SciFi Comedy
Evolution
.
Dir: Ivan Reitman
Star: David Duchovny, Orlando Jones, Julianne Moore, Seann William Scott
Cert / Year: PG - PG13 / 2001
Format: DVD R2
'

When a meteor crashes into would be fireman Wayne Gray's (Seann William Scott) car Dr Ira Caine (David Duchovny) a small town Biology teacher with a shady past, and his best friend Geology \ ladies volleyball teacher Dr. Harry Block (Orlando Jones) are sent to investigate. As it turns out the meteor is covered in single cell alien life, which immediately starts to evolve. As the creatures carry on evolving at an alarming rate, the military arrive to take control situation. Joining the Gung-ho military force is attractive yet accident prone scientist Dr. Allison Reed (Julianne Moore), who kicks out Ira and Harry as they contain the situation. At least that is what they hope, but pretty soon it becomes clear that the aliens are spreading and have now evolved into creatures that have started to eat the local towns people. Is evolution about to make humanity extinct, or can this inept bunch save the world?

Evolution was written by Don Jakoby who's other work includes The Philadelphia Experiment, Lifeforce and Invaders from Mars (1986 remake). As you can see he likes the sci-fi thriller with an end of the world theme which is continued into the plot of Evolution. The story is very good and would have worked really well as a serious movie, which is no surprise because this is how it was written. Only when Ivan Reitman came along did this become a sci-fi comedy.

Ivan Reitman has produced some brilliant comedies in his time, Animal House, Stripes, and of course Ghostbusters but here lies the problem. By amending a serious script and attempting to turn it into a comedy we have been given a film that is not funny enough for a comedy, and too lightweight for a successful sci-fi thriller. In many places the comedy feels tacked on, and the film is never that funny. This is often due to the comedy not being taken far enough, which means that a number of big laughs are lost. I know humour is subjective but this really is no Ghostbusters.

This is the key, as you can't help the feeling that Ivan Reitman desperately wanted this to be a sci-fi Ghostbusters. Character traits for the main characters are robbed straight from Ghostbusters; for example the lecherous and feckless attitude is shared by both Venkman and here by Harry Block. Not only this but some of the scenes are also similar, such as the capture of the creature in the bucket which mimics the capture of the ghost in Ghostbusters. It has all been done before, and better.

Casting is also a major stumbling block for this film. I'm sorry but David Duchovny, despite assurances from Reitman, cannot do comedy. He is wooden at the best of times (ok so now I'm in trouble with X-files fans) but here he is way out of his depth. The last thing he is though is funny. Orlando Jones is good in a Ernie Hudson sort of way, but unfortunately he is being asked to fill the Bill Murray type of role, and this really is beyond him. Thank heavens then for Seann William Scott, who yet again shows a good understanding of comedy and gets nearly all of the laughs (the "Here birdy, birdy" scene being the best). Julianne Moore is as usual good, but the script never allows her any big comic moments. In the end though it is up to Dan Aykroyd to turn up in a small role and out act everyone.

It may sound as if I have been rather negative but there are plus points. The effects are excellent. They really bring the alien Eco system to life. The plot does contain enough of the original concept to generate some genuine tension, and there are some good comedic moments. When viewed as a sci-fi film this is pretty good stuff, but as a comedy it is somewhat lacking. It manages to fall directly between these two stools, being neither fully one nor the other. Definitely worth a watch especially if you approach the film with no preconceived ideas of what to expect.

By the way there is some really blatant product placement at the end of the movie. But this time the tongue is firmly in cheek, as it doubles as a clever gag. Nice one.

Rating: 2 out of 5

DVD
Picture 1.85:1 Anamorphic The picture is excellent
Audio 5.1 Dolby Digital Big and LOUD
Features Three trailers, one for Ghostbusters
Dull static Menus
A 15 minute, amusing, making of featurette
Production Notes
Cast Biographies
Verdict It is unusal to see a region 2 release before the region 1, however for a major release the extras are extremely poor. There must be deleted scenes as they are shown in the featurette, so where are they?

Rating: 2 out of 5

Reviewed by Glitz Back Top Home