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January 23, 2006 - Image 8

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The Michigan Daily, 2006-01-23

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8A - The Michigan Daily - Monday, January 23, 2006




action, guns and gore

not quite
Daily Arts Writer



By David R. Eicke
Daily Arts Writer
The head bone's connected to the ... well,
not anymore. Jawbones rarely stay hinged in

"Underworld: Evolution."
The top sets of molars usu-
ally end up somewhere on
the other side of the room.
But at least the horror
story stays intact, albeit a
tad ridiculous. In a sequel
that tracks an enduring,
bloody feud between vam-

At the Showcase
and Quality 16
Screen Gems

begin with. Conceptually, it doesn't have as
far to fall.
It turns out that this ongoing feud startedr=
in one family: The first-ever werewolf and
the first-ever vampire were twins fathered
by the same immortal man. The schism took
hold when the wolf brother, William, was shut
away for "all time" against his twin's will.
Now Marcus, the vampire brother (Tony Cur-
ran, "Flight of the Phoenix"), has been let
loose and sets out on a quest to free his twin
from eternal imprisonment. This may sound
like a heartwarming tale of brotherly love, but
the idea is that once united, they can take over
the world as "new gods."
The job of preventing an apocalyptic Mar-
cus-William reunion is left to the visually deli-
cious, leather-clad Selene (Kate Beckinsale,
"Serendipity") and her werewolf/vampire-
hybrid lover Michael (Scott Speedman, "xXx:
State of the Union") of the first "Underworld" "What do you the mean the class is full, bitch?!"

pires and werewolves, there's something to be
said for ridiculousness.
"Evolution" follows much the same pattern
of "The Matrix" sequels. The franchise begins
with a cool new concept (if one considers
vampires vs. werewolves cool), bases a good
movie around that concept, and then, with
nothing left to propel it, the sequel resorts to
more gore, more sex and more action in an
attempt to trump the original.
The difference between the sequels (and
what makes "Evolution" work) is that, some-
what unlike "The Matrix," the concept wasn't
exactly brimming with intellectual power to

Courtesy or Screen Gems

But before they get to that, they lock them-
selves in a box and have sex all day.
It wreaks of Trinity and Neo: both powerful
superhuman specimens, the male with a little
more power because of some strange gift, locked
in an environment with no natural light. And it's a
little disappointing. You expect more out of vam-
pire-on-half-vampire fornication - some biting

or scratching or something. But no.-Just regular,
nice-and-slow, "Cold Mountain"-type sex.
Not only does the film capitalize on the physi-
cal beauty of its actors, but also on its potential
for action and entrails. It's filled with lovely, gur-
gling blood sounds, high-energy music, cheesy
morphing effects and concrete that crumbles
when a guy hits his head on it. These may sound
like drawbacks, but they come off as charming.

The production has long since abandoned any
attempt at realism.
"Underworld: Evolution" has stayed true
to its name. It has "evolved." It retains its
identity, but the characters are stronger, the
action crazier and the villains more grandi-
ose. Maybe in the next movie they'll wash
their hair and start wearing cotton. But maybe
that's too much to ask.

I .

Want a good, indigenous-themed
action film, but find Terrence Malick's
delicate,epic poem-
type filmmaking a
little too much to End of the
bear? Have no fear. Spear
There's another At the Showcase
film you can turn to and Quality 16
for clanking weap- Jungle
ons and shattered
cultures. Although
"End of the Spear" lacks the artistic
high-mindedness of Malick's aborigi-
nal-adventure movie "The New World,"
which just went wide, it's still decent,
with reasonable bouts of action and a stir-
ring storyline.
Set in the rainforests of Ecuador,
"Spear" follows missionaries looking to
engage and study the Waodani tribe, the
most violent people anthropologists have
ever chronicled. Into the Waodani's world
of daily killing go Nate Saint (newcomer
Chad Allen) and four other missionaries,
who hope to establish contact and con-
vince the tribe to lay down their arms. But
things go horribly awry for the well mean-
ing but ill-prepared outsiders, and they're
all speared to death. Yet through their sac-
rifice, the five pioneers set the way for oth-
ers to redeem the vicious tribe. Nate's son
Steve eventually journeys into the forest
to confront his father's killer and finally
understand his death.
Removed from its obvious, pandering
Christian undertones, "Spear" is a pass-
able action film with a more compelling
plot than many of its contemporaries.
Though receiving minimal attention from
studio marketers and critics, the film is
actually not a bargain-basement, straight-
to-video production. There are many well
composed shots of beautiful forests and a
sweeping score to unify the film. Despite
the absence of any well known actors,
there are some strong perfornances here,
especially from main tribesmen ei cay-
ani and Kimo (newcomers Louie Leon-
ardo and Jack Guzman, respectively).
As a true story about the tragic plight
of a group of missionaries, the film
does tend to be one-sideda lects
to tackle the questions of eth .cen-
trism and the morality of docuniting
4eFregFn culture. Ce4ainly the mis-
sionaries had noble intentions, but we
can't help but be alarmed by the fact
that the film completely ignores the
issue of cultural dominance. Do mis-
sionaries destroy culture? Regardless
of what the answer is, the issue should
be confronted rather than ignored.
Even as other Christian-themed films
receive recognition for their artistic val-
ues as well as their spiritual message
("The Passion of the Christ" and "The
Chronicles of Narnia"), "End of the
Spear" will likely go unnoticed. To be
sure, it's a touching account. But the Jan-
uary freeze and Colin Farrell's sweeping
mane in the next theater over are likely to
spell the end for "Spear"






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..... ..



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