Underworld Evolution
R E V I E W   B Y   R I C H   C L I N E dir Len Wiseman
scr Danny McBride
with Kate Beckinsale, Scott Speedman, Tony Curran, Derek Jacobi, Steven Mackintosh, Bill Nighy, Shane Brolly, Michael Sheen, Brian Steele, Zita Gorog, Scott McElroy, John Mann
release US/UK 20.Jan.06
06/US Screen Gems 1h45

Consulting the oracle: Mackintosh, Beckinsale and Speedman

beckinsale speedman jacobi

See also: UNDERWORLD (2003)

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Underworld Evolution Where the 2003 original delighted us with gonzo mayhem, this sequel bludgeons us with over-serious dialog and battles that are even more chaotic and illogical. If that's possible.

After a brief prologue about vampire/lycan origins in 1202, the story picks up where the first film ended. Vampire assassin Selene (Beckinsale) and vamp-wolf hybrid Michael (Speedman) are on the run from everyone, especially the just-awakened father of all bloodsuckers Marcus (Curran). So they head for a historian (Mackintosh) for some tips, while a shady figure (Jacobi) seems to be controlling things from behind the scenes. The main worry is that Marcus might awaken the original werewolf, his twin brother William (Steele), and plunge the world into even more chaos.

The story blasts off with such a frenetic pace that we never quite get a grip on it. Even with narration, on-screen text and loads of flashbacks, it's impossible to follow all the references to the first film. McBride and Weisman are clearly intent on creating their mythology with its own rules, but it just doesn't make any logical sense. For example, like the original, Selene tenaciously shoots big guns, even though bullets don't slow these creatures down. And whenever they need a new four-wheel drive vehicle or a black leather jacket, there's one handily available.

Leather-sheathed Beckinsale and frequently shirtless Speedman do their best to maintain a human presence at the centre of the film, but besides one airbrushed (and anatomically perplexing) sex scene, the script never lets them breathe. This is all-action all the time, so at least it keeps us on the edge of our seats. Effects and make-up work is variable--sometimes cheesy, occasionally stunning, always over-the-top. Everything is over-designed, but that actually helps create an intriguing setting for all the blood-splattering combat.

On the other hand, Weisman spends all his time trying to distract us from the vacuum at the centre of it all. Incessant noise, lascivious camera work, astonishingly inane dialog, overcomplicated visuals and over-staged fights: he and McBride clearly think they've created something cool and amazing here. Cool, maybe. But it's also utterly stupid.

cert 18 themes, violence, language, gore, sexuality 17.Jan.06

R E A D E R   R E V I E W S
send your review to Shadows... Underworld Evolution D Brown, Chicago: 2/5 "This is the kind of movie that should have gone straight to video. It's not worth paying $8 at the theater but renting it for $3 and sitting at home with it, it's a good sit at home and chill kind of movie." (25.Jan.06)
2006 by Rich Cline, Shadows on the Wall