My wife loved the first movie. I was entertained by it, but felt it was too flawed to be considered a great film. We were both excited to see this, because it meant returning to a darkened theatre, the best place to watch scary movies.
The opening scene was the best part, and it’s the reason we get to see Krasinski (who died in the first movie; sorry, spoiler alert if you hadn’t seen it).
It felt like Krasinski (also the writer and director) was channelling his inner M. Night, as we see this small town where you can go in and pick up groceries and not pay, merely telling the old cashier you’ll get him later. You can walk over to the Little League field where everyone knows your name, and your deaf daughter can teach a guy in the stands a few words in sign language that relate to a play at the plate (which was cleverly worked in later in the story).
It’s a shame that Krasinski couldn’t give us more clever moments, or interesting character development. Instead, we just got a monster movie. Creatures attacking non-stop, a few jump scares, and worst of all -- characters making decisions that never make sense. As I told Ted and LaDona when we talked about this show on the air last week, it’s the same frustration you had in the ‘70s watching a horror movie where a woman goes down into the dark basement after she hears a loud noise, after putting on her high heels.
For some reason, the Abbott family feels they need to travel to another area. It seems with these creatures that can hear the tiniest sounds, you’d just hunker down where you’re at. Especially if you have a new baby, a deaf daughter (Millicent Simmonds), and a son (Noah Jupe) who is scared of every little thing he sees.
They make it to an industrial location where Emmett (Cillian Murphy), the guy from the baseball game, has holed up. He wants them to leave, but he obviously ends up doing the right thing and helps them. That help means tracking Regan (Simmonds) down, who wants to track down a radio station, and treks out on her own to do it. I can feel her pain. I once tried to track down a radio station in the ‘70s that promised me Grand Funk Railroad tickets. But I digress.
Speaking of railroads, there is an interesting set piece where she explores a train that had been attacked by the creatures.
The radio station keeps playing Bobby Darin’s “Under the Sea.” And as Bono said to introduce the song Helter Skelter, “Here’s a song Charles Manson stole from the Beatles. Tonight we’re stealing it back.”
I was hoping this would be a great movie so that, when we hear “Under the Sea”, and we’d “steal it back” from Kevin Spacey, who played Darin in the bio-pic.
The daughter is correct about the hidden message behind the song, but it’s what Regan plans to do when she arrives at the station that’s weird (it’s not to flip the album over and play the much better ballad -- Dream Lover). It’s to play the sound she knows disables the aliens. The plan doesn’t make sense as...I’m guessing the people that are alive aren’t just blasting this radio station, as that would attract the creatures. But whatever.
There are some scary moments, and some interesting tracking shots, but...I wanted more than just monsters attacking. Perhaps if I were 12, this would be my Citizen Kane. I expect more from movies now, though.
Krasinski also does some interesting things with sound, to put us in Regan’s shoes. Although I thought the things done with sound were done better, in a much better movie from last year -- Sound of Metal.
With Krasinski’s character having been killed off in the first film, the story centers around the women doing what the big boys, and Sigourney Weaver, have always done -- marching around with shotguns and taking out aliens -- check out Blunt in the amazing sci-fi action film Edge ofTomorrow (Tom Cruise).
Djimon Hounsou shows up, and his story arc is rather predictable. Let’s just say, if this were a Star Trek episode, he’d be wearing a red shirt.
This made lots of money at the box office and after 45 days in theatres, it’ll be streaming. This is a good sign for all the movie theatres opening back up.
1 ½ stars out of 5.
Photo Credit: Paramount Pictures