Behind the simple title Evolution hides a lighthearted science-fiction comedy featuring an interesting twist on the alien invasion subgenre. The director is Ivan Reitman, the man behind the eighties megahit Ghostbusters. The movie tries to replicate that formula of the easygoing kid-friendly movie for the new century. Ultimately, the movie proved a bit too naive and silly for the new and quite cynical 21st century. This is perhaps the reason why it was so easily forgotten in the following years. Originally, Evolution was supposed to be a serious science fiction movie. However, when Reitman got the script, he decided to adapt it into a more familiar and stereotypical tale.
Despite all of this, Evolution is a good movie worth watching. It’s pacey and charming, and it features excellent special effects. The CGI from more than twenty years ago still looks believable, especially when it comes to all the little creatures. And those creatures are one of the movie’s main selling points. I remember playing the video game Spore many years ago and making all kinds of creatures through the process of evolution. And I also remember just being blown away by this movie when it first came out. Starring David Duchovny, Orlando Jones, Julianne Moore and, more importantly for me at that time, Seann William Scott, almost the entire cast did a terrific job.
However, I do think that Duchovny was a bit too lethargic for this type of role. In fact, I’m not his biggest fan as I think he can only play Fox Mulder and that’s it. And I did check him out in Californication and other movies. Just a couple of weeks ago I watched him give the same low-energy performance in Pet Sematary: Bloodlines. Luckily, the rest of the cast picked up the slack, especially Jones who was absolutely stellar. And the supporting cast is quite strong as well. We’ve got Ty Burrell (Modern Family) in one of his first roles, Mr. Kyle Gass, and Sarah Silverman who they barely prevented from taking off her shirt.
Evolution is, after all, a PG movie for teens and those who enjoy a more casual blend of science fiction and comedy. This also means that the humor will be quite juvenile although I did chuckle a couple of times. Probably because there’s also a surprising amount of jokes and gags revolving around male buttholes. I hope that might interest those who like raunchier or toilet humor. And I do count myself among them. The story follows the aftermath of a meteor crash in Arizona. Two local scientists arrive first at the scene and notice something strange about this meteor. It would appear that it has some sort of liquid coming out of it.
Liquid that would turn out to contain alien life. Things go quickly out of hand from there. Finally, we have an alien invasion movie where aliens “land” somewhere else than California or New York. To counter that we have probably the most blatant product placement in the entire movie history. I’m not going to tell you what it is, you’ll have to check out the finale to find that out. It’s funny to think that this is probably the last movie of this type. We can look at the latest Ghostbusters reboot to see what the modern blend of science fiction and comedy looks like. So, if you’re feeling nostalgic about the “good old days”, this is the right choice for you.
Evolution comes at a long wave of big nineties science fiction movies like Men in Black and Godzilla. We also have not one but two movies about a meteor striking the Earth with Armageddon and Deep Impact. However, I think that the closest movie to this one is the 1996 parody of the fifties alien invasion movies Mars Attacks! Or, if you’re in the mood for something a bit scarier, The Faculty is an excellent choice.
Director: Ivan Reitman
Writers: Don Jakoby, David Diamond, David Weissman
Cast: David Duchovny, Orlando Jones, Julianne Moore, Seann William Scott, Dan Aykroyd
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