You’ll need more than Nurofen: Scanners 2- The New Order
When this series was suggested to me after the completely misguided foray into rural America that was Children of the Corn, I do have to say that I jumped at it. I’ve already reviewed the outstanding original here, and gave it a deserved high rating, and I quite liked part 3 when I first saw it. Therefore, I reasoned that being as 4 and 5 are “SCANNER COP” which is an awesome idea for schlock, the only one that could possibly suck balls would be number 2, and that’s pretty easy to get over.
Well, call me Nostradamus, because Scanners 2: The New Order, does unsurprisingly suck balls. I should have known this was coming. It was pretty obvious after all. To begin with, one of the golden rules of sequels in general, and horror sequels in particular, is don’t wait too long between films. Seriously, I can point out many sequels where the delay between predecessor and sequel is lengthy and I can’t think of many that are any good. Die Hard 4. whateverthefuckitcallsitself? Wank. Indiana Jones and the Saga Holiday? Wank. Terminator 3? Wank. Godfather 3? Wank.
Anyway, you get the drift.
Scanners 2 was made 10 years after Scanners 1 was released. It was, on the plus side, made back to back with the infinitely more entertaining Scanner Force, and as is to be expected was made on a shoestring. Cronenberg had nothing to do with it, so directing reins passed on to Canadian director Christian Duguay. It’s also, in one of the film’s better ideas, set in the near future a good 20 years (minimum) after the events of Scanners. This time around, Vale’s son David(we know he’s nice because he uses his powers to save a puppy. Everyone say “aaaaah”) is discovered by Dr. Morse (as in code, geddit- pathetic) who recruits him to help evil detective Forrester establish a new order. Eventually it all goes tits up and our less than intrepid hero unites with his twin sister to kick evil Scanner ass and save the day.
First things first, the acting to this is for the most part astonishingly mediocre. David Hewlett as David is almost as much of a charisma free zone as Lack was in the first film. He’s just an amazingly boring presence on screen. Lack was bland, but it was fine because Michael Fucking Ironside was superb. This time out, however, the main villain is played by Yvan Ponton and he’s also pretty bland. Luckily he’s got an evil Scanner henchman called Drak who’s portrayed with no little relish by Raoul Trujillo but not one of them remotely touches Ironside. All in all, the acting (Trujillo excepted) is pretty lame.
I’m not going to bother talking about the writing in this, because it’s terminally mediocre. They clearly had a good handle on the original (the expansion of the drug addiction programme for Scanners works really well) and a good understanding of Cronenberg’s themes. However, there is not one memorable line of dialogue in the film, and the addition of David’s sister for the last act is an exercise in pointlessness.
Really, though, this is a boring film. There are some scenes that stand out, and I’ll come to them in a second, but it’s just no fun to watch. There’s no sense of urgency to proceedings, and no real threat. As I’ve already suggested, the writers clearly “get” Cronenberg, and this film borrows the entire revealing the serial killer plot from The Dead Zone. This is pretty unforgivable as it induces a layer of sympathy to Forrester- would his new order be such a bad thing? Furthermore, Hewlett doesn’t have the chops at all to carry this film, and the big Scan battles in it are exercises in tedium. Honestly, they were quite good fun in the first film because of Ironside, but really, watching two grown men pull faces at each other from a distance of 10 feet should really be in the dictionary under “underwhelming”. It’s mind-numbing stuff.
There are two exceptions to this, the first is the hugely enjoyable opening scene where Drak goes apeshit in a video arcade. This is great fun, watching the gun on an old video game spin around and kill at will is a good laugh, and Trujillo really pulls all the every single one of the maniac acting tricks. The second scene is where David comes to realise he has powers in an abortive robbery. This is again an exciting scene and you can really see Duguay’s background as a steadycam operator- it’s well filmed, clear and fun.
As is to be expected of a limited budget sequel made in 1991, the effects are all practical and I have to say really quite good. I’m not sure, but I wouldn’t be surprised to discover that they recreated the exploding melon trick from the first film, and watching them again made me wonder is CGI really an improvement on an actor wiping actual gore off his face? I think not.
Overall this is a boring film and I don’t recommend it. I actually, completely sober, fell asleep in it. The aforementioned 2 bright sparks in the film both take place really early on, and after that the feeling of “mehness” to what you’re watching is both inescapable and depressing. The last third in particular which is effectively something you’ve seen done a million times but with a telepathic twist is positively somnambulent and the ending itself is totally bland, derivative and uninteresting. I rate this with one and a half DO THE CUNT IRONSIDE’S out of four- and think I’m being generous with this.
Next up is the vastly superior Scanner Force. Which has boob to keep me interested.
PS- That says: Why Ephemerol is even worse than smoking during pregnancy. That’s right, I’ve got no sense of decorum. Ciao.