Evolution (Dreamworks) Rated PG-13
Review by Ernest Lilley
 2001 - Dreamworks LLC and Columbia Pictures - All Rights Reserved

Directed by: Ivan Reitman (Ghostbusters) Writing credits: Don Jakoby (story) David Diamond (VI)

Cast: David Duchovny .... Dr. Ira Kane / Orlando Jones .... Dr. Harry Block / Julianne Moore .... Dr. Allison Reed / Seann William Scott .... Wayne Gray / Ted Levine .... General Woodman / Ethan Suplee .... Deke / Michael Bower .... Danny / Pat Kilbane .... Officer Johnson / Ty Burrell .... Flemming / Dan Aykroyd .... Governor of Arizona / Katharine Towne .... Nadine

"Coming to wipe that silly smile off your planet." or "Have A Nice End Of The World"

(source: IMDB: http://us.imdb.com/Title?0251075

Orlando Jones tells the comely coed (Katharine Towne) he's trying to impress: "Nadine, sometime science stinks. It's the game we play, baby."

He's right, and sometimes movies stink too. Evolution is a dead end of a movie and there's about as much danger of a sequel as of a meteor falling on your car. It's got a good idea for a story, a couple cute tag lines, a goofy but memorable logo, and a more or less brand name cast...but it's a good thing it came out the week before Tomb Raider and Atlantis...because when it comes to survival of the fittest...it's a gonner.

Evolution totally lacks chemistry. There no primordial spark, to get things goingin this movie, that's for sure. The aliens aren't even interesting enough to root for against the humans. These are first string CGI, but they are throwaway aliens. And that cute logo with the three eyes and the stupid smile, I don't know what movie it's from, but it isn't this. All our aliens look like terrestrial beasties with gland problems and dye jobs, no surprise since I'm sure Dreamworks recycled other movies CGI templates for the dino-aliens and the ape-aliens.

The good news should have been that Director Ivan "Ghostbusters" Reitman, barely deviated a hair from the classic 50s small town in the southwest is overrun by monsters genre. The most fun I had in the movie was guessing which Classic Sci-Fi film inspired each scene. The bad news turns out to be that without faith, a formula isn't enough to breath life into a movie. Somebody has to actually believe in it, and neither cast nor writers appear to be that somebody.

Reitman was clearly hoping to recover some of that Ghostbusters success by teaming David Duchovny with Orlando Jones and Seann William Scott. Unfortunately, Duchovny isn't Bill Murray, and though Scott tries to impress us with his Jim Carey impersonation, only Orlando Jones shows actual talent. The black stereotyping is pretty egregious though. I want to know if black people really do say "Holy Moly!" when startled by alien dinosaurs.

Some of the characters mysteriously disappear...and the aliens aren't even implicated, as in the case of beauty queen bimbette Nadine, played by Katherine Towne. Though she turns up several times early in the film as Orlando Jones' jones, she vanishes halfway through the film, never to be seen again. Too bad, because she might just have been able to save some credibility for the whole show. I half suspect that she either headed for the hills when she realized what a turkey she was involved in, or that the producers had her taken care of so she wouldn't upstage the heroine, Julianne Moore.

Ms. Moore, supposedly the deputy director of the Center For Disease Control. As a heartthrob, Duchovny can have her, as his character spends considerable energy trying to do. Pratfalls have been chosen for Ms. Moore's comedic core, and she trips and falls through the movie until the audience's patience is bruised. If she had overcome this in the end to do something unexpected, it might have worked, but as it is, the joke goes nowhere...like the rest of the movie.

Incidentally, this is a tribute to 50s SF, where a study once determined that the major cause of death in monster movies was running in high heel shoes. A misplaced tribute, since the scientist always wears sensible flats and can run with the best of them.

It's a shame that they didn't spend more on a script and less on special effects. It's pretty bad when the height of comedy depends on the main characters berating each other for trying to sound like real scientists instead of idiots, which they actually are. I guess Nadine had the right idea...running away.

Still, you might consider renting it when it comes out on video, so you can watch it at home when you're doing something that takes up the majority of your attention.