Australian Reviews and Articles
CAST: David Duchovny, Julianne Moore, Orlando Jones, Seann William Scott, Ted Levine, Ty Burrell, Dan Aykroyd
PRODUCERS: Daniel Goldberg, Joe Medjuck, Ivan Reitman
DIRECTOR: Ivan Reitman
SCRIPT: David Diamond, David Weissman, Don Jakoby
CINEMATOGRAPHER: Michael Chapman
EDITOR: Wendy Greene Bricmont, Sheldon Kahn
MUSIC: John Powell
PRODUCTION DESIGN: J. Michael Riva
RUNNING TIME: too long
AUSTRALIAN DISTRIBUTOR: Col Tristar
AUSTRALIAN RELEASE: July 12, 2001
Chaos ensues when a meteor lands in an Arizona field, oozing with a liquid that contains an alien life form that evolves faster than you can say ‘wow’. Ira (David Duchovny), Harry (Orlando Jones) and Allison (Julianne Moore) are quasi scientists who get to the meteor first, but are gazumped by the military, led by General Woodman (Ted Levine). As the alien creatures grow, multiply and diversify before their very eyes, the human forces scramble and stumble – with useless help from some of their fellows - to find a way of containing, defeating or killing them.
Call it a comic sci-fi creature feature by genre definition, but Evolution is actually a disaster movie. Rather, a movie disaster. The comic tone, while quite unfunny, is enough to make the film’s aliens-invade-earth-and multiply scenario less than terrifying, while the direction and performances are lodged between high camp, farce and zombie. It’s a snore of a script, weak and plastic in its attempts at humour, sometimes embarrassingly clunky both in content and delivery. If it is meant to be a spoof on the genre, it should have sharpened the script and lifted the performances. If it is meant as a frolic, it should be less heavy handed. Is it a date movie? Well, maybe – if you’re both CGI trainees. Looking at the talented cast and crew assembled, my kindest assessment is that Evolution just didn’t evolve enough as a movie, and has ended up a gross error of creative judgement by all concerned. In other words, there is less to this movie than meets the eye.
Andrew L. Urban
I overheard one very well known film reviewer sum up this sci-fi comedy thus: "how could all those people with so much talent make such a piece of shit". I couldn't agree more, although I do wonder what this particular critic will actually say when he reviews it on national television (guess who, don't sue!). The tone is dire immediately as wannabe fireman Wayne (Seann William Scott) plays pretend rescue with a blow-up sex doll in a lonely shack he's torched before the meteor hits, unfortunately just missing him and paving the way for his unwelcome return. It gets no better as the uncharismatic David Duchovny and annoying sidekick Orlando Jones enter the picture; Duchovny willing to buy laughs at any price by mooning the hard-arse General who's taken him and Jones out of the loop. All hope is lost when it becomes clear there's zero romantic or comedic chemistry between Duchovny and Julianne Moore. What the magnificent Moore is doing here is anyone's guess. I suggest a good behaviour bond for this indiscretion - she's clearly fallen in with the wrong crowd. This may have all the latest special effects (yawn) but without characters we like and sympathise with, who cares? This is a spare parts movie and a bad one at that. You've seen just about everything here done much better in Mars Attacks, Tremors and Independence Day, to name a few. It's worth noting that the original script by Don Jakoby was a sci-fi thriller until Reitman decided it could be made as brain dead comedy. I found this dull after 10 minutes and intolerable by the half way point. I kept thinking about things I'd rather be doing, like paying the electricity bill or scraping mould off the shower recess. Both are much more attractive propositions than this lifeless, deadly unfunny stinker.
Director Ivan Reitman is a champion of good-natured comedy. He made a mockery of the military in Stripes, a farce of the American presidency in Dave, and a stooge of Arnold Schwarzenegger in Twins, Kindergarten Cop, and Junior. But Reitman is best known for his box office hit Ghostbusters, and he makes a retread of that film's comic formula in Evolution. Again we have three oddball wannabes trying to save the world from marauding creatures. In Ghostbusters it was spooks in New York City. In Evolution it's aliens in Arizona. It's a wacky if routine comedy which - despite the possibilities - elicits more smirks than laughs. There are some nice moments, like when a mosquito-like alien enters Block's body, and we understand just where it entered by the wideness of his eyes. Never fear - Block gets his revenge in the finale, attacking the amoebic alien beast that Wayne calls "A giant loogie!'' by squirting shampoo where the sun don't shine. Don't ask. Much of the comedy plays upon Duchovny's dead-pan X-Files persona. He's says "I know those government guys - you can't trust them'' one moment and moons them the next. Orlando Jones (from The Replacements) plays his comic foil to a tee, but it's easy to see that Hollywood has yet to realise his true potential. Outshining them all is American Pie's/Road Trip's Seann William Scott, who goes into "Whoa, dude'' overdrive to play the numskull suspiciously like it's second-nature. Unfortunately, Evolution is let down by Julianne Moore's first, and probably last, attempt at comedy. She plays the accident-prone scientist as straight as she's played Clarice Starling in Hannibal, and it's dead unfunny. As for the alien beasts, Reitman wastes a perfect opportunity to have fun with the genre and the special effects at his fingertips. These guys multiply into various creatures, but they aren't menacing enough to be a threat (a la Starship Troopers), nor cute enough to be friendly (a la Ghostbusters, ET, Gremlins). Evolution finally goes off the rails in the climax, and although it's in the name of good fun, one hopes these bugs don't spawn a sequel.
Shannon J. Harvey
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