In Evolution, you get David Duchovny, (former) star of TV's The X-Files who has failed miserably to cross over to any kind of success in film. Julianne Moore, former independent darling before she started making movies like The Lost World and Hannibal. Orlando Jones, 7-Up pitchman and easily typecast goofball. And Seann William Scott, whose most visible role was as a stoner in Dude, Where's My Car?
Before we start talking about creating a new Oscar category, let's consider the rickety vehicle these clowns are forced to try and jump-start. Duchovny and Jones play science teacher colleagues at an Arizona community college and Scott an earnest yet barely capable aspiring fireman; the three come together when a meteor (sometimes referred to as an asteroid in the movie) touches down in the desert, carrying with it a genetic payload that soon starts to wreak havoc on the locals.
Moore's CDC official comes to the rescue -- along with the military -- and soon enough the alien infestation has ultra-rapidly evolved into a race of fierce monsters with only one fatal flaw: They can't breathe oxygen.... But they're learning, and fast.
Director Ivan Reitman puts our heroes through their paces, using his timeworn tradition of blending action, sci-fi, and comedy -- or at least that's the idea. Sadly, virtually every plot point of Evolution is ripped off, unapologetically, from Ghostbusters, Reitman's 1984 film that had a gang of losers fighting off the supernatural instead of the extraterrestrial.
Oh, and Ghostbusters was, like, funny.
Reitman, who hasn't made a legitimately good film since 1993's Dave, is decidedly off his game here. The special effects come down to hit and miss CGI graphics mixed in with hastily constructed miniatures. It's all just laziness: While a Jurassic Park dinosaur needs to look awfully real to work on the big screen, Reitman figures he can get away with just about anything for these alien dudes. As a result, even the best of the creatures are decidedly Jim Henson-esque.
The plot, as mentioned, is a wholesale ripoff of Ghostbusters (though it does stir in some of the worst scientific reasoning ever made since Ghostbusters 2 implicated "negative feelings" for its pink ooze of evil). Will the government meddle and make things worse? Will someone get "slimed" (or thereabouts)? Will there be a shootout in a public place? And will our heroes be forced to shoot stuff out of a tube in order to defeat a creature that meets an end in such a way that should have Mister Stay-Puft dialing his lawyers for copyright infringement? Do you really need answers to these?
Our poor actors are reduced to delivering some of the same old one-liners and some chuckle-worthy new ones, but with Evolution Reitman seems to have forgotten what made Ghostbusters such a memorable film -- and indeed, a true piece of Americana. It was a film with heroes that you wanted to see win, it was truly funny, it was eminently quotable ("We came, we saw, we kicked its ass!"), and it had class. Even the villains were charming -- I mean, the Stay-Puft Marshmallow Man has way more charisma than a giant, pink, alien blob.
But enough about Evolution the movie. Let's talk about the moron who took 10 minutes to figure out how to focus the projector at the start of the film. Now that's evolution for ya.
Is it just me, or do Duchovny, Jones, and Scott look like the fake ones here?
Run time: 101 mins
In Theaters: Friday 8th June 2001
Box Office USA: $37.6M
Box Office Worldwide: $98.4M
Distributed by: Dreamworks Pictures
Production compaines: Montecito Picture Company, The, DreamWorks Pictures, Columbia Pictures
Contactmusic.com: 2 / 5
Rotten Tomatoes: 43%
Fresh: 57 Rotten: 77
IMDB: 6.0 / 10
Director: Ivan Reitman
Starring: David Duchovny as Dr. Ira Kane, Julianne Moore as Dr. Allison Reed, CDC, Orlando Jones as Prof. Harry Phineas Block, Seann William Scott as Wayne Grey, Ted Levine as General Russell Woodman, Dan Aykroyd as Governor Lewis, Ty Burrell as Colonel Flemming, Andrew Bowen as Road Worker, Sarah Silverman as Denise, Katharine Towne as Nadine, Stephanie Hodge as Jill Mason
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