Evolution (2001)

Untitled-1Evolution is not out to win any science awards, or any Nobel Prizes. It’s not meant to teach or explain. In fact, most of its characters don’t even know what’s going on themselves. It exists to give us a good time, and for the most part, it does.

Ira Kane (David Duchovny) and Harry Block (Orlando Jones) are professors at the Glen Canyon college. After a meteor strikes, they are drawn to analyze its molecular structure. Like all good old inquisitive scientists, they are determined to keep their discovery a secret. Because who wants government intervention? But it doesn’t take a genius to tell you that the government gets involved, and in good old fashioned Hollywood style, the government messes everything up.

They send a military team, led by Ira’s former co-worker, General Woodman (Ted Levine), to assess the situation and take the necessary actions, which usually involves blowing stuff up. Also brought in is another geeky scientist, Allison Reed (Julianne Moore), who is initially contracted by the government, but switches sides after disagreeing with the military’s underhanded tactics. She’s a bumbling klutz, which is kind of funny. But Evolution gets most of its laughs from the threeway chemistry between Allison, Ira, and Harry.

Together, the trio forms something that resembles college friendship. They’re funny, naturally funny. They share candid moments, and they give off the vibe that they’ve known each other for years and years. There’s a certain joy in the way they carry out their work, and it carries the movie to a much more entertaining level.

Anyway, the meteor that has crash landed contains some sort of single-celled organism, similar to the one every single life form on Earth is said to have originated from. But Ira notices something different. The cells multiply at an alarming rate, and before you can say the word “infestation”, the crater is crawling with creatures that seem to have popped out of Skull Island. It’s an entire ecosystem, complete with food chain and sustainable air. The only catch is: The creatures can’t breathe outside their atmosphere. That is, until they adapt to do so.

Once they do, they begin to terrorize the locals–there’s a rather amusing scene in the local shopping mall involving an innocent girl, a winged beast, and Seann William Scott singing in the atrium. The evolution rate is so fast that before long, apes emerge. These aren’t the apes we see in 2001: A Space Odyssey; they’re sort of hybrid, evil apes. And they are the final straw. They trigger an immediate response from the military, who decides to blow up the crater. Nuke ’em! Perhaps the filmmakers are trying to make a comment on human nature, for only when the humans in the movie come face to face with their ancestors do they choose to take action. No one ever likes their own reflection, or the reflection of their past.

Ivan Reitman, the movie’s director, seems to embrace the phrase “the bigger the better”. The climax of Evolution sees our heroes administer a massive enema to an overgrown amoeba. It’s such a mess that it’s enjoyable, though I would’ve loved to see the size of the creatures that would have evolved from such a monstrous cell.

Fun, laughter, monsters, simple plot, likable characters. There’s not much to dislike about Evolution. It’s the kind of movie you’d sit back and tune out to. You don’t have to feel guilty for doing so either; every single character in the movie has their brains tuned out too.

Best Moment | The wonderful Head & Shoulders plug at the end of the movie.

Worst Moment | Hmmmm. Nope.

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