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There is a slang expression people often use when trying to say that something is bad. The phrase is, it sucks. It seems painfully inappropriate to use this phrase in relation to a vampire movie, yet in the case of Underworld: Evolution we have no choice but to say that it sucks. Why? Good question...
As stated in our previous review, the original Underworld is nothing short of a masterpiece. So how could a sequel relying on largely the same cast and the same director be so bad that we would say that it sucks? The answer is a little complicated and before we get there we should talk about the good things. The movie does get some things right, it's nowhere near as horrendous as certain other movies.
For starters, the acting is just as good as it was in the original Underworld. Kate Beckinsale reprises her lead role as Selene and several members of the cast of Underworld return (briefly; see below), and they all do a pretty good job. We also see a few new characters, primarily the new lead villain, Marcus, played by Tony Curran who gives a very good performance. The visual style is also retained and the soundtrack is okay as well. Furthermore, if there's one thing the movie does really well it's the action. We get some well choreographed action scenes just like in the original. At its heart, Underworld was just an action movie about vampires and werewolves, so, if we get good action scenes with good visuals and good acting, what could be so wrong? The answer is: the script.
While the story of the original Underworld was simple, it was very well told and was captivating enough to keep the viewers interested. In the sequel it feels much less so. The story is that Marcus, one of the vampire overlords is awakaned by the blood of a lycan, becoming a very powerful hybrid creature in the process, and he goes on a killing spree as he tries to free his brother William, the first werewolf, while Selene tries to stop him. Again, a simple story but this time it's not very well told. It feels like something that was rushingly put together to provide for something that can hold the action scenes together. The well presented dark gothic atmopshere of the original is very much lacking in this movie from the story side, as well as the character side, which is Underworld: Evolution's biggest flaw.
Here we need to go into spoliers (highlight the hidden text ro read). Underworld: Evolution features very few support cast alongside Selene and Marcus. Michael Corvin returns from the first film as does Kraven, Viktor, and Amelia. The latter two appear only in a short flashback, which is understandable. Kraven however, who was pretty much set up to be a lead villain by the ending of the original Underworld, gets killed off surprisingly fast after the first five minutes while Michael, who is supposed to be the lead male of the movie, comes across rather weak, especially for a hybrid lycan-vampire. Other than these we get a handful of new characters such as Alexander Corvinus, the immortal ancestor of the lycans and vampires, who gets killed off after about 5-10 minutes of accumulated screen time. We also get the very intriguing character of Andreas Tanis, the scribe of the vampires (portrayed excellently by Stephen Mackintosh) who gets killed off after 2 scenes which certainly don't last any more than 10 minutes. Do you see the pattern?
Basically what we get here is the very opposite of the first movie. While Underworld relied heavily on the largely varied cast of characters to help establish the atmosphere and help make the world come alive, here the majority of them are reduced to filler status, either getting killed after at most 10 minutes of screen time or forced to fade into obscurity. This entire movie is basically a duel between Selene and Marcus with the other characters barely being part of the whole thing. Unfortunately this gets old very quickly and the viewers can find themselves bored after the first half of the movie. The end result is a bland movie which could have been very good with a decent script and a better structured story (especially one that does a better job with its support cast).
In summary, while Underworld was a masterpiece of an action flick, the sequel comes across as a bland piece where the only redeeming quality to be had is the good visuals and the decent action (and the good acting, which is sadly wasted in this movie due to the lazy script). So, unless you're desperately craving more action with vampires and werewolves, stay away from this movie. Even if you really want more action involving vampires and lycans, you're better off watching the original Underworld again. Alternatively, you can watch Rise of the Lycans, the second sequel to Underworld, which we will review next week. That review will fortunately be much more positive than this one.
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