Saturday, August 28, 2021

Film Review: A Quiet Place Part II


Sexuality/Nudity No Objection
Violence Mature
Vulgarity Acceptable
Anti-Catholic Philosophy Acceptable

Let's get this out of the way up front:  A Quiet Place Part II is not as good as the original.  But it is a very worthy continuation of the story.  It's like comparing Jaws 2 to the original Jaws.  By itself, the sequel is an excellent movie.  But the bar is raised os high by the original that it suffers by comparison.

After a flashback scene to the day of the invasion, A Quiet Place Part II picks up moments after the end of the first film.  With their farm on fire, Evelyn Abbott (Emily Blunt) takes her deaf daughter Regan (Millicent Simmonds), terrified son Marcus (Noah Jupe), and newborn baby and they leave to find a new place to shelter.  All the while they must avoid the monsters who hunt by sound.  Along the way, the encounter Emmet (Cillian Murphy), a friend of the family they have not seen since the monsters arrived.  While sheltering with him, Marcus discovers a radio signal being broadcast.  Regan decides to head out on her own to find the radio station and help them broadcast the power her hearing aid feedback gives them in defeating the monsters.

Writer/Director John Krasinski has lost none of his skill at visual storytelling.  The tension he builds in the flashback is palpable.  We know that this idyllic small town life is about to be horribly shattered, its only a matter of when.  And when the chaos hits, it is an explosion of chaos.  In the main story, he is able keep you glued to the edge of your seat, getting you to scream at the characters on the screen.  One of the best thing he does is that he leaves visual remnants of horrible scenes that play out in your imagination.  At one point, Regan gets to an abandoned train stop that is scattered with high-heeled shoes.  You can just imagine the terror of those who were there who abandoned these shoes to run in horror.

One of the things that elevated the last film beyond a simple monster movie is that it was so thematically rich that it touched a primal chord about the nature of parenthood and family.  This film continues that exploration, but its main focus is less on the parents and more on the children.  After the events of the previous film, Regan and Marcus have lost any innocence they had before: their childhood is over.  Rather than look to their parents to watch out for them, there is a shift in the dynamic.  They have to grow up and take adult responsibility.  That isn't to say that there is a complete role reversal.  Evelyn is as protective and heroic as before.  Emmett reluctantly realizes that Regan will not get far without some adult help.

Thematically, this is a wonderful continuation of the first film.  Parents spend so much time trying to keep their children safe.  But for the children to grow up, they have to willingly face the dangers of the world.  The job of the parent doesn't end, but it does change.  You don't so much shield them from the danger, but you face the danger with them.  

The performances are as good as the first.  For child actors, Simmonds and Jupe do a great job.  I do feel a bit of pity for Jupe.  His character is mostly in a state of abject terror that his face is burned in my mind in permanent fright.  Also, his character feels weak in a way that is unfair to him.  In one scene, he gets his leg caught in an animal trap.  He cries out in pain as his mother tries to shush him.  I know that I would be screaming my head off even worse, but I just kept thinking, "Shut up you wimp!"  As I said, unfair.  Murphy captures the look and feel of a working class small town guy so perfectly that I never once questioned it.  And Blunt continues to give a great performance.  She asks too much of her children and the strain of it lines every part of her face.

The movie's biggest flaw is that it doesn't feel like it is a complete movie.  It feels like an extra-long episode of The Walking Dead.  It moves along well and wouldn't necessarily benefit from a longer run-time.  But the movie ends with things still feeling a bit fragmented.  The first one finished in an open-ended way but it could also work as a standalone.  The sequel leaves too much unreselved to have the same kind of satisfaction.

A Quiet Place Part II is a fine continuation of the story and is well worth the watch if you enjoyed the first.  Just don't expect it to be as good or better.

No comments:

Post a Comment