US 2001
director : Ivan Reitman
script : David Diamond, David Weissman, Don Jakoby (story by Jakoby)
producers include : Reitman
cinematography : Michael Chapman
editing : Sheldon Kahn, Wendy Greene Bricmont
music : John Powell
lead actors : David Duchovny, Orlando Jones, Seann William Scott, Julianne Moore
102 minutes

Director Reitman is still best known for his Ghostbusters smash-hits, and Evolution is a blatant attempt to aim for the same spectacular-but-goofy sci-fi funnybone – right down to a cameo from Dan Aykroyd. The premise is solid: a meteorite crash-lands near a small Arizona town, depositing organisms that proceed to evolve at an astronomically fast rate. Barely days after local scientists Duchovny and Jones have worked out what’s going on, the place is overrun by a selection of bizarre alien lifeforms. This attracts the attention of government boffins (Moore, slumming again) and the inevitable trigger-happy military brass, who naturally want to blast the new arrivals out of existence.

The climax is suitably eye-popping, even if it does involve the scientists spraying vast quantities of a certain well-known brand of anti-dandruff shampoo up a vast alien arsehole. But it takes forever to get there – the preceding couple of hours are neither as funny nor as imaginative as they should be, plucking bits from Jurassic Park, Species and The X-Files and wasting time on tedious business like Duchovny and Moore’s lukewarm romance. On the plus side, Scott (Final Destination, American Pie) is his usual, entertainingly dopey self, and it’s important to remember how fiercely controversial the title subject still is in much of America. For an undemanding night out, it just about fits the bill – but 80s cult favourite Tremors did the same kind of thing with much more zap and energy. This is a lumbering FX-heavy beast in comparison, a few steps back down cinema’s version of the evolutionary ladder.

11th June, 2001

by Neil Young
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