Underworld: Evolution

(2006) * 1/2 R
105 min. Screen Gems. Director: Len Wiseman. Cast: Kate Beckinsale, Scott Speedman, Tony Curran, Derek Jacobi, Bill Nighy.
Underworld: Evolution will probably please the presumable fans of the first film, but newcomers may nap through the convoluted exposition. The latest in Goth fashions, Len Wiseman's amped-up sequel again stars his wife Kate Beckinsale and Scott Speedman. It tells of the good old days when men were werewolves and women were vampires. Okay, to be honest, I'm pretty sick of humorless, monochromatic vampire pictures (Underworld's signature is an ever-present blue filter). But they're the bread and butter of a lot of effects and makeup technicians, so we do get some pretty amazing images along the way, like hybrid beastie Markus, a vampire with nasty-tentacled wings. Riddled as it is with flashbacks, Underworld: Evolution still can't muster compelling characters, not even for actors of the caliber of Bill Nighy and Derek Jacobi. Consequently, the movie plays more like an elaborate special-effects demo reel. Worst of all, the conclusion inappropriately invokes the word "hope" while promising a sequel.
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