This time around, I felt I should discuss two sequels that aren’t as good as their predecessors, though vary in range from terrible to still oddly entertaining. Both have large casts, and both are sequels of movies with large casts (and both have survivors of the previous mingling with the new bunch). Ironically, both also have relatives of somebody who died in the first coming back to seek revenge on the one seen as responsible. And as both are sequels to movies in which a lot of people die, expect spoilers (for the originals, anyway). The first on the list is the sequel to a decent film (based on a much better book), Battle Royale, which I just recently reviewed. The second on the list is a sequel to one of my favorite horror/comedies, Feast. So without further ado, here are the reviews.
Battle Royale II: Requiem.
So I finally watched the sequel, which I had heard was not nearly as good as the first film (and as I didn’t think the first film could have been as good as it should have been, either, I found this slightly difficult to believe). Unfortunately, they were right. The movie picks up three years after the first film. Shuya has turned into an international terrorist, forming a group known as the Wild Sevens (Wild Seven being his own nickname in the book). The government decides to reinstitute the Battle Royale program, though by altering it a bit first. Instead of the class having to kill each other, they are taken to a remote island where the Wild Sevens are hiding out and are told to work together to kill Shuya. Also, the collars are back, but slightly different. They work in pairs now, so if your other half dies, so do you. And to add in some more drama, the daughter of the first movie’s teacher transferred herself into the game so that she can take vengeance on Shuya (even though, you know, she hated her father).
This movie did have some really good ideas. However, they were all executed poorly. Whether it had to do with a rushed scripting or the death of the movie’s original director early on (his son took over), something happened here. Much like the first movie, I felt a lot was being left out. The movie, to me, might have worked a lot better as a book with a lot more details and background information put in. For instance, I did love the idea of the daughter of the first teacher coming back. Unfortunately, the teacher sub-plot in the first film was not in the book, which is sad, as it was one of the best things about the first movie… so there would have to have been some massive re-writing for the original author to include that whole sub-plot. There was also a cool little connection to Shinji’s (from the first movie) uncle, who nobody who hadn’t read the original book would probably pick up on. A relationship between those two could have been fleshed out so much better. I also really liked the paired-collars idea, and that was one of the worst-executed ideas. It had so much potential; imagine one of the really good students and one of the more evil students paired together and being forced to work together; one student had a diabetes issue, so she was having insulin issues… imagine the suspense that could have been added for her partner had they done it right. There are so many things they could have done with that idea, and the only thing they used it for was to get the class size down from 42 to 12 in about 10 minutes.
And that leads in to another big issue. Like the first movie, there was no character depth or character growth. I didn’t care about any of the characters (except those from the first film). I didn’t really even know their names or anything else about them. There was no personal connection to anything happening to any of them. It was just pointless death after pointless death.
And the characters they did spend time on were so horribly acted that you didn’t like them anyway. I’m not even going to point out specific characters that were over-acted… because they all were (with the exception of maybe two… which were the teacher from the first film in one short flashback, and Noriko, who has one short scene at the end). I also didn’t like how Shuya was portrayed in the first film, and that pretty much carries over to this one, as well (he’s still more awkward than anything).
A couple other notes: The cinematography and the music were both really good; the ending was just dumb and silly; and don’t even get me started on all the plot holes (and I’m very rarely one to pick up on plot holes myself). And they could have told us where the hell Noriko was for the entirety of the movie instead of making us wonder the entire time. So yeah, the movie had a lot of good ideas, but it ultimately fell on its face (hard). If it were to be altered and done in book form (though I do think that was done to some degree for a manga sequel), I believe it could be really good. Too bad that for now, it’s really not.
The Zed Word
Feast 2: Sloppy Seconds.
I really loved the first film, Feast, a little-known horror/comedy made during the final season of Project Greenlight. It had a lot of unexpected things and followed none of the horror-film clichés (save for Monster Vision). It was hilarious, suspenseful, and all-around outrageous in the things that occurred. So when I heard they were making it into a trilogy, I got excited. But then I started hearing that this first sequel, finally released, was just plain terrible, if not God-awful. I had to see for myself.
Feast 2 picks up right where the first one left off. Biker Queen (Diane Goldner), twin sister of the first movie’s Harley Mom (also Diane Goldner), starts to seek revenge after finding her sister was dead. She stumbles across Bartender (Clu Gulager), a barely-survivor of the first film who had been left for dead. He tells them that Harley Mom’s death was due to Bozo, one of the other survivors of the first film. So off they go, with Bartender as a hostage, to meet up with other members of the all-female biker gang to find Bozo and seek revenge. Then there’s Honey Pie (Jenny Wade), another survivor who only did so by backstabbing the others of the first film and escaping via one of their only methods of doing so. They all find themselves in a nearby town that had also been attacked by the monsters, and end up meeting up with some of the other survivors, including a sleazy car salesman, his wife, the man his wife is cheating with, two Spanish midget wrestlers with a key-making shop, and their grandmother. They’re stuck out in the open, though they know if they could just get to the jail, which is apparently an impenetrable fortress, they’ll be safe. Unfortunately, it’s been locked from the inside by the town’s meth junkie, who refuses to let anybody else in.
This movie was not as good as the first, I do admit, but it was still pretty entertaining in its ridiculousness. The first 15-20 minutes did have me worried, though, as it started off pretty badly. But the more the movie goes on, the more ridiculous it gets, which means the more fun it becomes. What the Feast films seem to have going for them is their total, utter capacity for transcending the norm. The monsters are men in suits, but they’re men in suits done well. They aren’t afraid of hitting the taboo (going after children/animals) or even showing the unusual (monster sex). There are even always the new levels of disgusting with bodily fluids and such.
The first was much grittier, however, and the characters were much more interesting and real. Replacing waitresses and family with an all-female biker gang and midget wrestlers is a bit extreme. If I could make a comparison, it would be like moving from (the films) Resident Evil (dark/gritty/suspenseful) to Resident Evil: Apocalypse (more action and ridiculous scenarios). Though, again, it was still pretty entertaining as it went on, if you can shut off your brain and just enjoy absurdity.
On the subject of the characters, the returning characters were the most entertaining, even though there were only technically two (Bartender and Honey Pie). There is a dream sequence with a previous character, but that was just weirdly random (and slightly disgusting). The main three survivors of the first film never make an appearance, even though Biker Queen’s original plot had to deal with finding them. I’m not sure if it’s for budgetary reasons that they didn’t return, or if they’re just going to return in the third film, but their presences were missed.
The cinematography, on the other hand, was brilliant, much like the first film (if not more so). There are a lot of great shots, lighting, and camera work in this film. There was some of that in the first one, but it’s a lot more prevalent in this first sequel. And for any that hated the Monster Vision in the first film (I didn’t, but I know there are some out there), it is not in this film at all (at least, I didn’t catch any).
Some final notes… if and when any of you ever decide to watch this one (make sure you’ve seen the original first), please try not to be easily offended by anything, as there is one major movie taboo that is broken in this film which has caused a lot of controversy among fans. And don’t turn off the film until the credits go black or else you’ll miss a very vital part of the ending (which is vague and open as hell as it is, setting it up for the third). I suppose one good way to look at the two films, because they are so different, is that the purpose of the first film was to take horror clichés and throw them out the window; the purpose of the second film is to take horror clichés and embrace them while simultaneously mocking them (in a satirical way). Again, the first was much better, but if you’re up for some brainless entertainment, a bit of suspense, and some really bizarre (and very dark) comedy—and you’ve seen the first one—I say just check it out. One viewing, at the least, won’t hurt.
I Am McLovin!