Evolution

Are we not men?

Coca-Cola saved the Independence Day. In Twister, Pepsi was the one to solve a problem. The James Bond series has become a catalogue of cool new toys. And didn’t a Dr. Pepper machine (in the Roman Coliseum of all places) save Van Damme and Rodman in Double Team? Or was it Mountain Dew? Where will this product placement end? Should we expect Lara Croft to be rescued by a Maxi Pad in Tomb Raider 2?

It’s this kind of blatant product placement that Ivan Reitman – the man who made Stay-Puft marshmallows into a villain with Ghostbusters – attempts to send up in Evolution. He doesn’t succeed 100%, but it was an idea worth trying I suppose.

Evolution, by the way, is a breezy comedy about two community college professors (played by David Duchovny, who gets in some X-Files jokes, and 7-Up pitchman Orlando Jones) who discover a simple form of life on board a newly crashed meteorite. They soon learn that the bugs are evolving at an incredible rate, and will threaten all other life on Earth if allowed to continue their development – kinda like teenagers. Before they can get any credit for the discovery, the crash site is bottled up by Army brass, and our boys are kept out of the action.

This is where it starts getting really dumb, as the “locals” (Duchovny and Jones) and the government team led by Ted Levine (The Mangler) act more like competing frats than scientists, with cheerleader/biologist Julianne Moore (Hannibal) switching sides halfway through. Instead of having the heroes on the side of E.T., both sides want to destroy the visitors, but they keep fighting over how to do it right. Another problem is Jones, who can be funny, but tends to play the race card too often (“This is where the black guy dies!”).

If you can get past some HUGE gaps in logic, and some soft, mushy science, then Evolution is quite a hoot and a good time will be had by all. A lot of the humor works, and the special effects go beyond today’s raised expectations, showing off an alien zoo full of wild critters.

The idea for Evolution was thought up by Don Jakoby, who has a bit of experience with monsters. His resume includes Vampires, Arachnophobia,¬†Lifeforce, Invaders from Mars, and the aforementioned Double Team. Rumor has it this¬†began as a serious thriller, but Reitman saw comic possibilities in it. I would’ve ended it by having all defenses fail, then having the aliens evolve past humans and return to space – but then, who’s paying me to be a script doctor?

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