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EvolutionEvolution on DVD


Ivan Reitman is back in Ghostbusters mode with this tale of an alien life form that comes to earth and wreaks havoc.

David Duchovny gets to spoof his "X-Files" character here, and seems to be having low key fun doing it. He's a fairly tight assed, disgraced scientist working in exile at a small community college in Arizona when a meteorite crashes nearby and he's dragged out to investigate it by friend and coworker Orlando Jones.

They discover some alien goo and bring it back to their lab for analysis, where it turns out that the single cell lifeforms inside are evolving at warp speed - but into what?

Naturally the government takes over and Ira and Harry (Duchovny and Jones) are pushed aside, but they fight back and manage not only to keep involved in the project, but to annoy the establishment powers that be (led by army general Ted Levine and scientist Julianne Moore, who's as tight assed as Duchovny, meaning that it's inevitable that the two will get together).

As the feds take over they muck things up and end up endangering everyone and everything with their ham handed tactics of shooting first and asking questions later. Fortunately, we have the due of Ira and Harry to sort things out, eventually helped by Wayne (Seann William Scott), the guy who first found the meteorite, and Moore's Allison, who finds herself in a real life wonderland.

As with director Reitman's Ghostbusters, the film only takes itself partially seriously and while the characters play their roles straight for the most part there's still plenty of opportunity for laughs, whether from Jones' rather irreverent character or the situations themselves.

Evolution isn't a yukfest, and neither was Ghostbusters. It's an enjoyable romp, however, and well worth seeing if only for the outstanding special effects and the fact that we get to see Duchovny press a ham on camera.

Those special effects, as were Ghostbusters, are state-of-the-art and look absolutely terrific. We get to see creatures evolving from single cell to gigantic, from the weird to the eye-popping, and they're integrated as seamlessly as digital technology now makes possible.

The cast is very good, and the chemistry between Duchovny and Jones and Moore is very good. Moore is also forced to trip over her feet at almost every opportunity and while her klutziness could have been ridiculous in a supposedly bright scientist, she pulls it off.

The movie almost feels like Ghostbusters, which is undoubtedly intentional, with its hip and irreverent take on classic fantastic concepts. The humor is more than a tad bathroom, which is unfortunate, but it manages to work without being totally en-GROSS-ing.

The DVD is very good. It's presented in anamorphic widescreen, 16x9 TV compatible, with Dolby Digital and DTS 5.1 audio soundtracks offered. The picture is razor sharp with rich and bright colors, which make the special effects look even better.

The audio is outstanding, from the music to the sound effects, though we thought the actors' voices came across a tad muffled, almost as if the post production audio was all recorded digitally while the "field work" was done with old fashioned analog equipment.

Perhaps it was. It doesn't spoil one's enjoyment of the DVD, however.

Dreamworks throws plenty of extras at you as well, from a liner notes essay on the evolution of Evolution to a whole raft of special features. You get a commentary track "A conversation with Ivan Reitman, David Duchovny, Orlando Jones and Seann William Scott," deleted scenes (that, as usual, should have been deleted), a section of the film's storyboards, a special effects featurette, and an HBO "First Look" promotional feature.

And that isn't all. You also get a photo gallery, Ivan Reitman retrospective, trailer and more.

In all, not a great movie in the grand scheme of things, but an enjoyable DVD that makes excellent use of the technology.

Evolution, from Dreamworks Home Video
102 min. anamorphic widescreen (1.85:1), 16x9 TV compatible, Dolby Digital and DTS 5.1 surround sound.
Starring David Duchovny, Orlando Jones, Julianne Moore, Seann William Scott
Produced by Ivan Reitman, Daniel Goldberg, Joe Medjuck
Written by David Diamond & David Weissman and Don Jakoby, Directed by Ivan Reitman


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Updated May 13, 2006