‘Underworld’ evolves, but still lacks bite of other vampire flicks

Ally Melling

Underworld: Evolution. COURTESY OF SONG PICTURES”>

Kate Beckinsale, as Selene, and Scott Speedman, as Michael, star in Underworld: Evolution. COURTESY OF SONG PICTURES

Credit: Carl Schierhorn

Before watching Underworld: Evolution, I recalled other sequel masterpieces such as Freddy Vs. Jason and Alien Vs. Predator. I had no delusions of grandeur. I went to see one monster beat the crap out of another and wasn’t disappointed. Keep that in mind before watching Evolution and it will satisfy like Snickers.

The timeless feud between vampires and Lycan werewolves continues where the first Underworld (or, as I like to call it, Hot Topic: The Movie) left off. The “death-dealing” vampire Selene (Kate Beckinsale) and her vampire/Lycan hybrid boyfriend, Michael (Scott Speedman), go on the run after slaying her former vampire master. Complications quickly arise when their escape is interrupted by Marcus, the first and most powerful vampire. The pair must then fight to stay alive while uncovering the vital secrets of the vampire and Lycan origin.

Underworld: Evolution

Starring Katie Beckinsale

and Scott Speedman

Directed by Len Wiseman

Distributed by Sony Pictures

Rated R for pervasive strong language and gore, some sexuality/nudity and language

Stater rating: **

While the worn-out plot follows the Van Helsing and Blade: Trinity trend of original-vampire villains and convenient deus ex machina, it does host some redeeming areas.

The biggest highlight is a spontaneous sex scene where Beckinsale is finally unzipped from her polyvinyl and almost fully revealed to the camera.

Veteran actor Derek Jacobi also adds to the film as the ancient Corvinus, who helps Selene evolve.

Beckinsale would better model for Revlon with a pair of automatics than look like a convincing Death Dealer, sporting perfect skin and lipstick that never smudges.

Mr. Fantastic would also benefit the Fantastic Four with the secret of Beckinsale’s catsuit, which can repair itself as well as she can heal.

Of course we can’t be too critical – a slight suspension of disbelief has to automatically be allowed for a vampire/werewolf flick.

Instead, let’s look at the fantastic CGI.

The fight scenes are fast-paced, creative and wondrous to see. Evolution also dabs further into the supernatural ritual gore that vampire and werewolf fans eat up. Wrists are torn and fed, bimbos bear breasts and fangs for blood orgies and victims are effortlessly ripped apart. The excellent Lycan transformations from the first film have now expanded to the vampires.

It is only when this morphing is repeated numerous times throughout the entire film that the effect becomes lost. The beautiful, rain-soaked grit of the prequel’s Budapest architecture is also gone now. Instead, Evolution saves on production costs by setting almost everything in a disappointing, foreign forest.

Still, what Beckinsale’s Selene lacks in characterization she definitely makes up for in holding her own against most of the Lycans and vampires. She also demonstrates gun-wielding skills that the Clerics of Equilibrium would admire. Thanks to her director/real-life husband, Len Wiseman, Beckinsale once again establishes herself as one of the few suave female action stars of our generation.

Evolution definitely exceeds the first movie, but remember, this is not saying much. It is possible to have an impressive plot, thoughtful characters and top-notch computer animation together in a monster movie. Russia’s 2004 box office hit Nochnoy dozer (Night Watch) is the perfect example of this – find it and you’ll see!

Just like the battles between its predecessor aliens and madmen, Underworld: Evolution will fulfill your monster-on-monster-action lust and give you some bloody wonderful gore. However, if you’re hoping for more than a supernatural slugfest, don’t say I didn’t warn you.

Contact ALL correspondent Ally Melling at [email protected]