Here’s the thing about 4DX.
It’s a great cinema going experience if the film in question is a sick ‘em-sock ‘em rollercoaster bash of a ride. And by that I mean, it has to be filled with peaks and valleys on a fairly regular basis.
Ie: The James Wan philosophy of “fill your boots with less scares and more tension” doesn’t really translate into 4DX currency for a movie where the tension is LITERALLY being quiet…
I mean, you’d think being in a seat that moves, blows air near your ears, thumps you in the back and wees water on you only every now and then would make each 4DX moment that much more effective – “use your bouncer sparingly” as they say in cricket. But no. All you do is stew and count the money you’ve paid to sit in a chair that – for the most part – behaves like a chair.
So there’s that piece of worldly advice we have to impart on you – don’t see it in 4DX. But should you see it at all?
Well fans of this website may recall the evening Saul Muerte and I first saw A Quiet Place back during a time before The Great Pandemic – where people could and would freely mingle about in public spaces with no face masks and no pants (I know, it sounds like science fiction…) – and we both instantly jumped online afterwards and pronounced AQP The Greatest Horror film of 2018. And we were right.
So that means/meant writer/director John Krasinski had big shoes to fill 2nd time round, made more and less difficult by the fact they were his shoes.
But what kind of elephants are we talking here? The biggest one – immediately – is that as a film, AQP is quite self contained and not really all that franchisable.
A fact supported by Krasinski who stated, when approached by The Powers That Be, that neither he, nor the other 2 co-creators of the film (Bryan Woods and Scott Beck) were really interested in continuing with another installment.
Yet (obviously) this stance soon flexed and now we have a sequel where it must be said, one didn’t naturally sit before.
Why? You may ask? Well for the simple reason there were no real dangling threads or cliffhanger moments at the end of the first film. The monsters did this. The family did that. Problems were put forth and tension and scares were aplenty as said problems were solved. There was even a noble self-sacrifice thrown into the mixl. Cue end credits.
So if we have to enter sequel territory, we must unearth (yet again) our Surgeons of Horror list of what-a-good-sequel-needs-to-be-called-a-good-sequel folder. They are…
- Identify the ideas, themes & executional elements that make the first film great. Or at least good. Or at least worthy of being sequelised.
- Pay homage and do not violate/ignore said ideas and themes and elements.
- Introduce new/expanded themes, ideas and elements that will NATURALLY ALIGN to your first ideas, themes & elements. (Ie: Don’t use your second movie to discredit & contradict your first).
- To underline point 3 – DO NOT rehash the first film and just give people “more of the same”.
- DO NOT-NOT rehash the first film by giving more of the same…. BUT “BIGGER”.
- Be a good enough stand-alone film by itself.
There. Six simple rules, set in cinematic stone. Follow them and you’ll have a sure fire critical and commercial hit on your hands that will age well over the decades.
So much easier said than done. Balance – as with everything in life – is key and oh-so hard to achieve.
So – where does AQP2 sit with the above 6?
Well in short it nails a lot of the above. But falls short on one. But which one?
Well – you’re gonna have to see that for yourself. But don’t splurge on 4DX.
In terms of meat and potatoes – what you see in the trailer is essentially an accurate structural portrayal of the movie (which might give a hint as to which point it failed on).
It starts with a prequel opening set up (a “Day 1” for fans paying attention during the first film) where we find the Abbott family (their surname is Abbott! Who knew!? Again… problems that crop up when your cast has to be quiet…) enjoying everyday life in everyday country town America before the killer aliens arrive.
Then we flash forward to exactly where the last film left off and Emily Blunt’s character of Evelyn (again – who knew!? Probably super fans of the first movie. You know the drill, comments below etc.) takes her 2 children (Regan and Marcus) and newly formed bubba Abbott to look for other survivors because they have a weapon to fight the aliens now (a homemade Cochlear Implant on steroids) and staying at their flooded/burnt down farm is not an option any more.
There they meet up with Cillian Murphy’s character (Emmett) as seen from the trailer and from there – well – it becomes a story of survival, scares, triumph, man’s inhumanity to man (standard for all post apocalyptic films, which is a cliche to be sure, but seeing as we are all currently living through a global horror movie – and will be for some time yet – sadly, not that unbelievable) and personal growth.
Krasinski himself has gone on record and has (more or less) stated he wanted to focus on the heart of the film, and not so much the head. So for those of you who were invested in the character of Regan from the first movie will be glad to hear her avatar Millicent Simmonds gets to stretch her acting chops nicely this time round.
But as for the aforementioned head stuff – yes there are still hold-your-breath moments, special FX’s and peril. If there is one thing the first film did exceptionally well and does well here (with multiple characters simultaneously no less) is place people in tension filled situations where cold calculating calm is required to survive. But are they in the same league as the first film?
Well. 5 out of 6 ain’t bad. In fact it’s good. It’s very very good. Such a shame the first film was so great. What a fantastic curse, as they say.
– Antony Yee
PS: Be sure to check out our future article where we elaborate on the Six Points to make a great sequel.