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Published January 20th, 2006 | by Paul Greenwood

Underworld: Evolution Review

Classification: 18 Director: Len Wiseman Rating: 2.5/5

If you can be bothered casting your mind back to 2003’s Underworld, you might remember that it starred Kate Beckinsale as the werewolf assassinating Selene, caught in the middle of a centuries old war between vampires and so called lycans. That film ended with Selene having killed the vampire lord Viktor (Nighy) while her human tagalong Michael (Speedman) was turning into a vampire/lycan hybrid. Evolution starts with an “eight hundred years ago” prologue that sees Viktor imprison the original bat and wolf brothers, Marcus and William, in order that he can become Big Chief Pointy Teeth.

Meanwhile, back in the now, Selene and Michael are on the run from the freshly dug up Marcus while Derek Jacobi’s mysterious overseer excavates some sort of mystical ashtray from Bill Nighy’s chest as everyone careers around looking for a plot. Since Viktor is dead and he was supposed to be the bad guy, the one who betrayed Marcus, who seems to want nothing more than to resurrect his werewolf brother, Marcus is the villain for no other reason than the film demands one. But now he must be stopped as well for reasons involving some mumbo, and quite possibly jumbo, about some great truth that’s been discovered to which Selene holds the key. Incoherence is the film’s watchword however, both in terms of the action sequences and especially in plotting. Whiplash flashbacks to the first film are supposed to act as exposition but serve only to confuse further, rendering the first half hour of the film more or less incomprehensible.

Still, it’s better than the original, but in much the same way as being a zombie is better than being dead. The dialogue is ripe in the extreme, with even the imperious Jacobi struggling to get away with some of the lines. For a so called Death Dealer, Selene couldn’t hit a cow in the arse with a banjo when it comes to target practice, preferring instead to spray the scenery with bullets. She’s more adept in close physical combat, but the mutilated editing of these sequences leaves no room for grace or imagination.

On the plus side the blood flows like half price wine and the special effects are frequently astonishing, never more so than during a truck chase/fight between Marcus and our heroes. They’re also ropey as hell from time to time mind you, especially the werewolves. It’s remarkable to think that with all the technological advances and money available, no one has yet to better Rick Baker’s transformations in American Werewolf from a quarter of a century ago. Nor does anyone seem to have developed the wit not to write a scene in which a vampire who has been imprisoned underground for centuries knows how to use a computer. Priceless.

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