Last night, I watched Underworld: Evolution. I'm not entirely sure why.
I think that somewhere, I picked up the idea that Kate Beckinsale is the epitome of hot. And she's certainly attractive, and between your Tomb Raiders and Aeon Fluxes, I think there's plenty of room under Film's Tent for more women action heroes in tight clothing.
Case in point: Milla Jovovich stars later on this year in "Ultraviolet", which looks to me like somebody's brilliant combination of this and this.
I have no doubt that this formula is bankable. Indeed, I'll go see Milla kicking people, if only to figure out why the trailer that I just saw looked so freakishly retouched. I'm not sure if it was incidental, like JPEG compression artifacts, a good idea gone bad, like the gauzy filter used to shoot Cybil Shepherd in Moonlighting, or a bad idea gone bad, like the blockiness when your Sims took a shower.
Certainly, this movie's position in the media landscape earned it a certain measure of ambivalence. I had no reason to expect it to be great, and having seen the first movie, I should have expected it to be about as painful as the first one.
One of the better things that I can find to say about the movie is that it fell within the window of my expectations. If we normalize my movie ratings based on my expectations for this movie, with 0 representing Underworld 1, and 100 representing Matrix 1, I'd give this movie, oh, let's say a 15. Plenty of room above and below those landmarks, you understand. That whole real number line that your Algebra teacher drew on the chalk board and all.
Some of my complaints about this movie:
yeah, it's a sequel, but the first half hour of the movie was an unpleasant patchwork of scenes from the first movie, most done as fuzzy flashbacks, to underscore the fact that these were the characters' memories. I guess. I was left reminded of who several of the major players were, but unclear on their motivations - I knew there was a betrayal that Selene (Beckinsale) still felt, but it was left floating, unattached to characters or events.
enough with the slow motion already I rarely take issue with cinematography, but in every combat, they took delight in claustrophobic special effects shots. Perhaps the desired effect was immediacy, which I think they missed. Instead, I just got irritated with the Manimal-like transformation footage, and confusing combat sequences.
so, he's the only hybrid, or...? throughout the movie, I felt like I was watching a script that had gone through translation - there were concepts mentioned once that seemed to make sense, and then later, the same words were reused in a different way. Perhaps this is the result of sloppy editing, revisions done at different times, or me just not paying attention. I don't usually find myself complaining that movies are too complex, but two major pieces were missing here: establish your mythos and establish your relationships. Maybe they deserve some slack, being a sequel, but I was unclear as to what restrictions and abilities the different kinds of Immortals had going for them, and (worse), I was having a hard time keeping up with the alliances and heritage of each of the characters. That's fine in some movies, but this is not one of them. One problem here was that the movie had a narrative introduction, a flashback to the thirteenth century, I think, which established the relationship between 3 of the characters in the movie, but it wouldn't have hurt to go on and show us some more in that same style to help us fit the remainder of the characters in place.
I guess that's enough without throwing spoilers out there. If you really dug the first movie to the point that you've seen it in the past month, maybe you're the audience for it. Otherwise, skip this one. I hear Emma Thompson's in a new movie.