Friday, March 18, 2005

The Ring 2 does NOT ring my bell

The only thing that can keep me from my usual bedtime on a school night are the good old Arclight Cinemas Thursday night midnight screenings of big films that are coming out that weekend. It's perfectly tailored for those film enthusiasts(read as nerds), who just can't wait the extra 18 hours and need to get their fix immediately, even at the cost of sleep deprivation. Someone just like myself.

If only I hadn't given up a good night's sleep for a film as ho hum as The Ring 2.

Now I was a big fan of The Ring. The first time I saw it was at a preview screening hosted by Dreamworks and Aintitcool in Pasadena. The special FX had not been completed and some of the music track, etc. were still being fine tuned. None the less, I was quite impressed. I thought it was effectively terrifying, well directed with a snazzy visual style, and had an interesting story that engaged the audience. I consider myself to be fairly tolerant when it comes to horror films, but I couldn't sleep for a week after I saw The Ring.

Generally people seem to be divided into two camps on the first film. Either they cried for their blue blanket when they turned the lights out at night, or they thought it was a load of hooey, not a lot of middle ground. Admittedly when I first heard of the plot - a videotape that kills people a week after they see it, I thought it was a bit of hokey myself. I was glad to discover upon seeing the film that it had a fairly layered plot which included a mystery, and a freaky little girl (not just a freaky little video tape) Sadly, The Ring 2 will only create one camp of viewers; those who were largely underwhelmed.

Everything about this movie pissed me off. First of all, the marketing gurus over at Dreamworks have been wisely creating a hullabaloo about the Collector's Edition of the The Ring, which was released a week ago. On this supposed "collector's DVD set" was a short film entitled RINGS, which covered important information and events that took place inbetween the first and the second films. Me, being the easily suckered geek that I am, ran out to get this "collector's edition" immediately. Allow me to impart a word of advice. Don't bother. The "set" is merely a cheap shrink wrapped bundled, that includes the originally released DVD of the Ring in its orginal packaging, and then a second seperately packaged DVD that has the short film RINGS on it. The secondary DVD also has some trailers on it and one of those really uninformative filler documentaries called "The origin of Horror." The film RINGS was somewhat interesting. It showed a group of high school kids who had gotten a hold of the infamous tape and were passing it around amongst their peers. They had learned quickly that even if you watched the tape, as long as you made a copy and made someone else watch it, you would not die in seven days. The short focuses on the story of one particular teen who has watched the tape, but cannot find anyone else to watch his copy.

What was clever, was that The Ring 2 started off exactly where RINGS ended. It had the same teen from RINGS, who had finally convinced a fellow classmate to watch the tape. He has done so with only a few minutes before his seven days are up. We then watch how this situation plays out. Unfortunately the cleverness ends there; other than the first five minutes of the film, there are no other real connections between the short film and the sequel. So not worth the $20 bucks at Virgin...

As the film gets rolling we see our two heros from the first film, Rachel played by Naomi Watts, and Aidan, played by a good but creepy child actor. One of the most disturbing facets of the film has to be that Naomi Watts looks about five years younger, and ten pounds thinner in the sequel than she did in the first film. Ah, Hollywood.

I'll try not to get include any spoilers here, but to the detriment of the film, the plot does not manifest itself as anything more than the trailer . The entire film can be summed up pretty simply. Samara has returned to enact her revenge upon Rachel and Aidan. This time her tactic is to try and posses Aidan; "She wants to be him" is what Naomi Watts quavers in the trailer. Rachel then tries to save her son by doing some rushed investigative reporting, but the "secrets" she unearths about Samara and her background aren't nearly as compelling the second time around. Blah, generic dialogue neatly matched the unoriginal plot.

Besides the straightforward lackluster plot, the director Hideo Nakata, who directed the original Japanese films, Ringu and Ringu 2, left a lot to be desired. The actors were a bit wooden, and their characterizations were less than solid. His visual style, or lack there of, did not hold a candle to the atmospheric mise en cine that Gore Verbinksi created in the first film. One of the strong points of the first film was how well it was shot, Verbkinski made very specific visual choices to tell that story. The Ring 2 was fairly bland in its composition, and Nakata and his DP seemed to find it amusing to see how many shots they could include with a quarter moon that looked just like the one from the Dreamworks logo. There were some moments with cool visual FX, but not enough to counteract the film's lack of sufficient scares and general eeriness. Certainly not enough to bouy the sinking feeling in your stomach that you had just shelled out your good hard earned money to watch this dud.


See, even Naomi's pissed.


Blogger DoorFrame said...

But you didn't mention the best part of the first film, nor whether the same element was present in the second. The Ring offered us fans of animal brutality the second best major motion picture animal death in the history of film. Does the sequel continue this traditional of pointless, yet somehow satisfying, horse cruelty?

4:59 AM  
Blogger The New Yorker said...

No it doesn't exactly. It does however try to replicate the animal creepiness of that scene with another one using cariboo and crappy special FX. Boo, I say.

9:15 PM  

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