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:: Underworld: Evolution

Am I alone in thinking that this film is better than the original? Don’t get me wrong, Underworld: Evolution hardly reinvents the wheel, but then, nor does it try to. Evolution picks up from where the first film left off with vampire warrior Selene (Kate Beckinsdale) having defeated her traitorous nemesis, Viktor (Bill Nighy), but still searching for the truth about her ancestry. She is joined once again by Michael (Scott Speedman), the Lycan (werewolf) hybrid, who is also trying to trace his own bloodlines. Together the pair must wage war against the duelling tribes in an effort to restore law and order to the Underworld and unlock their secret pasts.

I nearly fell asleep in the first film, but Evolution is faster and sleeker than its predecessor; the movie kicks off with an action-packed opening sequence and the pace rarely lets up from there. Levels of gore and violence are high throughout; so high, in fact, that a number of grossed-out audience members walked out of the preview (queasy viewers, beware!)

I was pleased that Evolution opened with a brief synopsis of what had occurred in the previous film; the uninitiated would have been able to pick up on the story quite easily and I, for one, appreciated a refresher after having been thoroughly confused by the first film!

The cast perform well overall, though I still think that Beckinsdale is too much of an English rose to be taken seriously as an ass-kicking heroine, and Scott Speedman will never stop being Ben from Felicity to me. Derek Jacobi lends the film some dramatic weight with his turn as Corvinus, father of the evil twins Marcus and William who spawned the whole Lycan/Death Dealer (Vampire) feud some 800 years ago.

Director Len Wiseman depends too heavily on special effects at times and whilst the CGIs and fight scenes are impressive, one often gets the sense that this is to make up for the lack of plot development in the film. Thankfully, Wiseman learned from his overlong previous effort and shaved fifteen minutes off the running time, making Evolution a respectable and well-paced 106 minutes. Despite some important questions being answered at the film’s end, resolution is never concrete in Underworld and, though I engaged with this film more than the original, I won’t be holding my breath for the next instalment.