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THIS REVIEW DEALS WITH GRAPHIC VIOLENCE AND GRAPHIC SEXUAL CONTENT. IT IS NOT APPROPRIATE FOR CHILDREN.

MPAA Rating
Credits
Genre
Horror, Drama, Romance, Sci-Fi/Fantasy, Mystery/Suspense, War
Cast
Kate Beckinsale as Selene; Scott Speedman as Michael Corvin; Tony Curran as Marcus; Derek Jacobi as Alexander Corvinus
Director
Len Wiseman (Underworld)
Distributor
Sony Pictures
Reviewer
Marcus Yoars
Underworld: Evolution

Underworld: Evolution

When we last saw vampire Selene, she was fulfilling her role as a Death Dealer by avenging the traitorous ways of her leaders. And she was falling in love with Michael, a young doctor forced to accept that he carries in his preternatural veins both vampire blood and that of a sworn enemy, the werewolfish Lycans. Their Romeo-and-Juliet love infused the gothic story of the first Underworld.

Now the two are on the run, wanted by both vampires and Lycans. But the more pressing concern turns out to be Marcus, the original vampire who has re-emerged from a centuries-old slumber as a new creature—yet another hybrid more powerful than either feuding race. Marcus is on the hunt for Michael and seems to be after the strange medallion he wears. But what does he want? And why has he returned now?

Positive Elements

In a scenario that just may be the oddest positive element ever recorded by a Plugged In Online critic, Selene provides Michael a bag of stored blood so he won't seek out human blood instead. "You don't want attacking humans on your conscience," she says. Michael thanks her for saving his life. He also warns a group of humans to get away from him before he transforms into a werewolf and slaughters them.

Alexander, who's the father of both Marcus and William (the first vampire and Lycan, respectively), loves his sons despite the havoc they have caused separately through the centuries. It should be noted, however, that his refusal to kill either has allowed the bloody war between vampires and Lycans to continue, resulting in untold deaths.

Spiritual Content

It's mentioned that a jail for a treacherous vampire was once a monastery. Once again the underlying back story behind the vampire/Lycan feud involves immortality. A raging Marcus explains to his father that a "new race has been created in the image of a new maker, a new god ... me." He continues his boasting by declaring, "The true god has no father."

Sexual Content

As in the previous movie, Selene's leather outfit is skintight. But that's the least of moviegoer's concerns. Selene and Michael disrobe and have sex, complete with explicit positions, motions and facial expressions. They're both shown naked, though arms block the camera from catching full breast nudity. (His backside is shown.) A hedonistic vampire who's been exiled for centuries spends his time indulging in sexual pleasures. He's shown in bed with two women, one of whose exposed breasts we see repeatedly. The other woman spends her entire screen time in skimpy lingerie. Their bedroom activity includes biting each other on the neck and drawing blood in a sexual manner. Parts of this and the aforementioned Selene/Michael scene are replayed several times during flashbacks.

Violent Content

With any vampire movie, you expect to see lots of blood. But in Evolution, blood drizzles, splatters, flows, gushes ... and then comes by the bucketful. Director Len Wiseman made a point in the original movie to include plenty of shoot-'em-up action combined with extreme gore. This go-round, he tosses in a barrage of even more nauseating ways to kill and be killed. Vampires, Lycans and humans are impaled at an astonishing rate—and the camera doesn't ever seem to miss the opportunity to zoom in on a knife, stake, claw, talon or hand sticking through the other side of a blood-soaked body part.

Heads are literally sliced in half. Decapitations are a regular occurrence. Faces, chests and backs are riddled with bullets—often from close range. Bodies are hacked, burned and even cut open slowly on a mortuary table. (The "examiner" then reaches into a body to retrieve the treasured medallion.)

Lycans feast on the flesh of their victims and vampires suck the blood from theirs. Selene tosses knives into the heads of a couple of attacking Lycans. Michael rips out innards and tears apart jaws. A creature literally gets shredded.

At this point, it seems silly to even mention that punches and blows are exchanged, that bodies get tossed around like rag dolls, that vehicles smash through various obstacles and that sites explode in spectacular fashion.

Crude or Profane Language

God's name is abused twice; Jesus' is profaned thrice. The f-word is spoken four times (and appears in subtitles once more), while the s-word gets used a half-dozen times.

Drug and Alcohol Content

A few men smoke, and a lit cigarette sits on the desk of a vampire. That vampire pours himself what's assumed to be a glass of wine. During a meal, Michael sits with a glass of alcohol in front of him.

Other Negative Elements

A dying Alexander hastens the process by essentially committing suicide. (He blows up his own ship.) Before doing so, he seems to justify William's killing rampages by telling Selene her violent ways are just as bad. "At least he cannot control his savagery," he argues.

Numerous characters are willing to betray their own kind for self-advancement.

Conclusion

If Underworld was more "Blade than Bard," then its sequel, Evolution, is twice so. Forget any semi-romantic notions of Romeo and Juliet gaining gothic glory. Here you get nothing more than lightning-quick, ultra-violent, ultra-bloody, ultra-gratuitous warfare.

Director Wiseman takes a few minutes now and then to fill in some background story holes remaining from the original film, as well as delving deeper into how the whole vampire/Lycan hostilities began. He has to make sure both fans and Underworld rookies can keep up. But it's all mere setup for the main attraction: flying body parts, spilled guts and more red life-liquid than could ever be replaced at a nationwide blood drive. Add in sex scenes with nudity and sexual images that involve pain and blood, and I'm left echoing Selene after she impales yet another enemy's head, "All that is certain is that darkness lies ahead."

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