Beginning for beginners with a flashback to 1202 A.D. where two siblings - Marcus (Tony Curran), the original vampire, and William (Brian Steele), the first Lycan - are battling each other in a frosty village, the film does much to quickly remind us of its vampirical mythology. Marcus is betrayed by Viktor (Bill Nighy), stored away in the vaults of the family mansion, and William is trapped in a steel coffin for all of eternity. The twins are separated. With this effective piece of prehistory portrayed with some pizzazz and a lot of furrow-browed earnestness, director Len Wiseman treats us then to a series of flashbacks from the original film. Selene (Kate Beckinsale) has killed Viktor and his blood has revived a hybrid Marcus, now with wings. What he wants, and the very nature of his resurrection, are muddily explained in a film whose plot is too convoluted to be enjoyed, but whose occasional sparks of light work hard to make it float.
It is almost redundant to accuse Underworld: Evolution of being an unoriginal mishmash of The Matrix, Blade, and certainly Night Watch, but nonetheless this is definitely the case. Yet for what it is, and for where it fits in the pantheon of great or not-so-great sexy vampire movies, it is perfectly agreeable. It is not good, but it does have its moments. Some of the set pieces are truly impressive; Marcus's winged attack on Selene and Michael's (Scott Speedman) truck is exciting stuff, and the look of the film is admittedly interesting and consistent with the original. Performances are OK, too. As Selene, Beckinsale might be onto something with her bright blue contacts and emotionless Britishness. I don't know if it's acting, but there is a certain charisma in it. Speedman is serviceable, as workmanlike as one expects, but his character is unneeded in a film that barely acknowledges his existence. Michael is a plot device, there to die, be resuscitated, and save the day, oh, and of course make for some nice soft-focus lovemaking. During all of this, stage actor Derek Jacobi lends an unnecessary air of dignity to the affair, an air that is in fact the film's greatest failing.
With its confused octopus plotting and copious splatterings of blood, a little levity would not have gone astray. Alas, Wiseman and writer Danny McBride have created a film that is entirely humorless. Where is Buffy when you need her? Whether or not this film is better than the original Underworld is as moot a point as this review: It would be like comparing apples with apples -- from the same orchard. The only difference is the setting; if the 2003 movie was a city mouse, this is perhaps a country mouse. If you liked staying with the city mouse, you will probably enjoy these more rural settings. For me, Underworld: Evolution may not be a new breed of woe, but it's hard to drum up the enthusiasm to call it anything more than a hybrid of unnecessary and average.
I always bathe with my latex bodysuit and my shotgun, too.
Genre: Sci fi/Fantasy
Run time: 106 mins
In Theaters: Friday 20th January 2006
Box Office USA: $62.3M
Box Office Worldwide: $111.3M
Distributed by: Sony/Screen Gems
Production compaines: Screen Gems, Lakeshore Entertainment
Contactmusic.com: 2 / 5
Rotten Tomatoes: 16%
Fresh: 16 Rotten: 85
IMDB: 6.8 / 10
Director: Len Wiseman
Screenwriter: Danny McBride
Starring: Kate Beckinsale as Selene, Scott Speedman as Michael Corvin, Tony Curran as Marcus Corvinus, Shane Brolly as Kraven, Derek Jacobi as Alexander Corvinus, Bill Nighy as Viktor, Steven Mackintosh as Andreas Tanis, Zita Görög as Amelia, Brian Steele as William Corvinus, Scott McElroy as Soren, John Mann as Samuel, Michael Sheen as Lucian, Sophia Myles as Erika, Richard Cetrone as Pierce, Mike Mukatis as Taylor