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UNDERWORLD EVOLUTION, 2006
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UNDERWORLD: EVOLUTION (2006)
Movie Review
Directed by Len Wiseman
Starring: Kate Beckinsale, Scott Speedman, Tony Curran
Review by Jen Frankel



SYNOPSIS:

Vampire / hunter Selene discovers that the key to ending the war between Vampire and Werewolf clans may be locked inside her own memories.

REVIEW:

In the pre-Dion years, it never would have occurred to me that a character could be called "Celine." And she isn't here either; Kate Beckinsale returns in Underworld: Evolution as the far more appropriately named Selene. Like the moon goddess for whom she is named, Selene haunts the night, a vampire "death dealer."

This time, she is accompanied from the start by Michael (Scott Speedman), the vampire/werewolf hybrid who is neither one thing or the other and to whom Selene herself muses, "You could have limitless power."

That would be good, because ancient vampire Marcus has plans to release his brother William, the first of the werewolves.

Evolution is exactly what it should be - equally packed with action and high emotion. The energy barely stops from start to finish, which leaves little time for dramatic scenes. Still, the range of emotion and the stakes are significant, and more than enough to make this film deeper and more satisfying than most.

It's also great that the plot itself relies on both a continuation of the unfinished threads from the first film and an unexpectedly revealed secret that has been present from the start.

Bill Nighy reprises his role as vampire elder Viktor in flashback here. He's always a treat with his cadaverous "should have been a Rolling Stone" face and sonorous delivery. Those who miss Viktor will be glad to see he's starring in the Underworld prequel Rise of the Lycans.

Going to be fun to see Michael Sheen return to his role as the aristocratic Lucian after his recent turn as Nixon interviewer David Frost.

In Evolution, Kate Beckinsale is as wonderful as always, a truly gifted actress who holds her own in the big action flicks (although both she and Hugh Jackman were undermined by a terrible script in the weak Van Helsing). It's a tragedy that there are no regular dramatic roles available for her apparently, and that when she crosses out of genre she ends up as the useless wife in Click.

I love Tony Curran (Marcus) but really doubt here that he has the power and charisma to be the leader of the clan. He's better in makeup, not a good sign.

Scott Speedman is strong and effective as the cross-bred Michael. Their growing love is the lynchpin of the film, and what keeps us cheering for them to prevail, but it's really Kate's show.

It's always amazing how the blockbuster sci-fi and horror flicks manage to attract some of the best actors on the planet. Here, Derek Jacobi ("Sir" if you please) brings his gravity to the role of the father of both the supernatural races, Corvinus.

All in all, Evolution is a terrific, fun flick with lots of unique gore and terrific makeup effects. Marcus's killing methods are cringe-worthy, and you wait for him to reappear just for the sake of his exotic execution style.

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But it's the fact you really care about Selene and Michael's survival, and remain curious about what can possibly come of their relationship, that really keeps you enthralled.

And yeah, I can't wait to see what "Rise of the Lycans" may bring, besides the anticipated return of Sheen and Nighy.

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