Reviewed by GREG KING.
As the original Underworld (2003) informed us, there has been a secret underground war waging between vampires and werewolves for some 800 years, a war between immortals of which we humans have been largely unaware. Traditional vampire and werewolf lore and logic was quickly dispensed with as these mythical creatures used high-powered automatic weapons and explosives to wipe each other out, rather than cloves of garlic, wooden crosses, or even silver bullets. Fighting the good fight of the vampires, helping to squash the werewolves, is Selene (Kate Beckinsale), a vampire warrior who had a personal stake in the outcome.
This largely unnecessary and uninspired sequel takes up the story from where the original left off, albeit with a brief prologue and recap of the action to bring the uninitiated up to speed. Selene and her human/werewolf hybrid lover Michael (Felicity’s Scott Speedman) are on the run and hiding from an army of assassins bent on avenging the death of Victor (Bill Nighy), the revered centuries old leader of the vampires. Selene and Michael find themselves caught up in the efforts of Victor’s protege Marcus (Tony Curran) to free his werewolf brother William from the concealed vault where he has been imprisoned for the past 800 years. And apparently only Selene inadvertently holds the key to his location.
Underworld established Beckinsale, dressed in tight black leather and sporting massive fire power, as a female action heroine in the same mould as Linda Hamilton (Terminator and T2), Sigourney Weaver in the Alien series, and Uma Thurman in the Kill Bill films. Here she is offered plenty of opportunities to continue to kick more werewolf arse in fine fashion, and she seems more than capable of handling the physical demands of her role.
Shakespearian veteran Derek Jacobi is clearly slumming it here in his thankless role as the patriarch of a family of immortals, who has been unable to stop the slaughter of werewolves and vampires over the past eight centuries. And Bill Nighy, whose character was killed in spectacular fashion at the end of the first film, appears here mainly in a series of flashbacks that establish the back-story.
The subtitle of this sequel suggests some kind of growth, change, or development from the original film, but in reality Underworld Evolution offers more of the same mindless carnage and brutal action. Very little of the plot makes sense, but it is handled in such furious and frenetic fashion by director Len Wiseman that audiences have very little time to ponder the gaps of logic until after the credits have rolled. As with most big budget action films of today, the sound is cranked up to deafening levels, so that every gun shot, every explosion, every crashing object registers at almost painful levels. And the whole thing is set at night or in darkened interiors and is so dimly lit that you almost strain your eyes trying to discern what is happening. Ultimately, Underworld Evolution is simply under whelming.