The cast of "Evolution" stares at some very expensive CGI nothingness.

© 2001 DreamWorks
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"Evolution" (IMDb listing), directed by Ivan Reitman, is a typical sci-fi comedy comparable to "Men in Black" or "Ghostbusters" (which Reitman also directed). We start off with a close-up of a dark, porous surface...as the camera pulls back we see that the dark object is a meteor streaking through space, hurtling towards earth. As the meteor breaks up in our atmosphere, a sizable chunk remains intact and lands in the Arizona desert.

Unfortunately for Wayne Green, a brainless wannabe firefighter ("Dude, Where's My Car?'s" Sean William Scott), the meteor slams into his car as he is practicing for tomorrow's firefighter exam. Meanwhile, two Grand Canyon Community College teachers, Ira Kane (David Duchovny) and Harry Block (Orlando Jones) travel to the meteor site to investigate. What they discover is a meteorite that is rich with an organic alien substance that is composed of quickly evolving micro-organisms. The two wisecracking professors collect the substance, as they dream of picking up the Nobel Prize for their amazing discovery. Ira and Harry's dreams are extinguished however, as they learn that the Army has taken over the site, in that stereotypical "aliens invading earth" movie fashion. The area is closed off to the public, and a mobile research station is set up, complete with barbed wire and armed sentries. The conflict with the Army deepens when Ira has a run-in with the hard-assed Army scientist, Dr. Woodman (Ted Levine). Apparently, Ira was dishonorably discharged from the Army for developing a vaccine, which injured thousands of troops. Dr. Woodman and his phalanx of soldiers and scientists keep Ira and Harry at bay, including Ira's potential love interest, Allison Reed (Julianne Moore), a civilian scientist working for the military.

The Army's inept handling of the alien creatures jeopardizes the safety of the country. The aliens started off as one-celled organisms, but react to our atmosphere by evolving millions of years within a month. One-celled organisms quickly evolve into sinister looking plants, insects, and carnivorous, 4-legged monsters. The unlikely heroes Ira, Harry, their new friend Wayne as well as the defecting Dr. Reed do everything in their power to stop the world from being overrun by the alien menace.

Overall, "Evolution" is just another big summer sci-fi comedy. The mostly CGI creature effects in the movie are fairly decent, ranging from vicious doglike creatures, to enormous flying dinosaurs. Unfortunately, it's nothing we haven't already seen before. David Duchovny seems a bit typecast in a movie involving alien creatures, while Julianne Moore's character, while charming, just doesn't push her acting skill beyond running from CGI creatures that aren't really there, or making goo goo eyes at Duchovny. Jones is given a few funny lines, as well as the resident dunce Scott, but overall the dialogue is by-the-book Hollywood sci-fi comedy. The conflicts aren't really there, because everything the four unlikely heroes do to counteract the alien onslaught always seems to occur without a hitch. There are never any moments in the film where you feel as if the characters' lives are really in danger. I suppose this is the type of movie-going experience parents and children really want to see: a lot of eye-candy, a few witty bits of dialogue, cartoonish violence involving computer-generated creatures, and a happy ending that wraps up neatly at the end. "Evolution" is by no means the worst movie ever made, but as I think back on it, I've already forgotten a lot of what has occurred. If you're looking for your next cinematic junk-culture fix, check out "Evolution."

Filmfodder Grade: C