I’m about to let you in on one of my deep, dark secrets: I love vampire and werewolf movies. I realize that there is no accounting for taste. It’s just the way it is. So obviously the movie “Underworld” and its sequel “Underworld Evolution” were right up my alley.
If you didn’t get a chance to see the original film, it centers on the war between vampires and lycans (werewolves). The battle began hundreds of years ago when one brother – – a vampire – – and another brother – – a lycan – – began the feud. The vampires are aristocratic and sophisticated which is a major contrast to the brutal lycans. The two races have sworn to wage war until only one of them is left standing. Of course, humanity is blissfully unaware of the existence of either race. They are nothing more than myths relayed in stories from generation to generation to scare children into acceptable behavior.
“Underworld” sets the stage for a union between vampires and lycans through the joining of a vampire warrior named Selene (played by Kate Beckinsale) and a lycan-vampire hybrid named Michael (played by Scott Speedman). The union, which is taboo because it could result in a new invincible species of predator that combines the strengths of both races with the weaknesses of neither. This, of course, threatens to tip the balance of power in favor of the werewolves, who have heretofore been the underdog; something the vampires cannot allow.
“Underworld Evolution” takes up where the original movie leaves off. The war rages on with the beautiful death-dealer, Selene on the run with her hybrid (half vampire and half werewolf) lover Michael. The focus of this film is vengeance. Selene now seeks vengeance on the vampires after finding out that they, not the lycans, were responsible for the death of her family as she was led to believe. The new vampire leader, Marcus (played by Tony Curran), also seeks vengeance because of Selene’s union with the lycans which ultimately led to the death of the race’s former leader Vicktor. The audience is treated to flashbacks that set up the war between the vampires and lycans and finds out that Marcus was not happy about the eternal imprisonment of his brother which he now seeks to release. Together, he fancies the two of them to be unstoppable and equal to the strength and power of the hybrid Michael. However, Selene is intent on stopping Marcus from releasing his brother, especially now that she realizes she knows where he is imprisoned. It turns out that the reason her family was killed those many years ago was because her father built the prison that now holds the leader of the lycans. What results is madness, mayhem, gun battles and sword fights along with the discovery of mysterious artifacts, secret crypts, and catacombs. But who will win; the vampires or the lycans? Or will an even greater hybrid enemy now plague the world? Obviously, I’m not going to tell you that. You’ll have to see it for yourself.
This story is a sharply written, well-crafted, and tightly woven retelling of age-old mythical creatures. It is edgy, dark, and sexy. The screenplay written by Danny McBride is imaginative and clever while still remaining true to the basic myth of these two supposed races. Director Len Wiseman creates a believable world where these creatures rule with cruelty and arrogance. Using a largely British cast, he wove an uncanny European realism into the film. He keeps the action moving at a break neck pace and the blood flowing as is necessary in this particular type of tale.
Curran, as Marcus, brought to life the legendary evil vampire ruler. His show no mercy, take no prisoners attitude set the stage for the final showdown. Bill Nighy’s flashback turn as Viktor the former vampire leader, was every bit as terrifying and disturbing. Although never seen totally out of makeup, William Steele’s portrayal of the imprisoned werewolf brother was bone chillingly realistic. And Sir Derek Jacobi as Alexander Corvinus, the father of the two evil brothers, was both powerful and moving. Speedman’s Michael was credible but not spectacular. However, Beckinsale commanded this movie from its opening scene until its inevitable conclusion. Her mere presence on screen caught and held the eye of every audience member. Of course, for the men out there, it doesn’t hurt that she looks great with her jet-black hair, skintight leather catsuit, ruby red lips, and luminescent blue eyes. She is nothing short of mesmerizing on the screen.
I liked this movie. I didn’t love it. I have definitely seen better films of this genre. However, I appreciated its edginess and I felt that it was appropriately dark where other movies of the same genre attempt to be something much less. Let’s face it. This isn’t a lighthearted film. It isn’t meant to be. However, it is good entertainment for the those who love horror films. I give it three out of five stars.
“Underworld Evolution” is a Screen Gems and Lakeshore Entertainment Production in conjunction with Len Wiseman Films. It is 106 minutes in length and carries an R rating for graphic violence and some sexual situations.