Audiences that fed into its predecessor's mix of horror and exploitive double-gun action will be pleased with Underworld: Evolution, a pulpy sequel that soberly soaks in its own mythology while delivering a less derivative retread of the pop-cinema imagery that critically killed the first film. No doubt about it, the picture is still a latex lover's dream, but at least there's a bit more of the monsters this time around to balance the genre-bending cocktail. As was the first film's strength, the best thing here is the story, which continues to expand the better-than-average underworld folklore. Also impressive are the creature effects, which have been given a well-needed overhaul from the hyena-like werewolf wannabes of the first film. Kate Beckinsale once again shoulders the goth dramatics efficiently, with a brief flashback appearance by Bill Nighy stealing the show in just the few minutes that open the film. There are still plenty of silly questions left to be answered, the biggest being why Beckinsale's character inherited special powers in the final reel only to fall back on gun theatrics in the big showdown -- then again, maybe that's to be expected in an Underworld movie. These flicks aren't solid gold, but they are stylized distractions that the masses can easily eat up. And if that means big monster shoot-outs, then so be it.