I blame the CSI-ing of the culture. Why else would UNDERWORLD EVOLUTION have a scene in which vampire corpses, sheathed in body bags, are taken to a ship docked at a suitably foggy pier, and autopsied? Scalpels, draining tables, the whole deal, not to mention animations of things going on in the bodies of the undead. Pondering that, though, was the only thing that came even close (but no cigar) to engaging my interest during the ordeal of sitting through this sequel to UNDERWORLD, which was an equally dreary piece of work. Bad though it was, the sequel makes it look almost competent. (Once again, no cigar).
What we have here is vampire and death-dealer Selene (Kate Beckinsale), fresh from the mayhem that concluded her last cinematic outing, on the run from the people who did not care for said mayhem. In tow, she has Michael (Scott Speedman), the hybrid vampire-lycan (a fussy word for werewolf), who has won her heart and whose presence makes for someone with whom she can engage in expository dialogue, and to share the requisite sex scene, but more about that later.
Unfortunately, no amount of exposition can help a film that has blithely discarded a coherent plot or any sort of logic, internal, external, or even whimsical. No, instead of any of that, it’s as though the filmmakers thought we could be distracted by having the Goth-chic monochromatic blacks and near-black of the art direction periodically punctuated with impalings, crashes, explosions (including a head), and cheesy dialogue that doesn’t so much state the obvious as grow mold before your very eyes. And perhaps if the pacing weren’t like so much sludge being forced through a very tiny funnel, it might have been a workable plan. At one point Selene and Michael get busy with a display of disengaged, slow, and sludgy sex. Even hormones can’t prevail under these conditions. That being said, a tale of warring brothers, one vampire, the other lycan, who spawn sworn enemies over the centuries doesn’t stand a chance.
The two are on the run, mostly from a leather-winged guy who is very, very ticked off. Much of that could be because he knows how very bad he looks in the billowy A-line skirt that he is wearing, and Kate looks so good in her black latex catsuit accented with the black corset and clunky black boots. Or it could be that in order to have all those impalings and crashes and explosions, not to mention La Beckinsale going kung-fu every five minutes or so, it is necessary to have someone very ticked off trailing her. As for the big boat floating there in the fog, Derek Jacobi, who deserves better, spends his screen time there, mostly staring into space. Perhaps he, too, is pondering the CSI-ing of the culture.
UNDERWORLD EVOLUTION is very focused on being stylish and completely oblivious to the concept of substance. Sangfroid, an apt mood if it had been pulled off properly, here congeals such that everyone on screen looks bored to tears, even when fighting for his, her, or its life. With a film like this, there is nothing for it but to slink home and sit in a darkened corner, shuddering in grim anticipation of the next sequel to ooze from this festering lump of piffle.