’s entry is as disappointing as King Seesar’s entry in “Godzilla vs. Mechagodzilla”. We have this built-up suspense and mounting anticipation, all for a pussy who doesn’t really contribute much in battle. Williams entry was, suffice it to say, disappointing, and the lore is still so damn under-developed and never played to its full potential. Do we have to wait for another sequel? I think so. Yes, I’ll admit, it’s better than the first film, but really not by much. The story is further evolved, but the evolution is very gradual, and the lore and mythos is still extremely boring and under-developed, however, this sequel is a hard R with a lot of violence, sexual content, and better characterization and beautiful creature designs. Here’s hoping this story with much potential continues to evolve.