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Old 10-06-2004, 11:19 PM
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Default Urban Legends: Final Cut




Reviewer: Jeremy
Review Date: February 25, 2001

Released by: Columbia Tri-Star
Release date: February 6, 2001
MSRP: $24.95
Region 1, NTSC
Widescreen 2.35:1 | 16x9: Yes | P&S: Yes (Side B)




The Story

inline Image Prestigious Alpine University is one of the country's top film schools, but even more prestigious is the university's annual Hitchcock Award, which is given to one member of the graduating class each year for their thesis film project. The award almost guarantees the recipient a chance to direct in Hollywood, so naturally, everyone desperately wants to win it. Travis Stark (Matthew Davis), widely celebrated as the school's top talent, has already finished shooting his film, but his friend Amy Mayfield (Jennifer Morrison) doesn't even have a clue what genre to make her film in. Fortunately, she's given an idea by the campus' chief of security, Reese Wilson (Loretta Devine) - why not make a film about a serial killer who murders people based on urban legends? Reese tells her the story of how New England's Pendleton University was once terrorized by such a killer and how the incident was covered up by the authorities, a story that Amy recognizes as an urban legend itself. Of course, since Reese was one of the few surviving characters in the original Urban Legend, we all know differently.

inline Image Amy is overjoyed to have an idea for her film and is quickly able to write the script and get ready for filming, but her enthusiasm is dampened when Travis takes his own life after receiving a C- on his film project. She is even more unnerved when, by chance, she meets Trevor (also Matthew Davis), who claims to be Travis' twin brother. The mysterious man doesn't believe that his brother would ever have killed himself, and he thinks that Travis was really murdered by someone. Amy is rather suspicious of him, but agrees not to tell anyone about him while he tries to figure out what happened to his brother.

inline Image The first day of shooting on Amy's movie doesn't go too well, with Sandra (Jessica Cauffiel), one of their actresses, causing a few problems with her god-awful acting skills. Finally they're able to get some footage in the can, but while screening it the next day, Amy and the crew get a big surprise - a reel of footage has been tacked on at the end, showing Sandra being brutally murdered by someone wielding a razor blade. Most of the crew simply assume that it's a joke that Sandra cooked up with a couple of special effects guys, and that the reason she seems to have disappeared is because she left for a gig on "ER" that she had been talking about. Amy suspects differently, but she is unable to examine the mysterious footage any further because it disappears from the projection booth.

inline Image During the next day of shooting, something even more disturbing happens - everyone is packing up to go home, and Amy is recording one last sound effect, when she thinks that she hears somebody screaming over her super-sensitive microphone. She borrows a couple security tapes from Reese and watches them, and is horrified to see her cameraman Simon (Marco Hofschneider) being beaten to death by a masked assailant. But before she can show the tapes to anybody, she is attacked herself by the killer, who chases her through the woods near the campus. She finally escapes, but she loses both tapes in the process, and Reese is forced to tell her that the police would never believe her story about Simon unless she has some proof to show them.

inline Image The girl meets with Trevor and tells him she thinks the murder of Simon and the apparent murder of Sandra may have had something to do with all the pressure surrounding the Hitchcock Award. It's a big deal, but would anybody think it's worth killing over? Trevor tells her to proceed with the shoot that night, this time at a local amusement park, and he'll be there to watch if the killer comes back again. Amy and the crew arrive at the park that night and prepare for filming, but when Graham Manning (Joey Lawrence), a snotty and suspicious-acting fellow student shows up, Trevor abandons the set to follow him and make sure that he isn't up to anything. Unfortunately, while he's gone the killer shows up again, killing Dirk (Michael Bacall) and Stan (Anthony Anderson), Amy's two special effects men, and making their deaths look like accidental electrocution. Only Amy saw the killer, and the police write the incident off as an accident. Amy and Trevor realize that if the authorities won't believe that there's a killer on the loose, they're going to have to stop him themselves!

Despite it's status as a sequel, Urban Legends: Final Cut doesn't have a whole lot to do with the original Urban Legend. Aside from the presence of Reese, there's really no connection to the earlier film, and this time around there's only one murder that is actually based on an urban legend, during a sequence where a girl is drugged and wakes up in a bathtub full of ice and realizes that the killer has removed one of her kidneys. The rest of the killings are standard stalk 'n' slash fare, and as far as the story is concerned, the whole idea of the students filming a movie based on the events in the earlier film is insignificant. Amy and her crew could just as easily have been shooting a porn flick for all it really matters to the plot. The original film wasn't too great, but the "urban legends killer" angle was at least an interesting idea that, if nothing else, helped keep the story moving.

Regrettably, the film is also weighed down by many gaps in logic, bizarre plot elements and unexplained events. During the sequence at the amusement park, it's never explained just how exactly the crew got into the place (it's explained on the disc's commentary track, but not in the movie itself). They just show up and walk right in. Did somebody give them access to the park, or did they break in, or what? When the police up to investigate the deaths of the crew members, they don't seem the least bit concerned with how the kids got in there, either. It also never occurs to anyone except Amy to be the least bit concerned about whether the film of Sandra was real or not, and nobody even seems to notice Simon the cameraman's disappearance. As bad as some of these gaps may be though, having Travis' identical twin brother show up is the most damaging to the film's credibility. It's just not a logical occurrence, even by horror movie standards, and seems like it was put in more to add another red herring to the plot than out of any real dramatic need.

If you're looking for a good slasher movie, Urban Legends: Final Cut is definitely not the way to go. It's not scary and it's not enjoyable, and it isn't even up to the mediocre standards set by the original Urban Legend.

Image Quality

inline Image Urban Legends: Final Cut is presented in a excellent-looking 2.35:1 transfer that is enhanced for 16x9 sets (a pan & scan version is also included, but I doubt that most fans will be particularly eager to watch it). It's an excellent transfer with bold colors and a superb level of detail. The only real fault that I noticed was that there were a few parts of the film that seemed grainer than would normally expect, but I can't complain too much because overall the presentation look superb.

Sound

Both a Dolby 2.0 Stereo and Dolby Digital 5.1 tracks are included. Both sound great, pumping the music and sound effects full-blast, while the dialogue always sounds crisp and east to discern. A French 2.0 Surround track is also included, as well as optional English or French subtitles.

Supplemental Material

inline Image First off, we're treated to a commentary track with director John Ottman. He very enthusiastically talks about the film, elaborating on the shoot and various aspects of how the film was put together. He's a very good talker, but he's also a bit apologetic of his work at times, justifying some of the movie's gaps in logic by saying things like "We didn't think anyone would really think very much about it" (oops).

The disc's other supplements include a brief featurette (which seems more like an extended trailer for the film than anything else), and a gag reel that's actually pretty damn funny. There are also seven deleted scenes included with optional commentary by Ottman. Some of the scenes were obviously scrapped with good reason, but a few of them would probably been better left in the final cut. Finally, there are some brief talent files, a DVD-ROM link to the film's official website, and trailers for this movie and the original Urban Legend, as well as I Know What You Did Last Summer and I Still Know What You Did Last Summer.

Final Thoughts

Urban Legends: Final Cut is a film that definitely warrants a rental before you go ahead and buy it, since I doubt that there are a lot of people are going to want to watch it multiple times. The DVD itself is a good special edition treatment, so if you do end up happening to like the movie, it's a disc you'll definitely want to pick up for your collection.

Rating

Movie - D
Image Quality - A
Sound - A
Supplements - B+

Technical Info.
  • Running Time - 1 hour 38 minutes
  • Color
  • Rated R
  • 1 Disc
  • 28 Chapter Stops
  • English 2.0 Surround
  • French 2.0 Surround
  • English Dolby Digital 5.1
  • English and French subtitles
Supplements
  • Commentary by director John Ottman
  • "Making-of" featurette
  • Gag reel
  • Seven deleted scenes
  • Talent files
  • DVD-ROM link
  • Trailers

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