And the genre devolves further

“Underworld: Evolution”Screen GemsDirected by Len WisemanWritten by Danny McBride, based on a story by Len Wiseman and Danny McBrideStarring: Kate Beckinsale, Scott Speedman, Tony Curran, Bill Nighy, Derek Jacobi and Steven MackintoshRated R / 105 minutesOpened January 20, 2006One out of four stars

It must be tough for Kate Beckinsale.

It’s plainly obvious to anyone who has seen both of the “Underworld” films-in particular this dreadful new sequel-that the brainchild behind the series, Len Wiseman, is simply an awful filmmaker. But poor Kate is married to him, so no matter how many of these movies he decides he wants to make, she has to keep saying yes!

And so we pick up where we left off at the end of the first “Underworld”- Selene (Beckinsale), the sexy vampress herself, has just killed the vampire leader, and her mentor, Viktor (Bill Nighy) after he betrayed her?or something.

Evidently, there’s still some sort of war going on between the vampires and lycans (werewolves) and Selene, a vampire “death dealer,” is trying to keep a tenuous peace?or something.

Now she’s on the run, along with her lover and confidante, Michael (Scott Speedman), a half-vampire, half-Lycan. So with a devil-may-care attitude and the wind at their backs, Selene and Michael take off on all-new adventures through the gothic outback of a pseudo-metropolitan wasteland.

But despite Viktor’s demise, there’s new danger on the horizon for our heroes. We are told through a series of clumsy flashbacks of a plot involving a power-hungry vamp named Marcus (Tony Curran), his imprisoned werewolf brother William and their father, Corvinus (Derek Jacobi). No need to worry about why a werewolf and a vampire are blood brothers-trust me, it’s just not worth it.

Marcus’ plan involves freeing his brother, who has been locked in a tomb for about 1,000 years, and then creating a new master race-a combination of werewolf and vampire.

To clarify some of the more confusing plot details, Wiseman employs a litany of flashbacks showing scenes from the original film, which is only a vain attempt to mask what an inept storyteller he is.

The truth is I might even be getting some of these details wrong-but I can’t be blamed because Wiseman’s storytelling is so shoddy, it’s impossible to keep up with everything that’s going on and even harder to care.

It has been reported that Wiseman plans the “Underworld” series as a trilogy, which means we will probably be subjected to one more of these things.

For Beckinsale’s sake, I hope this is the end.

Wiseman and his writing partner, Danny McBride, seem to think they’ve created a legitimate sci-fi mythology worthy of attention and/or a cult following. The reality, however, is that the “Underworld” series, with its cold and generic visual style and bland dialogue, is just another in a long line of bad vampire movies. It may think it’s something different, but it is sadly mistaken.

If you loved the original, then by all means, be my guest. But “Underworld: Evolution” is worse in every way, from its poor special effects to its confusing action sequences to its lame excuse for a plot. Let’s just say there’s a reason that the studio didn’t let critics see it until 10 p.m. Thursday night.

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