Saturday, January 28


Selene returns to kick Lara Croft's butt.

The first Underwold film was a slick piece of work- while it was often mentioned as a Matrix-wannabee, it did have a cool concept (Vampires fighting Werewolves), nice production values and visuals and the singular genius of having the radiantly gorgeous Kate Beckinsale as the leather-clad vampire warrior, Selene. Apparently, while the first UW was a modest success in theaters, it was a relatively low budget film that suddenly had a big pay-off in DVD sales. As a result, the title gets a new lease on life and a chance for bigger things with the sequel, Underworld: Evolution (which has since gone on to become the number one film at the US box office).

Evolution kicks off right after the events of the first film. In fact, it mops up the loose ends from before quite bloodily quick. But before we actually get into the current affairs, Evo opens up with a flashback to the 12th century. There, we see a small army of vampires in Lord of the Rings-like armor (a bit like vampire elves, actually- which is quite cool) taking on a village infected by the Lycan breed. We learn of the origing of the two warring races, and in particular the fates of the two brothers who started it all- the prime vampire Marcus, and the head werewolf, WIlliam.

The action then shoots back to the present, as Selene and her half-lycan/half vampire lover Michael (Scott Speedman) are on the run. Their opposition, however, quickly changes from ordinary gun-slinging vampire goons to the now-awakened, mutated Vampire Elder, Marcus (Tony Curran), who has his own evil agenda. In order to survive AND stop the world from being consumed by mad vampire/lycan mutants, Selene and Scott will have to ally with a mysterious third party and risk it all for the sake of the future. They must evolve... or die.

This is a pretty slick and well done action film, though I have to say that you need to watch the first film to really make heads or tails of it all. The names and events just fly at you as fast as the flash edits.

Still, the action is quite easy to understand, and the bad guys are pretty easy to see. The production values are more ambitious this time around (more and bigger werewolves with niftier transformations), thanks to a bigger budget, and the film retains the blood and blue look of the first. Performance-wise, Miss Beckinsale's Selene is an awesome action heroine (she could give Angelina Jolie a run for her money)... did I say she was darn gorgeous? I'll say it again. Selene is HOT. Oh, and girls get Michael- Scott Speedman's reluctant superwolf/vamp is pretty kick ass. The two make a great, perfect couple and a subtle cheer for mixed race relations.

All in all, Underworld: Evolution is a worthy sequel/climax to the original film, ending with a pretty optimistic view. The next film in this series, if director Len Wiseman has his way, will supposedly be a prequel showing more of the history of the ancient vampire/lycan war.

While there are some rough spots, I certainly liked Underworld Evolution enough to try and find the first film again and watch it, and have this sequel on DVD when I can. An exceptionally cool franchise which gets a shot in the arm with this hot sequel. Again, I recommend watching the first film before heading to the theaters to catch this bloody good action flick.

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