30 Days of Night: Dark Days by D. B. Bates – February 2, 2011 –
To its credit, 30 Days of Night: Dark Days starts with another brilliant premise to exploit — the polar (pun intended) opposite of the first film. Instead of setting the film in a land of eternal darkness, the filmmakers move the location to sunny Los Angeles. What a great idea — putting the vampires on the defensive instead of the offensive, forcing them into hiding in much the same way humans were forced into hiding in the first film. Considering it follows a ragtag group of vampire hunters, this could have been a great opportunity to explore a moral gray area — have the hunters leveled the playing field by forcing all the vampires to clump together in easily destroyed nests, or have they turned into the same sort of monsters? Do the filmmakers make clever use of this incongruous setting? Nope! The vast majority of this film takes place entirely at night, and with the exception of an unintentionally comical scene in which vampires (looking like pale extras from The Matrix) are flushed out using high-intensity UV lamps, there’s not a single reference to the sun.
The by Matt Wedge – December 31, 2010 –
This is just one of the many lapses in logic presented by the film’s four (!) writers and director Tim Iacofano. While The Cell also had severe plot gaps, director Tarsem Singh was able to use the script as a jumping off point to indulge in some truly breathtaking visuals that coupled with his skill at buiding suspense to create a film that was more than the sum of its parts. The filmmakers behind The Cell 2 have no such bold plans, settling for a dreadfully dull serial killer thriller with a perfunctory supernatural twist.
Road House 2: Last Call by D. B. Bates – November 26, 2010 –
Making a good sequel — particularly one that contains none of the actors, characters, or locations from the original film — requires one thing above all else: getting the tone right. Anybody sitting down to watch Road House 2: Last Call will expect a campy, fun action movie that takes place in the same outsized world of legendary coolers, over-tanned villains, and internal strife revolving around torn-out throats. What they get is a standard dull DTV action film whose only ties to the original film are repeated quotes of its memorable dialogue.
Save the Last Dance 2 by D. B. Bates – December 31, 2010 –
The first Save the Last Dance may not have been a masterpiece, but it did two things exceptionally well. It took the tropes of a stale, cliché-ridden genre and turned it into a thoughtful, character-driven drama. It also allowed the characters to learn from each other, rather than having one character serve as the driving force for change. When Derek abandons his gangsta thug friends to arrive at Sara’s Juilliard audition at just the right moment, audiences could breathe a sigh of relief. It seemed like these two crazy kids were going to make it, and what’s more — we wanted them to make it.
Single White Female 2: The Psycho by D. B. Bates – February 7, 2011 –
I admit recommending Single White Female 2: The Psycho is a tough sell. A direct-to-video sequel whose biggest name (Brooke Burns) went from Baywatch to reality game-show host doesn’t seem like the sort of movie any rational person would want to watch. It has the aesthetic, soundtrack, and acting caliber of softcore porn, although without the rampant nudity. It’s less a sequel than a knockoff that may have become a sequel either to avoid litigation or to capitalize on its very derivativeness. In short, it’s not really a good movie. However, the film’s story suffers from the same sort of schizophrenia as its chief villain, which makes it one of the most purely entertaining direct-to-video sequels I’ve ever seen. (Again, don’t misconstrue narrative craziness as high quality — you should know what you’re getting into and whether or not you’ll want to endure it.)
WarGames: The Dead Code by D. B. Bates – February 21, 2011 –
From that point, it’s pretty much a dumbed-down remake of the first film. Director Stuart Gillard tosses in numerous references to the original film (including the presence of WOPR, who must “fight” RIPLEY at a certain point) that come across more like cheap nostalgia than worthwhile homage. Maybe that’s because it literally steals the best moments of the first film, unabashedly and without commentary.
Wrong Turn 2: Dead End by Matt Wedge – November 15, 2010 –
I watch too many horror movies. It’s a personal weakness, and one that often leads me into films of questionable taste. This, of course, is a nice way of saying I watch a lot of films that are utter crap. Despite the low odds of catching a winner, I stick with the genre and its many subcategories. Among the more grotesque and infamous subcategories are the cannibal films. Often they exist merely to shock and disgust the viewer. A good story, decent acting, competent directing, or even scares are less important than numerous scenes of people being gutted and dismembered in preparation for the frying pan. Overall, it’s one of my least favorite subcategories of the horror genre, often leaving me cold and thankful that I’m a vegetarian. In many ways, Wrong Turn 2: Dead End is the prototypical lazy, disgusting cannibal film.