Monday, January 23, 2006

Movie Review: Underworld Evolution

Underworld came and went so quickly at my local multiplex that we missed it before we even knew it was out. I couldn't wait for it to come out on DVD and it has since become an essential part of my DVD collection. I'm still trying to justify to my wife that we need to get the extended version, but she's never been too keen on us having two versions of the same film. Still, not wanting to make the same mistake twice, we made sure we got to see this latest chapter in the war between Vampires and Lycans on opening night.

I had mixed feelings going into this. I love the first film, it's brilliant, but that left me with a mixture of high expectations and dread where the second film was concerned. I know the creators always envisioned this as a trilogy from the start, but could they stick to that vision given the higher budget that the success of the first film brought?

The answer is a categorical YES! This film can immediately take it's place among a select elite of films - it's a sequel that's better than the first film. Basically, every element of the first film that was good is built upon and improved. The stage has already been set, so there's no time wasted here. The film picks up literally seconds after the original ends. It's a true sequel, not a rehash just to cash in on the first film's success.

It's really hard to say too much about the film without giving away many of the suprises, but suffice it to say that one of the strengths of this series is the excellent cast. After the death of Bill Nighy's Viktor at the end of the first film (Nighy makes a small but sufficiently hammy cameo appearance during a flashback to the 13th century), the last remaining Vampire Lord, Marcus is awakened...and he has a very old score to settle. Played by Tony Curran, probably best known as The Invisible Man from The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen, Marcus is the right blend of charismatic and dangerously unstable. Wheares Nighy's Viktor was evil suppressed and under control, Marcus is wild and out of control.

Despite not appearing in the trailer, Scott Speedman is back as Michael Corvin, the Lycan/vampire hybrid who has won Selen's heart. He plays a fairly major role in the film but I did feel that one of the film's flaws is that it didn't sufficiently explore just what he was and what he can do.

Lastly, of course, there's Selene herself, played by the gorgeous Kate Beckinsale. A heroine tough enough to appeal to women, and sexy enough to appeal to men too. What does Underworld have that Blade doesn't? I think the answer would have to be the lovely Kate (actually, to be fair, Underworld outperforms the Blade series in just about every department).

I'm off to see this again tonight, it's that good.

Rating: 9/10

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