The first Underworld movie gave audiences a plot involving a Vampire Werewolf battle that had existed for thousands of years. I am a fan of the original which is an opinion most reviewers do not share, but that hasn’t stopped me from expressing my opinion before!Â The original was dark, mysterious, and filled with great supporting characters like Viktor played by the excellent Bill Nighy. I felt the action was not over done nor did it overshadow the details of the plot which were unpredictable enough to keep me interested. Director and writer Len Wiseman returns with his wife, Kate Beckinsale (Selene), and Scott Speedman (Michael Corvin) for Underworld Evolution.
To be honest I sat through the opening sequence of Underworld Evolution before the title sequence appeared and I was worried. The flashback scene looked like it was filmed on a closed set with mediocre effects (at least compared to other films these days). If there weren’t actors on the set I could have been convinced it was a miniature. It reminded me of a snow globe for some reason. For a moment I thought I had just wasted my hard earned money on what was shaping up to be Van Helsing 2. Luckily the credits swooped in and saved any more pain and Wiseman never returned to the flashback. I suspect it was really done to work Bill Nighy back into the movie for a few minutes.
A lot of people seem to summarize the second movie as a continuation of the first. I read things like “the war between vampire and werewolf continues” or “Selene and Michael must battle both vampire and werewolf in their effort to survive.” The first statement isn’t true at all, and the second is only true in a technical sense. Underworld Evolution is not the same movie as the first. The story initially centers around Selene and Michael’s effort to survive, but soon they are hunted by Marcus who intends to free his brother with the help of Selene’s memories.
The plot in this sequel is simple with far less twists than the first film. I liked the subtle nature of the first movie but there was little of that left in Evolution. Wiseman makes up for subtle, dark, and mysterious with blood. Lots and lots and lots of blood. The extra twenty-eight million this sequel cost I am sure was spent on blood effects.
With blood comes violence of course. Many horror fans thought the original lacked action and violence and Wiseman made up for it in this sequel. Blood, violence, sex, nudity, more blood, more violence, even more blood– are not always a bad thing, and in this case I can’t say it ruined my viewing experience. You have to expect such things in this genre, and while tolerable I miss the subtlety of the first film.
Regardless of the clear pandering to the horror film fans I thought the on-the-run plot was decent. It’s hard to go wrong with that kind of plot. Selene and Michael are pursued by the original vampire only to have Selene eventually reverse the situation putting her back in the hunting role she filled in the first film.
A few directing choices I didn’t like came later in the movie. Wiseman’s slow motion sex scene was too long, and the music and slow motion was later used for a kiss and a few other scenes. When slow motion is used in such a fast paced movie it tends to make the film feel like it’s dragging on. Speaking of the sex scene how weird is it that Beckinsale’s husband was filming her get it on with Scott Speedman, and how nervous do you think Speedman was doing the scene? Ugh.
Not without its flaws, but I liked it all the same.