Underworld: Evolution is the 2006 action film, and is the sequel to the film 2003 film Underworld. Evolution follows the newly turned vampire/Lycan hybrid Michael (Scott Speedman), as well as the vampire Selene (Kate Beckinsale), following the aftermath of what happened throughout the first film. It takes place directly following the death of Viktor, and introduces Marcus as the new villain. Very early on, Kraven is killed off, and Marcus eventually goes on a hunt for two keys, hoping that finding them will allow him to rescue his long captured Lycan brother.
I really liked the first Underworld. It had a well thought out back-story, a good plot, exciting action scenes and interesting characters. In Evolution, the character I disliked the most, Kraven, is killed off really early on. Just given this, Evolution seems like it’ll be an improvement on its predecessor. It does not, however, live up to its name. Evolution is not an improvement over Underworld, nor does it really even come close. It still looks nice, and it is shot in a very similar style to the first, but it is missing a lot of what made the first movie fun to watch.
To begin with, the plot is almost non-existent when compared with the first one. It doesn’t really play much of a role; in fact, it’s almost there solely to give the characters something to do. Seeing as how Michael is now a hybrid, he’s basically an unstoppable creature. In order to combat this, we need another hybrid. Enter Marcus, who got some Lycan blood right at the end of the last movie. For reasons that are never explained, Marcus actually looks somewhat like a bat. He has wings, and large ears. Why don’t any other vampires transform like him? One could assume that this is because he is revealed to be the first vampire in existence, but then you remember that all the Lycans still transform. Why is there a difference? I would have thought that he would have looked more like a Lycan than anything else, given the fact that he was awakened with Lycan blood.
Speaking of blood, we are shown early on that Michael requires it in order to keep up his strength. Like the entire back-story of the first movie, this is forgotten about quite quickly. After the one instance where he is shown to need blood, he never does again. He keeps full strength for the rest of the movie, and never requires to feed again. This could have led to some dramatic events in the final act, but instead is left untouched for 3/4 of the film. Instead, we end up with a sloppy mess of an action scene for the film’s climax.
As a matter of fact, almost all of the action scenes are a mess. They’re still shot wonderfully, and they look good, but nothing never really comes out of them. People get shot, people lose limbs, and a lot of CGI blood flies out of them. That’s really about it. There aren’t really all that many action sequences either. The film mostly involves Selene and Michael running from place to place, trying to avoid being caught by Marcus.
In terms of characters, Evolution does at least make them interesting at face value. There actually seemed to be less dialogue and character building than in Underworld, so most of the characters need to be looked at just by their actions, and nothing more. Selene’s character is only slightly less cold than before, and Michael still appears to be a fairly useless character. Despite being as strong as anyone else, Michael’s most defining action in the film is throwing paint at a window, in order to block out the sun for Selene. I mean, sure he’s physically strong, and he gets to be in a few monster fights, but his character is basically just a weakling. Selene always takes the lead, and Michael only does things when told to, or the situation calls for it. This does not mean that the actors are not doing their job.
Despite being given very little to work with, they actually don’t do a bad job. The worst actor from the previous entry in the series was Shane Brolly, playing Kraven. Thankfully, he gets very little screen time, being killed off rather early on. Beckinsale and Speedman carry the majority of the film, and don’t do a bad job. Speedman especially seemed to have improved since the last film, even though it seemed like he was on-screen far less.
Overall, Underworld: Evolution seems like a rushed project. Without giving anything away, the ending felt as if they were afraid of making a sequel, so instead decided to cram everything they could within the two hours they were given. The result is of far lower quality than its predecessor. The action scenes are fewer and are a bigger mess, while the story takes a back-seat to nothing really important. A lot of the plot points that do get brought up are full of holes, and ultimately don’t make all that much sense. The acting is still fine, and the film still looks great, but there just isn’t all that much there to be entertaining.