• Film reviews

    #608 – Evolution (2001)

    Evolution (2001)

    Film review #608

    Director: Ivan Reitman

    SYNOPSIS: When a meteor falls from outer space into the Arizona desert, two local college professors make an amazing discovery: the meteor contains microscopic alien life. While the two think they’ll be rich and famous for their discovery, the microbes begin to evolve at an accelerated rate, and soon become full-sized creatures who threaten all like on Earth…

    THOUGHTS/ANALYSIS: Evolution is a 2001 sci-fi film. The film opens with a meteor crashing into Earth somewhere in the Arizona desert, with signs of microscopic alien life. Two college professors make the discovery and keep it to themselves, thinking it will net them the Nobel prize and other such fame and riches. They learn upon examination that the microscopic life forms are evolving at an exponentially accelerated rate, and will quickly develop to be a threat to mankind. Teaming up with a trainee firefighter and a government scientist, they go about trying to stop the evolution before it is too late. One of the most notable things about this film is it obviously wants to be the new millennium’s Ghostbusters: from the director of Ghostbusters, who rewrote the originally more horror/thriller based script to turn it into a comedy, the main characters working at a college/university, and even Dan Akroyd having a minor role. I don’t think it’s up for debate that this ambition went largely unmet. The film isn’t totally terrible, but fails to achieve it’s objectives in a number of ways. The story is very predictable, and offers very little surprises, with the usual thing of the military taking over and cutting the main characters out of the loop, forcing them to save the world on their own. There’s also not enough battling with the creatures too, which somewhat makes sense given they are microscopic for a chunk of the film, but when they are combating the monsters, there’s nothing special or exciting about it, whereas in Ghostbusters had the super cool proton packs and gadgets. It might be unfair to keep comparing a film to another one, but in Evolution‘s case, I think it is completely fair to do so, considering that it clearly wants to be a new Ghostbusters.

    While the leads David Duchovny and Orlando Jones turn in good performances (Duchovny wanting to take this role to move away from his role in the X-files by taking a film about aliens is a bit humourous), they don’t really have the chemistry to carry a lot of the scenes. Duchovny is obviously playing the Bill Murray/Peter Venkman role of the dry humoured personality, while comedian Orlando Jones does the more expressive stuff. This overlaps with Seann William Scott’s role as the trainee firefighter Wayne Grey a little, but he has a more youthful edge to appeal to a different demographic. Julianne Moore as Dr. Allison Reed is introduced as an attempted serious, but clumsy character, but that clumsiness never shows up again, which is odd. There’s some deleted scenes which show it again, but it’s odd that’s left in there at all. The biggest drag in the film is probably the crude humour. While it starts out building up different kinds of humour, it quickly devolves into crude and cheap jokes that offer nothing new. Again, while Ghostbusters blended in the adult humour perfectly with it’s supernatural theme, Evolution tries the same, but comes across a bit of a child’s attempt at adult humour. The film very rarely recovers it’s footing in this regard, and feels like it’s run out of humour fairly quickly.

    The well known actors, as mentioned, do turn in good performances, but there’s often not much to work with in terms of story or unique things for them to do. The creatures are sometimes creative in their designs, but there’s not nearly enough variety in them, and neither do they look “alien” enough to stimulate the imagination. The climax is a bit boring too, with the cast attempting to stop a giant blob by spraying some anti-dandruff shampoo up one of it’s orifices. Overall, Evolution has some entertainment value to it, but it is always going to draw comparisons to Ghostbusters, which it can never meet, thanks to it’s humour constantly misfiring, and a plot that fails to evolve itself beyond it’s very typical cornerstones.