A and A's Movie A Day

Watching movies until we run out.

Underworld Evolution

November 28, 2010

Underworld Evolution

There were three years between when the first Underworld film came out on DVD and when the second one did. This may explain why, when I first bought Evolution and put it in to watch it, I had to stop and go find the first Underworld movie so I could watch that first. There’s a short opening block of text and a voice-over by Kate Beckinsale, but the movie definitely supposes a foreknowledge of the characters and plot of the first movie.

This movie concentrates on two brothers: Marcus, the last surviving elder from Selene’s coven, and William, his unfortunate lycanthropic brother. There’s an action-filled prologue which sets the stage way back in the middle ages. Marcus, Viktor and Amelia are armored werewolf hunters who come across a village that William has slaughtered. Even as they start to burn the unfortunate victims they begin to awaken and transform into unstoppable half-wolves that pull the vampire brigade from their horses. Finally the vampires confront and capture William himself – a snow-white lycanthrop who seems twice as large as any of the others.

I enjoy this prologue for a number of reasons. For one thing it’s nice to see Bill Nighy again since his Viktor is one of my favorite things about the first movie. Having him here in this flashback goes a long way towards convincing me that this movie is very solidly in the same universe as the first one. The other thing this prologue does well is set the bar for the action in this movie.

I would say that this is a much more action-heavy movie than the first Underworld. Not that the first movie lacked action, but it had to lay down a lot of the ground rules for the Underworld universe and introduce all the characters and warring factions. This movie hits the ground running and has all the setup done in advance. There aren’t many plot twists or revelations like those towards the end of the first movie, it’s just a straight forward action movie set up. Present us with the stakes (the danger of an unchecked incursion of medieval feral lycans who cannot even turn back to human form – or worse a plague of lycan/vampire hybrids) and introduce the factions involved, then let them slug it out through a series of increasingly loud battles.

The biggest addition to the mystique of this movie is the introduction of a big secret paramilitary organization of humans who have been keeping tabs on happenings at Selene’s coven. They remind me a lot of the Watchers from the Highlander TV series – they know everything that’s going on but they don’t interfere and they clean up the mess afterwards. They are headed by a mysterious but noble figure played by Derek Jacobi. He actually does turn out to have something to do with the whole plot involving the two brothers, and of course he also provides Selene with a lot of cannon fodder for the final confrontation with Marcus.

I don’t feel that this movie has the same charm as the first one. The characters aren’t as deep and the story isn’t as interesting. But it feels very much a part of the same world, and I enjoy it on that level. It also is a far more action oriented movie. Indeed it’s more adult and R-rated in every way. There’s a ton more blood. There’s a little nudity and sensuality. But mostly it’s just big action scene after big action scene. Kate gets to flex her muscles as an action superstar, which is a lot of fun to watch, and there’s a ton of fun effects and make-up work on the lycans and Marcus. This movie is more eye-candy than the first one, but shallower. I’m quite curious now to see just what the third movie – the prequel – is all about.

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

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