Underworld: Evolution / Dustin Rowles
Film Reviews | May 12, 2006 | Comments ()
Let’s just get this out of the way first, so there’s no pretense to the rest of the review: Underworld: Evolution is a fucking joke of a movie. It’s an incoherent nightmare dressed in black leather and a fang-wielding strap-on that ejaculates ultraviolet ammunition into the back of your throat. It’s a fast-paced, quickly edited blow-blood-out-your-ass shit-fest, no more logical than the drunken ramblings of Paris Hilton after she’s pissed herself trying to get home in a cab. And for your average movie-goer, Evolution possesses all the appeal of the entrails dripping from Kate Moss’ left nostril the morning after going Coyote Ugly with Lindsay Lohan at Scores.
And, yeah, it is that bad.
Yet it’s hard to begrudge the fanboys and gals walking out of the theaters across the country with satisfied grins stitched across their Twinkie-and-Red-Bull-encrusted faces, because for fans of the based-upon-a-graphic-novel-that-never-actually-existed genre, you can’t really ask for more than what director Len Wiseman offers up with Evolution: It’s got illogical, convoluted vampire/werewolvian mythology; Fangoria-worthy special effects; and not only Kate Beckinsale’s blood-dripping pout, but even the occasional shot of her midriff (!) For a guy like Harry Knowles and his sycophantic minions, it’s the ideal reprieve from comic books, Cool Ranch-flavored Doritos, and chronic masturbation. (God Bless the gamers and comic-book geeks for not only being such easy targets, but for your complete inability to defend yourselves without actually furthering your own stereotypes, see, e.g. the comments for Aeon Flux.)
I’ll cop to semi-enjoying Underworld’s original installment and its mildly amusing kick-assery, and Evolution picks up right where the original left off, i.e., in the mythical land of Incoherencia. Only this time, we learn through flashbacks that Viktor (Bill Nighy), the guy who had his head slashed in half by Selene (Beckinsale) in the original, wasn’t actually the end-all-be-all of the vampire race. In fact, Michael Corvin’s (Scott Speedman) forefather was the original “immortal” who spawned Marcus (Tony Curran), the original vampire, and William (Brian Steele), the first Lycan (a.k.a. Werewolf), who were sequestered in mothballs way back in 1202 A.D., apparently for no other reason than to stay fresh for the inevitable Underworld sequel.
For reasons I can’t really wrap my head around, after Viktor’s head slashing, some of the vampire dudes went and stirred Marcus from his slumber. Unfortunately, in exchange for removing his mothballs, Marcus gored his liberators and made up his mind right then and there (goddamnit!) to find his werewolf brother and start some sort of brother-on-werewolf incestual race of Werepires © so that they can ultimately rule all of Incoherencia together.
Of course, the only persons standing in the way of the Werepire© race are the Death Dealer, Selene, and (inexplicably) Ben from “Felicity,” who basically walks around the entire film looking like he did after Felicity got drunk and fucked that frat guy. Apparently, no one told Scott Speedman that they were filming the read-through, though he does master the parts in the script that call for him to strip off his shirt whenever he’s threatened by a Lycan.
Anyway, Selene also apparently holds (within her blood [!]) the secret to the whereabouts of William, so she really doesn’t have a choice but to save mankind from the Werepires©, a feat she is apparently capable of without actually changing the expression on her face. Still, Beckinsale (whose husband is also the director) is more than serviceable here, and she’s certainly lovely to look at. It’s a shame, really, that Rachel McAdams is forcing Beckinsale out of the Hollywood food chain; Kate’s next part is opposite Adam Sandler, which seems to be the last stop as a leading lady before heading out to pasture (see, e.g., Winona Ryder, Marisa Tomei, Patricia Arquette, and Joey Lauren Adams, none of whom have had a major Hollywood part since making out with Sandler onscreen).
I will give Underworld: Evolution some credit, however; it’s nice to see that there are some films out there that are trying to further the arm of the horror genre that still contains a trace of the good vs. evil humanity. Unlike the nihilistic descendants of Saw (see, e.g., Wolf Creek, Hostel), the Underworld franchise owes more to Rawhead Rex, Pumpinhead, Hellraiser, and An American Werewolf in London, et. al, whose gore has no basis in reality but is more in the fist-pumping “Awesome!” tradition, rather than the “Let’s see how real we can make mutilating her genitalia look” innovation. It’s a small compliment, but in a movie devoid of logic, merit, or a reason for existing, it’s the best I can muster.
Dustin Rowles is the publisher of Pajiba and managing partner of its parent company, which prefers to remain anonymous for reasons pertaining to public relations. He lives in Ithaca, New York.