The Good: The occasional joke, Production design
The Bad: Acting, Utter lack of real characters or development, Predictable plot
The Basics: Utterly unfunny and filled with preposterously lit special effects, Evolution fails to entertain or amuse, even when you're not expecting much.
When I sat down to Evolution, I had pretty low expectations. I had seen the previews when it was originally out in the theaters and I had considered going, but never got around to it. Someone I respect very much had seen the movie and not enjoyed it. She compared it to Men In Black (reviewed here!) which I did not like.
Evolution is pretty much the ultimate made for teens film. It is populated by recognizable celebrities (David Duchovny and Orlando Jones), a teen magazine heartthrob (Seann William Scott) and a clear skinned, beautiful woman (Julianne Moore). It has current music as well as a disco sing along in a fast car. It has jokes that turn on flatulence and anatomy (which can be fine, see Kevin Smith films like Dogma (reviewed here!) or Chasing Amy for intelligent "dick and fart joke" films). It has a lot of action, special effects and is low on plot or character intelligence.
The film follows two college professors, Ira Kane and Harry Block as they investigate a recent meteor crash. They take samples and discover that there is primitive life growing on the surface of the space rock and they begin to study the strange life forms. For reasons unknown to them at that time, there were microscopic life forms on and in the meteor and they are developing at an incredible rate from single celled life into vastly more complicated life forms. Kane and Block are accompanied early on by Wayne, a wannabe fireman who was at the site of the meteor when it impacted. When the military blocks Kane and Block's access to the meteor, they meet Allison, who is the obvious attempt for a romantic subplot in the film. The aliens continue to develop and multiply at an alarming rate and it appears they will take over Arizona and the state in only a few days!
Well, I have to say the first problem with Evolution is that it's not funny. I laughed twice and today I was in the mood for a dumb comedy.
David Duchovny reinforced the thesis that he either isn't given diverse roles or he simply can't act by playing Ira Kane very similar to how he presented Fox Mulder for so many years. Orlando Jones - through performance or the character as it was written - comes off like a cheap Chris Rock knock off, which was especially disappointing as Jones has a phenomenal range of personas, as evidenced from his years on MadTV. Julianne Moore illustrates her range by coming off nothing at all like her characters in Magnolia (reviewed here!) or Boogie Nights. Unfortunately, the role she's playing here is of a bungling moron and it's not a terribly good role.
Sadly, I can tell the film was trying to be something more. It wanted to be a comedy with complex characters and I can tell it wanted to be that by the fact that so many details of Ira Kane's backstory are thrown in. There are so many attempts made to make it clear that Ira had a life before the film began, from his military employment to his ex-wife. In this instance, it seems like the writer's are trying too hard. They focus only on Ira's backstory and little to none of the other characters and it comes across as an overcompensation or an afterthought. The movie "reads" like one that was written as a completely dumb comedy and the writers went back to add details to make it come out more intelligently.
The plot is one that is so predictable and so canned that the only people who will be surprised by the events in it are preteens.
Sadly, Evolution is a huge disappointment, failing to please or even entertain. It's a disappointment to your expectations if you're expecting it to be a disappointment!
For other works featuring Ted Levine, be sure to visit my reviews of:
Memoirs Of A Geisha
The Silence Of The Lambs
For other film reviews, please be sure to visit my index page on the subject!
© 2011, 2002 W.L. Swarts. May not be reprinted without permission.
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