Online Extended Version: ‘Underworld’ story evolves

“Underworld: Evolution,” sequel to the 2003 film “Underworld,” has enough action and gore to please the casual viewer, but the complex story line may leave many confused.In spite of this, moviegoers flocked to the film over the weekend, making it No. 1 in weekend ticket sales with just under $27 million, almost $16 million more than the second place film.

“Evolution” continues the story of Selene (Kate Beckinsale), an elite warrior who turns on her brethren in the ranks of a ruling class of immortal vampires when she discovers that she is on the wrong side of war, which sought to wipe out a so-called lesser immortal race: werewolves. In “Underworld,” Selene finds that one of the leaders of her vampire coven was responsible for the death of her family, and the war was sparked because the two immortal beings were beginning to merge bloodlines. The sequel is the story of Selene and the first vampire-werewolf hybrid, love interest Michael (Scott Speedman), attempting to expose the truth.

“Evolution” picks up right where the previous movie left off. The filmmakers took great care in making a sequel that would continue the story line seamlessly, but this turns out to be the film’s biggest weakness as numerous flashbacks to “Underworld” litter the first quarter of the film. The flashbacks are needed to understand what the characters are talking about, but they aren’t enough to get newcomers up to speed and in turn slow the action for everyone else.

The original film’s fairly mundane “Romeo and Juliet”-style story was made interesting by the rich history created by the writers, and “Evolution” delves even deeper into that history. The backstory for both films seems like a collection of sci-fi/fantasy elements, but this film seems to employ many elements from ancient mythology as well. The most prevalent parallel is when the immortal who spawned both the original vampires and werewolves, Alexander Covinus, helps Selene defeat his children.

“Evolution” gives an even richer history and a better look at the complex power structure that it has created, making it a superior film when compared to “Underworld.” Just make sure you rent the first movie before emptying your wallet at the theater.

– Brian Chatman