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Old 10-04-2004, 02:07 PM
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Default Cruel Intentions 2




Reviewer: Jeremy
Review Date: October 14, 2001

Released by: Columbia Tri-Star
Release date: 3/13/2001
MSRP: $24.95
Region 1, NTSC
Widescreen 1.78:1 | 16x9: Yes | P&S: Yes (Side B)



The Story

inline Image Sebastian Valmont (Robin Dunne) is something of a problem student. Although he's very bright, he also has problems with authority and is constantly getting in trouble for pranks like feeding the school hamster an overdose of Viagra. Fortunately for Sebastian, he's about to leave for a new school - his mother is a drug addict who has finally consented to go into rehab, and he's going to be going to live with his father in New York City. As Sebastian says goodbye to his principal, Mr. Freeman (Ian D. Clark), he inquires what's going to happen with his file, which is quite unflattering, to say the least. Freeman replies that he intends to forward it to his new school in New York, and that if Sebastian really wants to make a change for the better, he should be able to live down all the unsavory deeds recorded in it. As the young man leaves his office, Freeman gets a frantic call from his wife, screaming that somehow a naked picture of her has ended up in the yearbook. Apparently, Sebastian just couldn't resist pulling one final prank.

inline Image Upon arriving in New York, Sebastian is shocked to find out that is new home is going to be a luxurious mansion in the heart of the city. Apparently his philandering father (David McIlwraith), now on his fourth marriage, has finally hit it big. Sebastian is introduced to his new wife Tiffany (Mimi Rogers) and her teenage daughter Kathryn (Amy Adams). On the surface, Kathryn appears to be the model child - she is president of the student body and participates in extracurricular activities to the point of obsession. But in reality, Kathryn is nothing more than a cold, manipulative sociopath who delights in tormenting and humiliating those around her. After Sebastian puts her in her place by playing the piano with more skill and correcting her vocabulary during a conversation at the dinner table, she gives him a curt warning to stay out of her business and not get in her way.

inline Image Kathryn goes to the exclusive Manchester Prepatory Academy, where Sebastian begins attending the next day. Manchester is a snobby private school full of obnoxious rich kids who look down on outsiders, but fortunately for Sebastian, he is able to switch his old file with a more flattering forgery before anyone can see it and reveal the truth of his past. While waiting to see the school's headmaster before he goes to classes, Sebastian meets his beautiful daughter Danielle (Sarah Thompson) and the two are immediately attracted to each other.

inline Image Later that day, the entire school attends an assembly meeting hosted by Kathryn. As she starts to deliver a speech, a ditsy, annoying freshman named Cherie Crayman (Keri Lynn Pratt) begins to hiccup, causing her to choke on a piece of bubblegum. Danielle saves the day by performing the Heimlich maneuver on the girl, instantly raising the ire of Kathryn, who doesn't appreciate that the girl's heroics took away from her spotlight. As it turns out, Kathryn is the head of a secret social club called the Manchester Tribunal, made up of the richest and the prettiest kids, whose goal is clean up the school of unpopulars. These include geeks, nerds and people who otherwise don't fit in or do things like shop at The Gap (!). The group identifies Cherie, who has a 1.3 grade average and is a virgin without any romantic experience whatsoever, as a potential target for humiliation, and Kathryn takes the assignment personally, deciding to turn her into the school slut. She starts by introducing her to the joys of alcohol and kissing.

inline Image Meanwhile, Kathryn also has another target in mind: Sebastian. As he and Danielle start to get intimate, Kathryn's hostility towards him grows, and she starts thinking of ways to mess up the new couple. She tries to convince him to break up with Danielle, and even sends a pair of gorgeous twin girls into the shower with him, to tempt him and show him what he'd be missing with Danielle, who's the only virgin in her class. It doesn't succeed, but when she manages to get a hold of Sebastian's old school file, she realizes that she finally has the ammunition she needs against her step-brother…

Don't be fooled by the title of Cruel Intentions 2 - despite being billed as a sequel to the first film, it's actually a prequel, giving background to many of the events that occurred in the original. The production was originally conceived as a pilot for a TV series, although the deal ended up falling through and the idea was shelved. In the end, the pilot, which was originally called Manchester Prep, was given this new title, re-edited and souped up with some more adult content, and sent directly to home video in it's current form. Not surprisingly, the production quality of the film isn't nearly as slick or as lavish as a normal theatrical release.

It's also not surprising that Cruel Intentions 2 isn't nearly as good as the original, despite the fact that they share the same writer and director, Roger Kumble. Although the first film certainly wasn't a classic, it's clever writing, more explicit sexual content and unusual literary source (Choderlos De Laclos' 1782 novel Dangerous Liaisons) set it noticeably apart from the recent crop of teen movies. One of the original's best aspects, however, was it's cast, and this time it's talented young performers have been replaced by far inferior substitutes. In the role of Sebastian, which was originally played by Ryan Phillippe, Robin Dunne is colorless and makes almost no impression whatsoever. Amy Adams fares a little better as Kathryn - she bears a physical resemblance to her predecessor, Sarah Michelle Gellar, and is a little bit more lively to watch, but overall she just can't match up. Sarah Thompson, who plays a character similar to the one played by Reese Witherspoon in the original, is a sweet and pretty face, but not much else.

One area where the film is comparable to the original though is in it's assortment of outrageous, jaw-dropping scenes, which, despite being kind of cheesy and stupid, are still funny and could help make the movie something of a guilty pleasure. There are many parts - like the scene with Sebastian and the twin girls in the shower, the yearbook scene (a variation of which appeared in the first film, but it's still funny the second time around), and an unbelievable scene where Kathryn shows Cherie the joys of humping while giving her a horseback riding lesson - that are surprisingly enjoyable. They don't change the fact that Cruel Intentions 2 is a bad movie, but they do make it a little more bearable than it would have been otherwise.

Image Quality

inline Image Columbia TriStar presents Cruel Intentions 2 in it's original widescreen ratio of 1.78:1, and is enhanced for 16x9 TVs. A Pan & Scan version is available on Side B of the disc. Overall image quality was quite good, with an excellent color palette and level of detail, but there were several things that caught my eye. There were a few more specks and scratches on the print than I had expected. This is not to say there was major print damage, because there wasn't, but it was a bit surprising considering that this movie is virtually brand new. Grain was barely noticeable, except for the shower scene, where it was moderate. There were also several shots in the early portion of the film which looked quite unusual - they had a very jagged and shimmery effect to them, almost as if edge enhancement had been applied to the twentieth degree. It only happens twice (the opening shot of Sebastian's school, and a shot of Kathryn's limousine moving through the city), but they are rather jarring.

Sound

There are two sound options are available, a Dolby Digital 5.1 track and a Dolby 2.0 Surround track. Depending on your equipment setup, either one will do just fine. This movie is almost entirely dialogue driven and there isn't a lot of opportunity for surround use. The range was good, and no distortion could be heard. Optional English, French, Spanish, Portuguese, Chinese, Korean and Thai subtitles, as well as English captions, are available.

Supplemental Material

inline Image The only extras are talent files for the four principal cast members and trailers for this film, the original Cruel Intentions, as well as Whipped, Girl, Center Stage, Loser and Groove.

Final Thoughts

Cruel Intentions 2 is a bad movie. It would've been a bad TV pilot, and would have probably have made an even worse TV series. It's far inferior to the first Cruel Intentions, although it's not completely devoid of entertainment value, either. It's the kind of movie that I wouldn't mind watching on cable or renting on video, but I'd be reluctant to actually shell out any money to own it. The disc is of pretty good quality overall, if not quite up to the standards of the average big-budget DVD release and should satisfy most viewers.

NOTE: Despite the packaging on this release saying that the disc is Region 1 only, a check with my multi-region player and DVD-ROM software indicates that it is compatible with Region 3 and 4 machines as well.

Rating

Movie – C-
Image Quality – B+
Sound – B+
Supplements – C+

Technical Info.
  • Running Time - 1 hour 27 minutes
  • Color
  • Rated R
  • 1 Disc
  • 28 Chapter Stops
  • English Dolby Digital 5.1
  • English Dolby Surround 2.0
  • English, French, Spanish, Portuguese, Chinese, Korean and Thai subtitles
  • English captions
Supplements
  • Talent files
  • Trailers
Other Pictures

 

 

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