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Evolution (2001)

Dir: Ivan Reitman

Stars: David Duchovny (Ira Kane), Julianne Moore (Allison), Orlando Jones (Harry Block), Sean William Scott (Wayne)

Evolution (2001)Wayne is a waiter at a country club but has aspirations to be a fireman. Sadly though his future career prospects are sharply curtailed by the arrival of a meteor which wrecks his car and his ability to perform at the next day’s fireman exam. These minor personal problems pale into insignificance when it is discovered the meteor contains organisms of extraterrestrial nature, organisms that have the ability to evolve as a frightening rate turning millions of years into mere hours. The first scientists on the scene are Harry Block, a volleyball coach and part-time professor, and Ira Kane, the disgraced ex-Pentagon scientist forced to teach chemistry at the local college. Naturally the government ascertain the importance of the situation and put an end to Harry and Ira’s dreams of a Nobel prize, blocking off the meteor crash site for their own hi-tech tests. Before long it becomes apparent that the super evolution of these alien organisms threatens not only the state of Arizona but the United States and the whole world, for as the alien cultures climb the Darwinian ladder from flatworms to primates it is clear that the human race faces possible extinction. Even the initial hurdle of being unable to breathe oxygen is quickly overcome as tens of millions of years zip by in an instant. Who can possibly save the human race? Can the army contain the problem? Will Ira find true love? Will Harry’s volleyball team ever make it to the major league? The whole make-up of the future of the world was decided in petri dish and sealed by man’s inability to realise the danger in time…

Ivan Reitman returns to the comedy world of Ghostbusters that made him a force to be reckoned with by introducing us to another team of scientific misfits facing insurmountable odds with a bizarre array of home-made gadgets. Instead of facing the supernatural, this time the threat is of extraterrestrial origin, brought to Earth via a meteorite. Also unlike Ghostbusters the team take the majority of the running time to get together leaving Duchovny and Jones to hold most of the movie. Unfortunately the pair lacked the manic intensity of, say, Bill Murray and at best invoke mild smiles rather than out and out belly laughs – the template used here is that of the ostensibly similar Men In Black. Throughout the film the comedy is too little and too lame, its origin as a serious science-fiction horror film is all too clear, the addition of a variety of arse gags may well place it in the current trend towards gross comedy but does little to inspire audience enthusiasm. Where the film does succeed is in its prime concept and in the execution of the major monsters on show; rather like the pantheon of beasts that litter the Ghostbusters films these range from the mildly scary to the strangely doe-eyed, and do at least provide a fair modicum of jumps and some diverting set pieces. Ultimately though the tired sexism and cliched ending (despite featuring a most bizarre use of product placement) take its toll and the end result is nothing more than 90 minutes of diversion. File under “must try harder”.