You won’t ever know the excitement I felt when I heard a sequel was being made to the film Underworld. While I didn’t see the big to due about the first film, I was actually hoping that the film would take the route some sequels have taken by making the film far superior to its predecessor. I guess Director Len Wiseman was trying to go out and make the sequel to Underworld even worse than its predecessor as he has completely succeeded in doing so.
As Underworld Evolution opens up, we g…t a small prologue that flashes us back to 1202 AD. The prologue tells us of the war between the vampires and the Lycans. We learn how the war began with two brothers, both the immortal sons of Alexander Corvinus. The first brother, Markus, was bitten by a bat and hence became the blood leader of the vampies. The second brother, Willian, was bitten by a wolf and hence became the first and most powerful Lycan. Sounds like a nice family feud huh? After this prologue, we pick up right where Underworld left off as Selene (Kate Beckinsale) and her super boyfriend have finally extinguished any and all foes and finally seem like they may have some time for themselves. Oh lord, there is another foe to fight? Turns out that Markus has been woken up by some force or person and isn’t all too excited to see that his family is completely dead.
So the big question at hand must be is Underworld Evolution a better film than its predecessor? Well, similar to the first film, I tried to sit down and, after reading the horror that was this film approval rating over at critic heaven Rotten Tomatoes, find something possibly charming or pleasing about this sequel. Sure the visual effects and set designs look a heck of a lot better than the first, but that still doesn’t protect the film and turn it into something that is good. As I watched Evolution for the second time due to the included commentary track, I found myself disliking the film even more, a similar feeling I had after my second viewing of Underworld. Yes, Kate Beckinsale does look good in her skin tight outfit, but the story she is surrounded in feels like it has been diluted of anything possibly entertaining or possibly good.
It is pretty obvious that Director Len Wiseman likes blood, a lot. Take the opening sequence about 3-4 minutes in where blood splatters in every little direction. A ton of blood, Mr. Wiseman, doesn’t help the audience if the blood used in the extraneous story is never made truly clear as to why it is being used at such a high level. And a lot of guns, guns, and, one second, ok, more guns are used. Granted some of the action scenery was pretty cool, especially the scene around 44-46 minute mark, but a majority of the rest seemed oddly thrown in to make the film longer.
While Director Wiseman does try to throw in some emotion and a possible love story, which I applaud him for as it seemed to be working for a bit, the overall ending effect after the film has concluded is the feeling of a dry mouth from nearly falling asleep due to the soap opera I was apparently watched called Underworld Evolution. Maybe I’m being too critically here, but a successful action drama involving vampires and their habits has already been made and it is called Buffy: The Vampire Slayer. As a sequel, Underworld Evolution tried to put aside the huge negatives that many critics had with the film, but instead has come up with all new negatives that create an even more sour taste in the viewer’s mouth.
Underworld Evolution is presented in a crisp, clean, bright, luscious, and gorgeous 2:40:1 Widescreen Aspect Ratio. Colors are bright and spot on while the overall scenery, from the dank caverns to the huge forests, look great. The constant dreary conditions that the first is presented in, surprisingly, doesn’t really hurt the film’s image quality but actually makes the film darker and darker as it continues on. For a film that was made a shy nine months ago, the image is quite excellent, which it should be.
Similar to the video quality, the audio, which is presented in a rich Dolby Digital 5.1 Surround Sound Track, is great. Bullets zip and zoom by the viewer’s ears from the surrounds while the constant roaring and screaming from everyone on the screen, sounds delightful. Dialogue was spot on and clear. The only real complaint I have is that some of the effects, not too many though, were so loud and so fast that it made some of the action scenes seem almost too loud. Similar to the extended cut of Underworld, the sub gets a nice work out but seems like it was moving too fast. Besides these few quirks, the audio is great.
Even a ton of extra features can turn a terrible film into a good film.
- Audio Commentary with writer/director Len Wiseman, production designer Patrick Tatopoulos, 2nd unit director Brad Martin, and editor Nicolas de Toth: The commentary, surprisingly enough considering the source material, is halfway decent. The group of participants began by speaking about various production sets, and then the commentary turns into a quick chat between the participants where they never seem to continue to overly focus on the subject at hand. Little details as to where the film was shot, the production sets were made, etc are discussed.
- Bloodlines: From Script to Screen: This feature goes over the second story and how the actors’ felt about making a sequel to the film.
- The Hybrid Theory: This feature goes over the huge amount of FX work that was accomplished for the film.
- Making Monsters Roar: This feature goes over the monsters’ creation and how they made each monster seem more scary and gruesome than the next.
- The War Rages On: This feature goes over the stuntwork that was done in the film.
- Building a Saga: This feature dives into the production work and set locations.
- Music and Mayhem: This feature goes over the music production and sound effects.
- Music Video: Here we get a music video for the track “Her Portrait in Black” by artist Atreyu.
Great picture, fine audio, and some interesting features can’t help save a film completely. If you somehow were one of the few who enjoyed the first film, you probably will find something to enjoy here, but for the rest of you I can’t even recommend the film for a rental.
Special Features List
- Audio Commentary with writer/director Len Wiseman, production designer Patrick Tatopoulos, 2nd unit director Brad Martin, and editor Nicolas de Toth
- Bloodlines: From Script to Screen
- The Hybrid Theory
- Making Monsters Roar
- The War Rages On
- Building a Saga
- Music and Mayhem
- Music Video