Underworld: Evolution (2006)

(In theaters, January 2006) I like to start movie years with an indifferent film that resets my expectations for the next twelve months. Given that goal, I couldn’t have found better than this limp sequel to remind me of how ordinary movies can be. If you liked the first Underworld, this is pretty much the same thing: Vampires, werewolves, automatic weapons, a vague East-European setting (though less urban this time around) and Kate Beckinsale in tight clothes. On paper, it founds fabulous. On screen, though, it just doesn’t work. Despite Beckinsale’s form-hugging costumes, this film, like the first one, can’t be bothered to develop anything past banality: even the action scenes are dull. There’s a semi-neat five minutes at the end, but that’s about it. Fans of the first film (there are a few) will note how tightly this sequel integrated with its predecessor’s plot, but everyone else will spend half the film figuring out how’s who, who wants to kill who and, most importantly, why we should care. The flat bichromatic palette doesn’t help, and neither does the indifferent direction. The first film didn’t deserve a sequel, especially if it’s going to be a lackluster effort like this one. On the other hand, consider my movie-critic sensors properly calibrated for the rest of 2006.

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