Rated: R :: Released: 20 January 2006
Director: Len Wiseman :: Starring: Kate Beckinsale, Scott Speedman, Tony Curran and Bill Nighy
By Cash Melville
30 January 2006 — So, you like blood, guts, smashed heads and other assorted stab wounds and bloody things? Then you'll probably dig Underworld: Evolution. I managed to go out and catch it the day it opened, and figured you people could use a review of sorts from the local horror-loving kid. I'm going to attempt to structure this review for all the different categories of people who would read this thing:
01. People who saw the first one and liked it.
02. People who saw the first one and didn't like it.
03. People who haven't seen the first movie before.
Seems simple in theory, but we'll see how it plays out in execution. You can even skip the parts that don't apply to you and get to what you want to read!
People who haven't seen the first movie
You are the people that the movie industry really wants to rope in. In a perfect world, you'll know enough about the first to:
01. Be willing to see this one.
02. Follow along without asking, "Who's that," and another movie-interrupting questions.
Afterwards you'll hopefully be curious about those little things you didn't grasp to go and buy the DVD of the first.
So, did they successfully do that? I'd have to say so.
As with any modern sequel, the movie started with a big intro to the whole Underworld universe. There is scrolling text that explains the history of the lycans and vampires, and how their relationship came to be. What it does leave out is how they eventually wound up going to war, which is something that you can find in the first movie. They then flash through the whole backstory to show you what actually did happen in the last movie, but some key issues are omitted — and you should definitely check out the first movie to fill in the blanks.
As the story progresses, there are tons of back references to the first and I could see someone who hasn't seen it getting confused about 30 minutes in. Questions will come up where you will wonder how in the hell this person is related to that person, and how in the bloody hell they came to meet one another. As the movie progresses, however, you'll understand the characters well enough to be able to do the typical "empathize", "hate" and "that character bugs me" thing for this movie — like we do for every movie.
Ultimately, if you're curious about seeing the movie, you should make an effort to see the first one beforehand. I know most people think of that, but there are plenty of people in the world that go out and see sequels and expect them to be stand alone movies. Sometimes that pans out, but, in this case, it wouldn't really be best for your moviegoing experience.
One of the interesting things about the Underworld series is that people either love it or hate it; there really isn't a middle ground. So you should at least see which side you fall on. Can you make it through the sequel without having seen the first? Sure, I think so. Can you make it through Evolution without having seen the first and understand what's going on? Sure, I think so. Can you make it through this one without having seen the first and fully understand and appreciate what is going on? Not a chance. (For instance, the ending of Underworld: Evolution ties into the previous movie.)
It really boils down to this: rent the first one, and, if you like it, come back to this review and see what your next course of action should be.
People Who Saw the First One and Hated It
So, you've seen the first movie and hated it! What should you do? Don't even try it; you'll be wasting your money. Evolution is kind of inferior to the first one and I just don't see someone who disliked the first movie liking this one either. Though you could go back and give the first one a try again, and then you might like it — but that's your own choice.
Then again, maybe something about the trailer enticed you, and made you think that this one will be better. In that case, go see it. You never know, you might find yourself as part of a small group that wound up liking the sequel more than the original.
People Who Saw the First One and Loved It
For all of you who haven't seen the first movie, beware of continuing past here because there will be spoilers from the first movie. For people who don't want spoilers from the second movie, I'm going to keep them out for another section. I'm pretty nice, aren't I?
So, you've seen Selene chop Victor's head in half. You've seen Michael go into hybrid-mode and you loved watching him just go utterly Terminator on everyone. You've wondered since 2003 what the heck was up with the eyes at the end (well, you probably knew, but the anticipation of where it would go was killing you). Well, then you're ready for the second movie because it continues right where the original Underworld left off. The backstory is continually referenced and you actually get quite the history lesson from this movie — and when I say history, I mean back to when Markus and Victor were fighting against the very first lycans. People that we didn't see in the first movie but heard about are finally shown, and that question is answered about the blood leaking into Markus' mouth and reawakening him.
The only difference between the two movies is that this one has a more "personal" feel to it, whereas the first had a very "worldly" or "epic" feel. What I mean by that is only at the end of the first Underworld does it get really personal for Selene and everyone else. For the most part, the issue is between the two forces: lycans and vampires. Underworld: Evolution, on the other hand, is completely about Selene and her being the "only hope." The love story between her and Michael continues throughout, and you even get to see just how powerful Michael really is — and let me tell you, he's a powerful mamma-jamma. More characters are introduced and amongst them is a historian, which means even more backstory. (I actually think that the second movie is inferior to the original, but it does a lot to really enhance the first if you enjoyed it.)
If you loved the first movie, then you'll like the second one — maybe even love it. If you liked the first one, then this might be a hit or miss for you. The second is more about the bloody action and less about the plot. Its strength over the first is that it doesn't try and fit a three-hour story into a two-hour block. There aren't as many plot devices, and it's pretty straight forward on what they're trying to accomplish. The real treat is that up until the end, I didn't know what the actual ending was going to be. Heck, walking out, I wasn't exactly sure what the ending actually meant and I love movies like that.
Fight-wise, this one is probably a little better as well, but the one thing that I was disappointed they left out was the little nuance of Selene jumping from high places, landing and walking like it was one fluid motion. I can't describe why I liked it so much, other than to say I like when characters have certain little traits such as that. There's actually probably more blood and gore in this movie, especially with the addition of Markus who is just freaking stupidly mean. Don't forget about completely pointless nudity either! If you're okay with your kid seeing heads blown up but you're not okay with boobies (or a pretty graphic sex scene), then you shouldn't take the kiddies.
So, the basic idea is that if you liked the first, go give the second a try and view it as just a continuance of the first movie. They're basically one movie anyway. Don't hype yourself up like it's going to be this gift from God though; over-hyping yourself for a movie only means you'll wind up being let down. And nobody wants that.