A 2001 sci-fi comedy film directed by Ivan Reitman (of Ghostbusters fame), and released by Columbia Pictures and Dreamworks.Glen Canyon, Arizona, The Present Day. Wayne Grey (Seann William Scott), practicing at night in the desert for his upcoming firefighter entrance exam, witnesses the impact of a meteor. The next day, biology teacher Dr. Ira Kane (David Duchovny) and geology teacher Harry Block (Orlando Jones) from Glen Canyon Community College manage to get to the meteor, which is stuck in the ground at the bottom of an underground cave. By taking a sample, they discover a slimy blue fluid coming out of the meteor.A little later, Ira finds out that myriad single-celled life-forms dwell in the fluid, evolve at an incredible rate, even while he's watching. What first seems like a sure ticket to Sweden for the Nobel Prize soon develops into a nightmare: by evolving and adapting at that unbelievably fast rate, the aliens start spreading out, killing people, and the military — led by General Woodman (Ted Levine), who's accompanied by epidemiologist Dr. Allison Reed (Julianne Moore) — comes in. Now it all comes down to what Darwin so rightfully stated: Survival of the fittest...It gave rise to a short-lived animated series, Alienators: Evolution Continues.
Evolution contains examples of:
Actor Allusion: Ira doesn't trust government types because "I know these people." In-universe, he knows because he's an ex-army colonel. However, David Duchovny's previous role as Agent Fox Mulder is a notorious Conspiracy Theorist. This is especially notable because it wasn't on purpose; the director had never seen The X-Files.
But those making the trailer evidently did, as it's used in quite a few.
Adaptive Ability: Thanks to thousands of years of evolution artificially sped up by the energy reaction from the meteor, the organisms from the meteorite spit out creatures that become increasingly more resilient to oxygen - which is normally lethal to the organisms.
Artistic License - Chemistry: The heroes figure out the weakness of the nitrogen-based aliens by comparing arbitrary patterns on the Periodic Table of Elements. "Hmm, well, Arsenic is the weakness of carbon-based life-forms, and Arsenic is two down and one across from Carbon. So that means that the weakness of the nitrogen-based life-forms must also be two down and one across!" Of course, because this isa comedy film, the logic is perfectly sound.
In a sense, it's not as crazy as it sounds — the periodic table isn't arbitrary, its organization reflects properties of the elements in the table, so the geometric relationship between elements as displayed on the table can be relevant to their chemical relationship in reality. Of course, in this case, the conclusion is still utter nonsense.
Asshole Victim: Wayne's boss, who is eaten by an alien when he is about to have sex with a woman on a golf course.
Wayne: (trying to suppress a grin) "Well, uh... that's too bad."
Also, the shoplifting teen girl in the mall, who gets attacked by one of the pterodactyl creatures, although she survives.
Bloodless Carnage: A lot of people are attacked and mauled by the evolving life-forms, with little mess to show for it. A flying raptor takes several slugs at point-blank range, and there's STILL no gore.
Brick Joke: Near the beginning, Nadine mentions that her ambition is to be Miss Arizona. At the end, she can be seen in the background wearing a "Miss Arizona" sash.
Call a Smeerp a "Rabbit": For some reason, the lead characters refuse to call the obviously dragon/raptor-looking flying aliens that, and instead insist on calling them "birds." Maybe it's a case of Not Using the Z Word, and they're not shown to be capable of breathing fire either.
Earlier models of the dragon/raptor actually show it to look a lot more like a featherless oviraptor. Now that would have been weird.
Can't Get Away with Nuthin' : In one scene, a shoplifter is wearing her stolen clothes under her already-worn ones. As she comes out of the dressing room, she's snatched away by the flying raptor. Once she's rescued, she vows never to shoplift again to a somewhat confused Harry.
It's actually fortunate for her she was wearing the layers, as without them, the claws of the bird thing could have badly hurt her.
Everything's Better with Monkeys: Shortly after the alien life-forms reach a simian stage of evolution, they get napalmed. And are crushed by one cell. These are the fastest and most violent things to come out of the ecosystem, in the short time they're seen before they're crushed.
Eureka Moment: Two of these happen; one leads to the discovery that fire makes the beings grow faster, while the other leads to the discovery that selenium kills them.
Evolutionary Levels: Played with. In fact, the later stages of the habitat spawn dinosaur-like creatures and apes. But the last creature to appear is a nigh-unkillable (well, except for the occasional enema) amoeba-like creature. This is lampshaded in the movie.
The director's commentary explains that the final evolution was supposed to be an Ultimate Life Form, evolved beyond primates, beyond humans. The problem was that it wasn't "big" enough; so was replaced with the amoeba.
Everything Trying to Kill You: Oddly enough averted, given the type of movie it was. When Ira and Harry go down into the underground alien world, almost none of the creatures try to harm them. There was a carnivorous tree, but really the only one to go after anyone was that big mosquito.
Nadine: Um, Professor, the little wiggly worm things in there are breaking. Ira: It's not breaking, it's splitting. It's mitosis. It's how they reproduce. Harry: No sex? Ira: No time for sex. Nadine: Bummer.
Non-Malicious Monster: The aliens are hostile all right, but they're not evil. They are just lost and confused on a strange planet.
Nuke 'em: Offered as a solution to the alien problem, but the military decides to use napalm instead. Considering what napalm eventually does to the alien lifeforms, one shudders to think what would have happened if the military had taken the nuclear option.
Product Placement: Head & Shoulder's dandruff-killing formula also happens to kill aliens. This is parodied after the end of the movie, where the actors do a cliched commercial with forced smiles. And Harry holding his bottle backwards.
Spreading Disaster Map Graphic: A map is used to show how the highly-adaptive alien lifeforms will own the United States in about a month from when they start to expand from the impact site in Glen Canyon.
Starfish Aliens: While the latter aliens resemble dragons, apes and giant single-celled monstrosities respectively, the aliens earlier in the animated series look really odd by Earth standards. Sketches of some storyboards show even more strange aliens, including trees with metallic scales (possibly based on Earth's Lepidodendron?).
The earlier aliens do look pretty weird, but there's some pretty weird stuff in Earth's evolutionary history too; some of the Burgess Shale critters are pretty strange in their own right.
They're supposed to be "nitrogen-based lifeforms." As anyone with a background in chemistry could tell you, this wouldn't work.
Small Name, Big Ego: Somewhat subverted. Harry is well-aware that he's not on the same-level (scientifically) as Ira or Allison, but that doesn't stop him from milking what he does know for all it's worth.
What Could Have Been: The film was originally pitched as a serious drama to Columbia and DreamWorks; but when Ivan Reitman came on board, he had different ideas.
According to some design sketches, the final form of the alien's evolution would've been a much more humanoid form. However, seeing how difficult about how to make this a realistic threat, they decided with the giant cell.