Underworld: Evolution (2006)
By: Lauren Monaghan on January 31, 2007  |  Comments  |  Bookmark and Share
Sony (Australia). Region 4, PAL. 2.40:1 (16:9 enhanced). English DD 5.1. Subtitles. English, English (FHI) 102 minuutes
The Movie
Director: Len Wiseman
Starring: Kate Beckinsale, Scott Speedman, Tony Curran, Derek Jacobi
Screenplay: Danny McBride, Len Wiseman
Music: Marco Beltrami
Country: USA
Underworld: Evolution. A tale of vampires, werewolves and their love of all things bloody and leather clad. Good times!

The sequel to Len Wiseman's directorial debut Underworld, the action-fest that is Evolution picks up right where its predecessor left off. Vampire knock-out Selene and her be-fanged and be-furred hybrid buddy Michael are on the run, Selene having just – quite literally – offed the current head of the vampiric clan for his various misdeeds. Making matters worse, this kafuffle at bloodsucker headquarters has awoken the powerful Marcus, who is both the true source of the vampire bloodline, and now a newly initiated vampire/werewolf hybrid.

Waking up on the wrong side of the sarcophagus after years in hibernation, an angry Marcus is looking to locate his brother William, who is incidentally the head of the lycan bloodline, and who has spent the better part of his immortality imprisoned by the vampires in a top-secret location. Though releasing William from his captivity will surely spell doom for humanity and vampires alike in big, blood spattered letters, Marcus will stop at nothing to be reunited with his kin – and unfortunately for Selene, the vampiress appears to hold the key to this big family reunion.

Quite honestly, it's all a bit confusing (and coherent thought isn't exactly helped by all the body hugging leather and bare skin), but strangely enough, the at times perplexing plot doesn't lessen the enjoyability of this particular film. No, never mind the intricacies of its storyline – Underworld: Evolution is an enjoyable movie just to look at. And not just because of the enticing Kate Beckinsale as Selene, or the perpetually-shirtless Scott Speedman as Michael.

For starters, it's hard to describe the look and feel of the film without using the word 'beautiful'… but for the sake of this site's reputation I'll settle for the hopefully more reserved and less gushy sounding 'striking' instead. The movie is striking. From the sets and costumes, right down to the lighting and framing – everything works together ridiculously well to create a stunningly dark and rich world for the film's characters to play in.

Then there is of course the bone-crunching, head-shish-kabob-ing action that Evolution is packed with from start to finish. There really isn't a dull moment in this movie, with your attention always held, be it by a down and dirty, fist and fangs scuffle, a machine gun shoot-out or a medieval sword-clanging, head-rolling battle. And the action of the groiny kind is pretty alright as well.

As for the special effects, much like the first film, the Underworld sequel really surprises with its quality and believability in this department. Not the CG-fest you might expect, the movie makes the most of practical gags, prosthetics and miniatures every chance it gets, resorting to the computer work only when really necessary, and even then, blending it in nicely with the physical stuff.

The character of Marcus is particularly impressive makeup and effects wise, and even the werewolves… aren't as lame as they could be. The film also has plenty of nicely worked blood and guts moments, particularly when creatured-out Michael feels the need to tear into things as though they were nothing more than tiny tins of Spaghetti-Os.

And finally, a little touch to look out for is the splatters of blood hitting the camera during some of the early fights – just a little extra something special that helps drive the action home, and for some reason puts a little smile on this reviewer's face.
Presented in 2.40:1 Widescreen, this beautiful…scratch that, this striking film is dark, rich and big with the heavy blue overtones. It looks amazing.
Crisp and clear, the Dolby Digital 5.1 audio really helps bring the film to life.
Extra Features
This disc is featurette-city! There are six short yet reasonably substantial pieces included in the release (all but one over 10 minutes in length), including Bloodlines, about how the movie progressed from words on paper to the action we see on screen, and The Hybrid Theory, which is an interesting look at the special effects of the film – namely how practical and computer generated elements were worked together in its making. It's actually a nice opportunity to see the appreciation the creative team has for doing stuff the old fashioned way.

The other featurettes include Making Monsters Roar (on the creature effects), The War Rages On (stunts), Building a Saga (production design),and Music and Mayhem (about the audio elements).

There's also an audio commentary track to listen to, with director Len Wiseman and a bunch of other people involved in the movie. At first it's kind of entertaining, as far as commentaries go, but it soon degenerates into a repetitive game of 'Point out the practical effect! Point out where a miniature was used!'.

Trailers for When A Stranger Calls, Dirty, The James Bond Ultimate Collection, Fear Itself: Dark Memories, Second In Command, Final Fantasy VII: Advent Children, and Waiting, along with a and a music video performed by performed by Atreyu make up the rest of the additionals.
The Verdict
While not always the easiest movie to follow plot-wise, Underworld: Evolution is still an entertaining and visually captivating piece of work. A worthy sequel and the perfect excuse to ponder the finer points of leather catsuits.
Movie Score
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