A and A's Movie A Day

Watching movies until we run out.

Movie 273 – Underworld: Evolution

Underworld: Evolution – November 28th, 2010

Tonight we continue our vampire movie trilogy with the second Underworld movie. I hadn’t seen this one before (and I haven’t seen tomorrow’s either) so I was curious to see how things would pick up after the first. After all, there’s so much backstory in the first movie, so there’s plenty to work with in a sequel. And work with it they did! Except working with it also meant more backstory. It’s a backstory bonanza! Again, to the detriment of the actual in-movie plot.

Not that I have a problem with the actual plot, but there’s just so much crammed in here and the movie is only so long. This isn’t The Lord of the Rings. No one was going to sit through a three hour long vampire action flick. So things get glossed over and characters get short shrift and there’s some muddy storytelling. But overall it does feel like they had a good idea here and a nice big world and they cared enough to really try and create something epic in tone. It falls a little flat in places, but as with the first movie, there’s a sense of scale and history that I think give the movie a great mood.

When it comes to atmosphere, this movie and its predecessor are really very similar. It’s the same basic feeling to the world, where the vampires are haughty and entitled and the lycans are downtrodden and angry, and they all exist in a world apart from that of regular humans. What’s nice here is that the conflict between them, the reasons for it, and the repercussions of the first movie all get dealt with in a way that relates to that division of worlds. The first vampire and first werewolf are revealed to be brothers, and their father has been keeping tabs on them for centuries, watching and keeping the fights of their species as remote from humanity as possible.

Fortunately for this movie, the worldbuilding, with the conflict between the two brothers and the consequences of their actions being the basis of the plot, flows a little better than the worldbuilding in the first movie. I had some issues last night with the worldbuilding taking precedence and therefore forcing the movie’s story to get messy. And there is messiness here too. Sloppy things like the magical repair of Selene and Michael’s Land Rover (or the equally magical appearance of another one after their first gets smashed up in a remote location). I don’t think that the werewolf brother got nearly the time he should have. The sex scene felt shoehorned in where something more suitable to the rest of the movie could have been. The whole thing with vampires being able to absorb the memories of the people whose blood they drink? Why on earth would you ever leave someone behind who knew anything of value if you knew the guy chasing you could do that? And I wanted more made of Markus’ hybrid status.

This, I think, is my biggest complaint (bigger than the romance, and I really wasn’t fond of that – it’s sort of like the Star and Michael scene in The Lost Boys – I get the point but I don’t really need to see them in bed). At the end of the first movie one of the lycans is killed over Markus’ crypt. His blood seeps down into the crypt, awakening Markus and turning him into a hybrid with unheard-of powers and strength. And while he does make for a super bad guy, with his creepy bat nose and giant wings and talons, the fact that he’s a hybrid, and that’s where those powers came from, barely enters into things. He could just have been a super old vampire by the time the climactic fight scenes happen. After all, his brother, the first lycan, is permanently wolf-like and seemingly super powerful. More so than most lycans. So why wouldn’t the first vampire be similar? If they weren’t going to make any fuss over him being a hybrid, why bother doing it? It just ends up being messy. I’d guess it was so no one could argue that Michael with his super hybrid powers should be able to overpower a plain vampire, but well. Viktor almost got him. It was Selene who saved the day then. And she does it here too. I just wish the worldbuilding done with the hybrid stuff had actually played into things here for more than Michael. It’s the proverbial gun that doesn’t go off.

Still, there was a lot I liked about this movie. As I said, I much enjoyed the worldbuilding and backstory. I still love Selene and Michael got to do more than run this time, which was nice. I liked his growing realization that he’s not human anymore and that he’s going to have to adapt to a whole new way of life. He’s going to have to follow new rules and use the powers he’s got. It was a good development for his character. And Selene continues to be a bad ass, fully capable of kicking butt and holding her own. I loved Alexander Covrinus, though I do have to wonder how they got Derek Jacobi involved in this movie. Still, however they did it he has a great presence for the role of the ultimate patriarch in this world. My other favorite new character was Tanis, the exiled vampire historian. For one, I have a fondness for Stephen Mackintosh. For two, I love a librarian in any form. For three, go action research! He was a fun grey area character, playing both sides and keeping his little library in rather comfortable exile. I also liked that there was less dithering around. People find out new information and then they go and do something with it.

I don’t know if I liked this movie better than the first one or worse. Probably they’re about equal overall, but for different reasons. I admit, I’m very curious about the third movie, which I believe is a prequel. Hopefully it will take care of my desire for more attention to be paid to the lycans, and maybe it will feel balanced, since it won’t be doing the backstory/present day thing. I am nervous about the fourth movie mentioned on Wikipedia as being in pre-production, but who knows if that’ll even go far enough for me to worry about it. We’ll see.

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November 28, 2010 - Posted by | daily reviews | , , , ,

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