Underworld: Evolution

i-13bfdaf5646769743df5e49b3312882d-beckinsale.jpg
Dr Beckinsale visits the Discovery Institute

I saw the movie Underworld: Evolution last night. Stop looking at me like that—it was research. It has the word "evolution" in the title, doesn't it? Besides, I have this idea to improve the promotion of science by having all of our spokespeople be dangerously nubile armed women with good cheekbones, full lips, and very sharp teeth. I figure the two things we've been lacking in our presentations to the public are lust and fear, and if we can just bring those into play, we'll have an unbeatable combination.

As I learned at this movie, too, if you've got gorgeous women and slimy, ravening beasts confronting each other with big guns, nothing in the story has to make any sense at all. There was no plot: instead, there are a series of set-pieces strung together in which Our Heroine is placed in someplace dark, wet, and seedy with a supply of weapons and hapless allies/fang fodder to confront a suitably snouty or batty SFX playtoy. They aren't even consistent in how these conflicts are resolved. Big bad immortal vampires get shot multiple times at point blank range with a shotgun, and shake it off with a snarl; but when Sir Derek Jacobi, following in the fine British tradition of slumming in some well-paying American trash, finds the movie so embarrassingly bad that he has to get out, the movie makers decide that the way to have his immortal character die is to poke him with something pointy, followed by a languorous death scene in which Jacobi completely turns off his ability to act. It was impressively flat, a cinematic vampire death scene that ranks right up there with Pee Wee Herman's in Buffy the Vampire Slayer, yet utterly different.

Somehow this murky, muddled mess of a movie got made, and got people (like, say, me!) to attend. There's a lesson here.

I'm going to have to get a skin-tight vinyl body suit for my next presentation.

I'll let you guess whether I'm trying to inspire lust or fear.

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Dude, don't forget you're a blogger. You could swap out your current profile pic for that one where you look exactly like Kate Beckinsale in "Underworld Evolution".

(Live presentations are so 20th Century!)

Pee Wee Herman's in Buffy the Vampire Slayer

Best. Vampire. Death Scene. Ever.

"I'm going to have to get a skin-tight vinyl body suit for my next presentation."

Dear Lord, I hope you don't mean for *yourself* ...

(Where's my brain bleach?)

By Scott Simmons (not verified) on 18 Feb 2006 #permalink

did it improve on Underworld?

What a difficult question: it depends on your criteria. Presuming that you did not watch the original Underworld for the quality of the acting, the cinematography, the plot, the plausibility of the story, historicity, or any of those traditional cinematic virtues, you may be unfazed at the news that the quality of all of those parameters took a nosedive.

There seemed to be fewer lingering shots of Beckinsale posing or striding purposefully with breasts and buttocks artfully clad in shiny black clothing, but she is briefly nude (breasts carefully obscured however, so calm down). This is probably the only criterion of any value in determining whether the movie was "better".

Underworld evolution, like the first film is an experiement in violence-as-plot. There is no other story ellement present, it's all logistics on how to move bullets around.

Seriously though, I'd love to see a movie that did complex political mechinations with Vampires. a sort of Goth Hamlet.

"if you've got gorgeous women and slimy, ravening beasts confronting each other with big guns, nothing in the story has to make any sense at all...."

You're talking about this...right?:

"The Big Republican 6th District Congressional Debate. We've assembled all four Republicans who want to succeed Mark Kennedy as Congressman. It's the first televised debate in the campaign. Cathy and Eric engage in lively conversation with Michele Bachmann, Jay Esmay, Jim Knoblach and Phil Krinkie."

Skintight vinyl bodysuits aren't for everyone!

By Unstable Isotope (not verified) on 18 Feb 2006 #permalink

"This is the best movie ever - it has a vampire and an explosion!"

-Philip J. Fry

By Sean Foley (not verified) on 18 Feb 2006 #permalink

Skintight vinyl bodysuits aren't for everyone!

Yeah, sure...they say the same thing about speedos. But I've been to the Jersey Shore, and no one pays any attention to that rule.

Seriously though, I'd love to see a movie that did complex political mechinations with Vampires. a sort of Goth Hamlet.

Then we'd have to put up with endless rounds of Masquerade players complaining about how the movie got it wrong.

Trust me, I know. I play Masquerade.

If we had Dr. Olivia Judson in a skintight leather outfit, it would be an unbeatable propaganda coup for the side of evolution. Who could the DI nominate to compete with us? William Dembski?

The time is not yet right (two or three more Underworld movies are needed first), but in the proud tradition of Alien vs. Predator, I look forward to Blade vs. Selene.

Funny or Freudian, I first read that as "dangerously nubile women armed with good cheekbones, full lips, and very sharp teeth"

Not that the difference matters much. :-)

By Torbjorn Larsson (not verified) on 18 Feb 2006 #permalink

You don't know hard it was to keep from typing that one line as "…gorgeous women and slimy, ravening breasts confronting each other…".

You don't know hard it was to keep from typing that one line as "gorgeous women and slimy, ravening breasts confronting each other".

Into the valley of death!

It's moved away from my corner theater. I guess I'll have to get in the car (if the streets are not solid ice-sheets by tomorrow) and see it somewhere else. The picture is worth a thousand words, and you posted one, and now I just have to see it, plot be damned....

So, it's _The Matrix_ and its sequels, with vampires instead of computers?

No, at least intro philosophy students will not forever be bringing up "Underworld Evolution" during discussions of Plato.

"I'll let you guess whether I'm trying to inspire lust or fear."

Why should we limit ourselves? Think of the synergy!

By Phillip Allen (not verified) on 18 Feb 2006 #permalink

I was disappointed in Evolution for a stylistic reason--if you've got vampires and werewolves engaged in a hidden war among us, can't you have them do something more novel than shoot guns at each other? I've seen a hundred movies where two sides run around and shoot guns at each other.

My 3 "best" "friends" dragged me to the movie, knowing that I really can't watch horror films. Obviously, this wasn't horror quite the way the dark places in my brain define it for me, but there were still a few gory scenes I had to close my eyes for.
I had to close my eyes for the dreadful sex scene, too.
To quote Sir Alec Guinness (on Lucas's dialogue): "Frightful rubbish."

Besides the helicopter crashing but NOT BLOWING UP (?!?! what do we go to these things for anyway? Right: exploding helicopters!),

my real problem was the size of the bats.

Near the end, in that ruined castle on the presumed Danube, the scene-setting shots had bats flying around.
Only, they were flying foxes.
??!?!?
How did they get from Indonesia to Hungary? How did they survive the snow, and the utter lack of fruit and nectar most of the year? Were they undead Megachiroptera??? How did the Eastern European vampyres *get* to Indonesia to make undead fruit bats then? How did the lot of them make it back to the lands of the Danube?

My so-called friends hypothesized they were supposed to be crows.
It was DARK out, so, well, NO. Not corvids.

You can't take biologists anywhere.

Oh, it is happening on the Danube in Eastern Europe? I was born on the Danube in Eastern Europe - yet another reason to go and see it, plot AND flying foxes be damned...

Presuming that you did not watch the original Underworld for the quality of the acting, the cinematography, the plot, the plausibility of the story, historicity, or any of those traditional cinematic virtues, you may be unfazed at the news that the quality of all of those parameters took a nosedive.

Is it really possible to do a nosedive off a sidewalk? It would be an impressive contortion.

I haven't seen _Evolution_ yet, but I'm stating right up front that it can't possibly have been worse than _Blade 3_.

Hmm. Odd, I thought it had a plot, but then I had just watched the first one on TV a few days before, so...

Basically, some guy had mutatant children, one turned vamp, the other turned werewolf. The werewolf one went insane and started attacking everyone in sight, so being a complete moron (or good parent?), the father decided to lock the bastard up in a special tomb. The other son, who was almost as big an idiot, decided he didn't like this and wanted to free him.

Now, to keep the free brother from finding the sealed one, the heroine's entire family was wiped out (they built the crypt), only they missed her. She was duped into believing that the werewolves had done it, so spends ceturies killing them for a lie, then ends up falling in love with one, everyone gets pissed. To save him, she does the vamp thing, which makes him a hybred, then ends up killing the folower of the original full vamp (the brother that didn't get locked up), who had been duped by the same into thinking that killing his creator would kill all vamps. Another convenient lie. Trick is, two special parts to a key where hidden on a couple of people, only the brother didn't know exactly who, and he didn't know where, but he could set up a situation that would let him find out and he knew the heroine's blood somehow contained a memory imprint of everything, including the location.

Eventually he gets the key, finds the location from her, but manages to fail to kill her. His father has "both" sets of genes, plus maybe some other odities that even a hybred doesn't have, so he has her drink his blood, making her a super whatever and she goes to hunt down the vamp brother, before he releases the werewolf one. She is too late. Big final battle takes place.

See, it does have a plot. ;) Actually, it wasn't all that bad, but then I don't get as overly critical of movies as some people. lol

And my pre-med students were all shocked when I wore a kilt to class! Can't imagine what they'd make of black vinyl.

I think PZ's a little harsh on the movie. As Kagehi outlines, it does have a plot. It's not too prominent, but it did seem coherent, and it is, after all, an action movie. As far as action movies go, the plot and acting are both up to par. And I have to say the death scene of the vampire at the end involving the helicopter and the knife-through-the-chin was pretty sweet. I went to this movie expecting something hilariously bad, in the mode of Bloodrayne (a deliciously terrible movie, highly recommended, Uwe Boll is the man), but what I got was an ok action flick. I was almost disappointed.

I think Kalkin and Kagehi are right to claim that Underworld: Evolution had a plot. It clearly did have a plot -- the plot being "Kate Beckinsale is, as a vampire, both 'sexy' and 'badass.'" But the other stuff, mutants getting bit by bats and wolves with a Romeo and Juliet story mixed in? All I'm saying is that I didn't notice anything like that going on; I was too busy paying attention to Vampire Beckinsale.

"...I'll let you guess whether I'm trying to inspire lust or fear."

You left off nausea.

You know, just because you have a one-screen cinema in your one-horse town, doesn't mean you're obliged to see every one-theme movie that comes there (I mean geez: I'm walking distance from an 24-plex and I think I see fewer flicks than you do).

Or is there really that little to do in Morris?

Ah, but watching movies in a small town is more of a community experience. My daughter works there, I know most of the people attending...it's very different.

Besides, I just like going to the theater once a week or every few weeks and resting my brain for a bit. And boy, did my brain get a really good nap that night!

"does anyone haveany idea what the heck Leon Wieseltier is flaming about in the Times today?"

" Dennett lives in a world in which you must believe . . . in the omniscience of a white man with a long beard in 19th-century England or in the omniscience of a white man with a long beard in the sky."

That bit was almost funny. Wrong, but funny. Didn't really read that far after that - the quality of writing made my head hurt.

"Seriously though, I'd love to see a movie that did complex political mechinations with Vampires. a sort of Goth Hamlet."

"To bite or not to bite, that is the question:
Whether 'tis nobler in the mind to suffer
The slings and arrows of outrageous fortune,
Or to take teeth against a sea of troubles,
And by opposing end them? To die: to sleep;
No more; and by a sleep to say we end
The heart-ache and the thousand natural shocks
That undead flesh is heir to, 'tis a consummation
Devoutly to be wish'd.

"To sleep: perchance to dream: ay, there's the rub" - because I just know I'm going to have a dream involving flying foxes, slimy, ravening breasts, and Pee Wee Herman in a skin-tight vinyl body suit . . .

Coffee! Where's the coffee?!!

Ah, but watching movies in a small town is more of a community experience. My daughter works there, I know most of the people attending...it's very different.

I remember watching movies as an undergraduate at the college's on-campus movie theater. Now that was a community experience! Of course, every screening in that theater ended up looking like a screening of Rocky Horror, but we sure did have a good time. The movie you reviewed in this post would have been perfect.

As it is, I'll just have to look back with nostalgia at the yearly screening of Heavy Metal at that college theater, because the town I live in now has nothing of the kind.

Darn, that should be 'stakes and alliums of outrageous fortune,' shouldn't it . .

Hey, at least it was better than the first Underworld movie.

By BlueIndependent (not verified) on 18 Feb 2006 #permalink

I'm going to have to get a skin-tight vinyl body suit for my next presentation.

Yabbut, do you have the requisite Very Big B...

Uh-oh.

The contingent carrying on about what "We" have to do to win hearts and minds might consider competetive male striptease; it's the only stunt they haven't ordered yet. It echoes pretty well the stuff I see in The Nation and such places about what the Dems/libs/greenies/etc. ~have~ to do to bum-rush the Bushies. It's a tiresome sort of rhetoric that all smacks of "women's magazines" and their flogging of just the right new wardrobe or scent or hairdo or conversational patter to inspire the lifelong lust of your dreamboat highschool quarterback.

Which is not meant to imply that I don't think you should teach classes in skintight black vinyl, you understand.

As Bobcat Goldthwait once said:

"I made POLICE ACADEMY III because I felt there were so many unanswered questions in the first two."