enlargeOne of the first movies that my wife convinced me to take her to when we were dating was Scary Movie. She thought it looked funny, and I wanted to please her, so I paid what few hard earned dollars I had for us to spend an evening at the movies. It turned out to be a cinematic experience so miserable that she apologized to me afterward. After seeing Underworld: Evolution, someone owes me an apology.

I want two hours of my life back.

I’m now convinced that I’m going to be on my deathbed, re-tracing my life, and I’m going to remember that I once sat through Carnosaur 2 and Underworld: Evolution. And frankly, there were enough unanswered questions from the first Carnosaur to justify me watching the second—at least compared to trying to justify Underworld: Evolution. Having seen the first Underworld, it’s not like I expected a whole lot: Kate Beckinsale, as Selene the Death Dealer, running around in a tight leather outfit shooting a lot of bullets at monsters. That, by the way, is a better plot summary than the barely-one-step-above-a-video-game thing that passed for this movie’s screenplay. Before you ask why I went to see this in the first place, I will remind you that sequels of these type of cult movies tend to be better than the original. They tend to up the action quotient, deepen the mythology, create more of a thrill ride, and possiblypossiblyeven become a director’s franchise. Not so here.

I want two hours of my life back.

Underworld: Evolution picks up after the ending credits of the first Underworld. So we are in the midst of this overly-Machiavellian, grand conspiracy/war between the lycans (werewolves) and the vampires. [This is basically a story set in the White Wolf gaming company’s Vampyre (the basis of the television series Kindred: The Embraced) and Werewolf games universe, but the uninitiated are not supposed to notice.] The movie is relentless action with no point. The frenetic direction mostly illustrates director Len Wiseman’s love of things crashing through walls. The action literally only stops long enough for gratuitous sex scenes or the one bit of exposition that supposedly explains why everyone is running around shooting and otherwise trying to maim one another. Yes, I said gratuitousbecause the randomness of it, like the rest of the movie, made no sense. Sadly, I kept waiting for the movie to start making sense, but by the time it did, I no longer cared.

Vampires represent a resurrection to darkness. In vampires you see the perversion of the idea of blood being necessary for eternal life. Underworld: Evolution continues in the Postmodern era’s tradition of distancing itself from the religious elements of vampire mythology, though sunlight is still an effective weapon against vampires and blood is still essential for the transmission of what they are as well as their reason for being immortal. The lure of vampires, from the original to Anne Rice’s depiction of them, has been their seductive underside. Vampires seem more free, civilized, almost aristocratic; frankly, they have been over-Romanticized. Werewolves, by comparison, are savage—beasts reminding us that we have a corrupted self inside us. A side, a nature, in us that we must tame, restrain, or kill.

“Therefore, just as sin entered the world through one man, and death through sin, and in this way death came to all men, because all sinned”

—Romans 5:12

“The journey to the truth” is through the blood, Marcus says. Echoes of the story of Christ reverberate through this movie. SPOILER WARNING (I think. Who knows if I’ve even grasped the plot fully): Much of the movie revolves around the search for Alexander Corvinus (Derek Jacobi, a long way from his I, Claudius days), who is essentially the “Adam” (the first) of the vampire and werewolf clans. He is the father to twin sons, Marcus (Tony Curran), the original vampire; and William (Brian Steele), the original werewolf. Yet, despite the evil his sons immediately inflict on the world, he cannot bring himself to destroy them.

“For since death came through a man, the resurrection of the dead comes also through a man. For as in Adam all die, so in Christ all will be made alive.”

—I Corinthians 15:21-22

Selene and Michael Corvin (Scott Speedman as the half-breed or hybrid rescued from the first Underworld) represent the future. The “second Adam,” much like what Christ did, takes on the traits of the f
takes on his very naturebut lives the life meant to be lived. In effect, the second Adam redeems the life and sin of the first. Through facing temptation, through trials, even through a death and resurrection (including an “ascension” in to [sun] light), the lives of the second Adams provide the example for others to follow.

I’m still wondering how a movie full of vampires, werewolves, non-stop action, and a leather-clad Kate Beckinsale sucked so badly. Though I am tempted to make a list of the things I could have done instead of watching this movie, I will continue to concentrate on the themes drawn out of the movie—though even the echoes of the story of redemption are not enough to save it.