Thursday, January 26, 2012

Underworld: Evolution (2006)

Though the movie's five years old and I don't think it's necessary to say so: spoilers for Underworld: Evolution below.

Underworld: Evolution continues the story of the first film in a couple of significant ways. I mean, as opposed to Rise of the Lycans, which just fills in details about a bunch of stuff you already know. It would've been easy to just remake Underworld and call it Underworld 2, but director Len Wiseman and screenwriter Danny McBride (not that Danny McBride) showed that they were more interested in building a longer story. So we learn more details about the history of the vampires and werewolves while also getting to see Selene grow some more.

There was a line or two in Underworld about all the vampires and werewolves being descended from one person (who also had a human son: the ancestor of Scott Speedman's character) and Evolution makes that the focus of its story. The remaining vampire lord, Marcus was the first vampire and when he awakens at the end of Underworld, the fracturing of vampire society sends him looking for his brother, William, the first werewolf. Apparently Marcus and Viktor were sort of keeping each other in check (presumably with the third vampire lord, Amelia weighing in on Viktor's side), so with Viktor and Amelia dead, Marcus is free to release William and damn the consequences. William is apparently mad and would destroy the world or something. The script is pretty loose with motivations, which is its biggest flaw. At any rate, unfortunately for Selene, she unknowingly holds the key (literally and figuratively) to William's location and Marcus is perfectly willing to kill her to learn it.

As she and Michael run from Marcus and uncover details about his plan (and about the mysterious man played by Derek Jacobi who's also tracking the situation for his own, secret reasons), they continue and build on the relationship they started in Underworld. There's still not a lot of chemistry between the actors, but I'm still willing to read that as their learning to trust each other. Not that they don't trust each other - they're clearly beyond the suspicious stage - it's just that neither is sure what to expect from their relationship. When something bad happens to Michael and Selene loses it, it's a nice bit of acting by Kate Beckinsale, but it seems over-the-top next to the lack of emotion she's shown about him up to that point. I'm not going to accuse Beckinsale of bad acting, so I'm gonna read that as her surprising herself by how much she cares about and needs him. By the end of the movie, they actually do feel like a couple, so Selene has learned to rely on Michael more than she did in the first film.

Selene also goes through a different kind of growth in Evolution. The movie's sub-title doesn't just refer to the evolution of vampire and werewolf society, but also to physical changes in Selene. It'll be interesting to see how Awakening deals with that.

More than that though, I'm curious to see how they're going to deal with Scott Speedman's absence. I would have liked another film with him in it to get comfortable with Selene and Michael as a couple before they're split apart, but I'm keeping an open mind about his not being there. Hopefully, that will further Selene's growth as a character in some way. I've avoided spoilers for Awakening (though I'll have seen it by the time this posts), but I'm curious about India Eisley's character and her relationship with Selene. There were far too many shots of Beckinsale's belly during Evolution's sex scene to just be about how gorgeous it is. She was totally pregnant at the end of Evolution and I suspect that Eisley is playing her daughter. That's not a spoiler; just my own theory. By the time this posts, I'll know if I'm right.

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