Broken DVD Four-Pack Giveaway: Courtesy of Film Movement

On November 5th one of the best films of the year to date, Broken, will be released on DVD. As I have frequently said, I never tire throughout the year (and sometimes beyond that year) of championing a great film and this is one. Another thing I’ve frequently mentioned is my fondness for Film Movement (as well as their Film of the Month Club).

In light of the aforementioned facts, the kind folks at Film Movement have made available a copy of Broken for a giveaway run in conjunction with The Movie Rat. So now you have a chance to heed my advice to “watch Broken, it is an absolutely exquisite piece of cinema.”

But, wait, there’s more! Film Movement has also offered three other foreign-produced films (Befitting the current Thankful for World Cinema theme), to join Broken making an awesome prize package and a perfect introduction to their films.

If you win you will also get Clandestine Childhood, Shun Li and the Poet and Aliyah.

This giveaway is open to entrants from the US & Canada Only.

To enter:

1. Follow this link: http://www.filmmovement.com/email-join/facebook/

2. Sign up for the Film Movement newsletter.

That is all. Easy, yes?

Only those signing up between now and 11/8 will be eligible for the giveaway, so get crackin’!

This giveaway has now ended.

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UPDATED: The Director’s Cut of Nightbreed is coming to Blu-ray

The other day I saw tweets from Clive Barker about a website organizing the effort to get a home video release of the director’s cut of Nightbreed. Now, this is a film I had not gotten around to seeing but once I discovered that said cut had been unearthed and restored and has now even screened, seeing what the theatrical release ended up being seems to pale in comparison.

I urge you to sign the petition and follow its social network links. I believe in standing with artists and defending their vision, and clearly Barker is one who has earned the right to show his intention. So, it’s not really just a case of I want to see it and so will you. Also, when DVD came on to the market this was the kind of thing that was supposed to become more commonplace, but has become all to rare. If there is demand, an overwhelming amount of it, it will not be ignored. Make yourself be heard!

UPDATE: Since the news that the cut existed first broke there have been screenings at horror conventions and festivals the world round of the Cabal cut. Due to unfortunate scheduling I was unable to attend a screening very close to me. The good news is that Nightbreed the Cabal cut is now officially coming to Blu-Ray. The story was broken by Rue Morgue. You can read more here.

Blu-ray Review: In The Family

Prologue

I’ve written on a few occasions about films earning multiple appearances on this website, namely at the start of a series of posts on Django Unchained. However, even if the film does engender multiple write-ups that doesn’t mean I will hesitate to champion it whenever and whenever I can.

Such is the case of the self-distributed In the Family, which in good old-fashioned barnstorming fashion went around the country city-by-city for more than a year, if not two. Now that its arrived on both Blu-ray and DVD, the great equalizers of the film marketplace, it deserves a proper mention here.

This is a film that I not only reviewed upon having seen it but also won the BAM Award for Best Original Screenplay and was nominated for two others so it’s a home video title I was quite excited to get to view.

If you have yet to see it I recommend you watch the film via rental means. If you feel as strongly about it as I, and many others do, rest assured that the video release could not come more highly recommended.

Introduction

In the Family (2011, In the Family)

Since I viewed the film, and became a fan, I tracked its progress and further triumphs both on its Facebook and Twitter pages. One day on Facebook I saw a pull-quote of a DVD review I could not get out of my head which compared it to a Criterion release. That’s high praise but that comparison echoed through my mind repeatedly as I got willfully immersed in the myriad special features.

What’s great about a film like In the Family is that it is nuanced enough to earn not only the bonuses that are included on the disc, but any others that may come along should Criterion ever pick it up. As I finished reading the varied essays in a booklet that was included, it struck me that quite a few other topics could’ve been explored – that’s how you know you have a nuanced title.

The Features

In the Family (2011, In the Family)

The special features are many and are for the most part all pretty great. I have to admit to not watching too many video essays but the two by outside parties on this disc really exploit the technique brilliantly: one exploring, and further extrapolating visual motifs of the film, expounding upon vague notions I had that really underscore why the film is as effective as it is; another is a great recounting of a Q & A session Wang had in San Francisco. Having been on both sides of the Q & A equation I must tell you it’s fascinating to have this perspective wherein the discussion points and conversations have been digested. Usually you go, listen to, ask or answer the question and it ends, here it reflects back on the kind of impact the film already was having.

Wang narrates two great featurettes one called A Tour of the Cutting Room Floor and another called Sculpting a Scene. In the former, he, more methodically than most, illustrates deleted scenes and shot and discusses why they went unused in the final edit. However, even more valuable than that is Sculpting a Scene. The scene chosen is one of several long takes in the film so rather than discuss editing he discusses through three takes the evolution of the camerawork, lighting and acting and gives examples of the sound edit by switching between production sound and the final audio mix. Whether you’re a filmmaker or enthusiast it’s really great to get that focused and that dramatic an example of the craft of filmmaking.

Lastly, comes the trailer and a behind the scenes video. The trailer was interesting for me to see because I hadn’t seen it ahead of watching the film and not since. It’s a really well done trailer that employs an approach so many other films would do well to learn from. “Cut it like this,” producers and marketers should say. The Behind the Scenes is not so much a making of as a collection of outtakes, however, incorporating music from the film makes that a bit of an artistic achievement also.

As for the written essays they were equally, if not more, compelling than the video essays; and as I mentioned earlier got me thinking that there were other segments, motifs and themes that could’ve been explored also. However, then this bundle might be approaching a bundle with a book the thickness of a BFI Classics book and a disc in tow.

Conclusion

In the Family (2011, In the Family LLC)

I wanted to write about this film again because it’s deserving of more recognition and audience but also thinking that it might be my ode to its coming home to me after its nomadic journey found me and convinced me to go see it. However, maybe there’s one more piece in me about it. Perhaps it would be about dragons and Ingmar Bergman or the the virtues of carefully fractured chronologies. With In The Family now being available to take home I feel it will be a film written about for many years to come.

DVD Review – Straight A’s

Introduction

I don’t frequently write DVD reviews, but upon seeing this film I was compelled to watch the special bonus features on it as well. Typically, I would stick to a review of the program on the disc, but have included thoughts on the features below.

Film

Straight A's (2013, Courtesy of Millennium Entertainment)

The film has a very basic synopsis and I will not elaborate much at all on that here. It’s likely better that you go in knowing that much or less about this film. Straight A’s really caught me by surprise as a refreshing, character-driven family dramedy, that doesn’t get bogged down in the histrionics that are potential pitfalls of a film with a synopsis such as this one.

I will readily admit that I just may have a soft spot for family dramedies. However, the recent film in the subgenre that comes to mind for me is Fireflies in the Garden, and that film pushes its melodramatic limits, whereas there is a fairly realistic grounding to be found here. Characters’ motivations and reactions make sense, things are played up as much as they need to be and are still fairly effective. While the overtures of external conflict are apparent, there is also a lot inner-turmoil that the film is wise enough to hold the reins on, and allow some disputes to be settled sub-textually rather than textually.

There are two things this film does very well early on that set it up for success: The first is that it establishes an overt structure for the titles that confirm the passage of time and that a new day has begun. I’m not one who is slavish towards a ticking clock mentality, but far too often films employing this sub-division approach lag because we as an audience have no clue what the endgame is, and they’d be better off letting time flow organically. This structure becomes intrinsic to this film and aids the flow of it.

That narrative structure established is confirmed by the voice over of the film’s narrator Charles (Thomas Riley Stewart) and that sets up one of the many wonderful symmetries of this film. Quite a few pieces of dialogue, motifs and themes come back around unexpectedly and close many a tidy, well-wrought circle. This is assisted by the strong, certain manner in which the narrative asserts itself.

In building these characters the film does well to split the job. It always shows something about them when they’re alone, usually visually, and is constantly rounding in interaction, but perhaps the best work the film does is through dialogue. The black sheep returning to the fold is Scott (Ryan Phillippe) who is always direct. There is also the fact that Charles is very intelligent that could lead to a number of pitfalls, but his dialogue isn’t instantly and persistently showy, and neither of the kids are condescended to. It’s just one tool that that the film uses to constantly add new definition to its main characters, but one of the best used.

One good example both of dialogue and of how the film avoids overplaying its hand is one of the lead-up-to events – an oral presentation Charles has before his whole school. In this sequence, I was reminded of how the speech in Crazy, Stupid, Love devolved from its diegetic script to being a very literal thinking out loud. There’s a clear message, but never one that’s bluntly said. It’s also another good case of follow-through in the subjective editing choices that are made.

There is also good use of montages and cross-cutting sequences that are more nested and less overt than you see many times. For as strong as the film is with its use of dialogue, it doesn’t ignore the visual end of things either and has quite a few visual signatures throughout.

Of course, any film described as character-driven needs its actors to deliver in order to work and this film has that as well. Ryan Phillippe seems to be quite connected throughout and fills in those blanks the script can’t; portraying troubled, irresponsible with good intentions that could just read like a jerk. Luke Wilson, like in Meeting Evil, finds a part that really seems to suit his type, his poker-faced, button-lipped character’s moment of decision reads better due the whole of his performance. Paquin’s facade of control is always erected, even as she loses it, and it makes her a presence that can be reasonable seem to be one that would be acquiesced to, even by Scott. There’s also Powers Boothe with a significant secondary role, that’s sensitive and understated. Boothe is an actor who you literally can’t see enough of. Last, but not least, there’s Riley Thomas Stewart who has the unenviable task of playing intelligent, precocious yet still childlike and endearing, and he succeeds with flying colors. Even when the dialogue is clearly designed to show his vast intellect it just sounds like Charles talking as opposed to an actor doing a line reading, which is a hard task with verbose lines.

Straight A‘s is the kind of film that might slip under one’s radar. I know I’m glad I found it, as it’s yet another dark horse for this year that I really connected with.

9/10

Special Features

Straight A's (2013, Millennium Entertainment)

While they are a little stripped-down with quick cuts to black and spotty audio, the three special features on the disc make up for in content what they lack in flash.

There’s a featurette, which is about trailer-length that’s a quick splicing together of interview and final film footage.

There are interviews with director, producers and several stars of the film, which run about 17 minutes and explore the themes of the work rather well without getting overly-bogged down in minutiae, but also lends a personal perspective from each participant with interesting tidbits.

Most interesting to me was the behind the scenes footage. They were usually rather quick shots taken during production of the set-up of shots, gear being put in place or moved, takes being done, or re-done and the like. This runs around six minutes. It’s bereft of commentary so it would likely be more intriguing for a filmmaker, but it is an interesting touch to be added to the package.

Straight A‘s is out on DVD and Blu-Ray today.

Rewind Commentary- A Home Video Trend I Hope to See Continue

The Day the Earth Stood Still (20th Century Fox)

As those who know me, and if such a person exists, cyberstalk me, know I created this blog after writing on another site, which shall remain nameless, for a while. The point is, I have material sitting around waiting to be re-used on occasion I will re-post them here. Some of those articles may have been extemporaneous at the time but are slightly random now, hence the new title and little intro, regardless enjoy! And in this one it’s something I haven’t seen followed through.

Recently The Day the Earth Stood Still, the remake, was released on DVD. I did not see the movie. It was one of those instances where I saw no need for the film to be rehashed. How the work of the fantastic Robert Wise could be modernized or improved upon was something I never understood.

How an intelligent science fiction classic could be turned into something that looked like Independence Day turned my stomach. It follows a pattern in film and society, which I will likely comment further on in upcoming columns, that what exists just isn’t good enough. The permanency of film, which I think is part of its beauty, just doesn’t cut it. People don’t want to see The Day the Earth Stood Still from the 50s…or maybe there is hope. Maybe we’re just not discerning and we’ll see whatever slop the studios throw in front of us.

In releasing its DVD of the remake Fox has included, at no additional charge, a copy of the classic version of The Day the Earth Stood Still. This is a marketing strategy I could deal with, and knowing this is part of the scheme ahead of time I might not be as averse to the rash of remakes.

Now don’t get me wrong I don’t believe there’s altruistic intent in this move. They want to appease disgruntled fans and try to sell DVDs. Why not have it both ways though? Why not always do this? If you’re going to remake, update, re-imagine, reboot (call it what you will) a classic and introduce a new audience to it, raking in a ton of cash regardless, why not show them where the idea came from. After all as a studio, Fox in this case, both films are your product, so why not promote both? As a studio you are not a Johnny Come-Lately looking to hock electronics for the ADD generation you have a veritable arsenal of product ready-made at your disposal so put it out there, enlightening people on film history and commerce can go hand-in-hand just look at Turner’s Forbidden Hollywood deal with Warner. These are films that only really have historical relevance but are now exposed, packaged and available for purchase.

Remakes won’t stop but at least they can start to serve some purpose aside from just generating income from a public unaware or unexposed to the source material. Hopefully, this title won’t be the last to be packaged this way.

Rewind Review- Pufnstuf (1970)

Jack Wild and Billie Hayes in Pufnstuf (Universal)

As those who know me, and if such a person exists, cyberstalk me know I created this blog after writing on another site, which shall remain nameless, for a while. The point is, I have material sitting around waiting to be re-used on occasion I will re-post them here. Some of those reviews may have been extemporaneous at the time but are slightly random now, hence the new title and little intro, regardless enjoy! This review pertains to the DVD release.

The timing of the release of Pufnstuf, the motion picture adaptation made in 1970 of the popular TV series, was no coincidence. Across the top of the cover is blazoned from the producers of Land of the Lost. However, this kind of tie-in advertising on a cover can be misleading.

Just from seeing the trailer and a few episodes of the original Land of the Lost series anyone can tell the two are vastly different. Land of the Lost box sets are likely likewise brandished “Now a Major Motion Picture.” Even though the series and the release are as dissimilar as The Brandy Bunch renditions were it’s not necessarily a bad thing it’s just another case of caveat emptor.

Pufnstuf, as a motion picture looks almost exactly like it did as a show, puppety costumes à la Sesame Street and some times two-dimensional set pieces. That’s what the show was. Having never seen the movie what’s great to see was the occasional cinematic device thrown in to spice things up, usually during songs like fast- and slow-motion, quick cuts (like New Wave speed), matte painting (some better than others), creative use of stock footage, image flips, cuts to orange (of all colors) and even a slightly canted shot or two.

For film fans many of the voices, as you may or may not know are inspired by old movie stars, it’s the cartoon logic of funny for adults and kids but for vastly different reasons, examples being: John Wayne, W.C. Fields, Edward G. Robinson and James Cagney.

For fans of the show it’s an old-fashioned origin story basically replacing the theme song and showing how it all got started and it even answered a few questions or went slightly more in depth like: how Jimmy and Freddy the Flute first met, why a British kid is on a crazy island full of anthropomorphic Americans and adding an outsider element to make the fact that he’s alone away from his family OK, if we ever thought of it. I also appreciate the fact that the parents didn’t appear, they were ghosts. As they should be in a kids story.

The film features a pretty good cameo by Mama Cass, who of course sings but oddly you don’t mind the wait because she’s pretty funny. All the songs are pretty good and original to the film. Jack Wild carries most of them and handles them with his typical ease and flair.

Typically, when dealing with a television show being turned into a movie when I have been a fan of the show. I want to see something akin to the best episode ever, if the film is intended to be a straight remake and not a reboot or spoof. What you get with Pufnstuf is just that, everything at its absolute peak. Billie Hayes is hilarious in what is definitely her best rendition of Witchiepoo. In an episode there would be cheesy jokes that would make you roll your eyes or sigh, a lot of the jokes here are still cheesy but they work. The only thing that comes close to it was the aired only once episode, which is on the DVD of the series, where mushrooms were eaten, no lie. The music and consistency of this puts it over the top.

This DVD is a must for any Krofft fan who enjoys their creations as they were first intended, not how they’re being reintroduced to the world.

10/10

61 Days of Halloween- Garfield’s Halloween Adventure

Most holidays worth their while encompass entire seasons, such as Christmas, for example. However, as you may have noticed there is a corporate push every year for us to think about the next holiday even sooner. While this has many negative side effects I figure I may as well embrace it.

Since Labor Day is really only good for college football and movie marathons cinematically it is as significant as Arbor Day, which means the next big day on the calendar is Halloween and we can start looking toward it starting now.

Daily I will be viewing films in the horror genre between now and then and sharing the wealth. Many, as is usually the case, will not be worth it so for every disappointment so I will try and suggest something worth while as well.

Garfield’s Halloween Adventure

Originally referred to as Garfield in Disguise, this special has sort of gotten lost in the shuffle. While one cannot argue that it holds the same kind of distinction as It’s the Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown it does fit the mold better as a traditional Halloween tale. If you’re like me the appeal of the strip has in large part dwindled over the years but this like many of his specials does stand the test of time.

It too is about the day in its essential form: trick-or-treating, ghost stories and getting a good scare and it hits all these points on the head.

While I am not inherently afraid of clowns I too would be scared out of my wits if Binky the Clown screamed me to life on any given morning.

What I had literally forgotten about is that there are songs in this short and also that aside from that the score is rather effective. So not only do you have the pleasure of listening to the voice of Lorenzo Music but you have toe-tappers as well.

What’s best is that even though the tale is a little primitive it does, in fact, provide scares. The Old Man’s ghost story is fireside storytelling at its best and the animation of said ghosts is rather impressionistic which is nice to see.

Ultimately, it’s a very well-rounded adventure that is worth getting on DVD since it’s not an annual TV staple.

10/10

Review- Alabama Moon

Uriah Shelton, Jimmy Bennett and Gabriel Basso in Alabama Moon (Faulkner-McLean Entertainment)

Alabama Moon is a film whose road to distribution was a long and winding one. In fact, it’s eventual home video release (which is how I ended up seeing it) was delayed because it finally got a limited regional release in the Gulf states, mainly Alabama (naturally). It’s worth noting that this model is not unusual. The straight-to-video release isn’t as profitable as it once was, and for some reason just as maligned even in this Streaming Age, so limited releases will act as a springboard for DVD sales.

Alabama Moon tells the tale of young Moon Blake, a boy who is raised in the woods by an eccentric father who is wary of both modernity and the government. Very early on, and rendered rather dramatically, Moon loses his father and much of the film will deal with how Moon tries to cope on his own, while trying to avoid authorities like a bumbling quasi-humorous cop played by Clint Howard or the clutches of a reformatory.

The standout of the film is the performance of Jimmy Bennett, who plays Moon Blake. He was most recently JJ on No Ordinary Family but is perhaps known for playing young James T. Kirk in the Star Trek reboot. While Bennett has played in much grittier, darker and dramatic vehicles before such as Trucker and The Heart is Deceitful Above All Things this may just be his best performance to date. This role demands a lot of him not just in terms of highly-charged emotional scenes but also some comedic timing is required and he needs to be a grounded normal-seeming character in the film’s goofier moments. As I tweeted immediately after watching it he basically makes it worth watching on his own and is “crazy good.”

There are other performances of note as well. Those deserving first mention are Moon’s friends played by Gabriel Basso and Uriah Shelton respectively. They play very different kinds of characters but are equally good foils because it never seems unnatural that Moon would befriend either because they both seem to reflect disparate aspects of his personality both a fighter and a quiet, solitary type.

The adult casting offers more mixed results. John Goodman’s character thankfully plays a more crucial role later in the film than it seems he will early on and is very well played. Then we come to the last key figure which is the police officer played by Clint Howard. Now merely casting Clint Howard, or that you can cast him in the part, is already an indication of how you intend to play a part. Howard can play a creepy menacing type but more often than not he’s goofy and here he’s like a mean-spirited Barney Fife only less competent.

It’s in that writing and casting decision where the die is cast that the tone of the film will be a balancing act between very serious drama in a coming-of-age vein and lighthearted borderline screwball comedy that must counterbalance one another. It is to this film’s credit that it manages to keep them both in check and make the film both light viewing and emotionally engaging at the same time and also some of that credit once again goes to the cast.

The film manages to deal with quite a few themes in a subtler than expected manner despite the variegated tone. One of the main ones being individuation from parents specifically that one can accept their parents’s faults, love them for who they are and learn from them but must eventually learn to see the the world, and interact with it, in their own way.

It may be easy to read this review and see why this film has fallen through the cracks as it’s not exactly the easiest to pigeonhole, however, I hope that in reading this review you have also found it is worth your time.

I was rather pleasantly surprised by this film and I’m very glad I tracked it down.

8/10

Justin Bieber: Never Say Never Extended Cut Coming this Weekend

Justin Bieber in never Say Never (Paramount Pictures)

As previously reported Paramount is poised to release an extended cut of Justin Bieber: Never Say Never this coming weekend, for one weekend only.

Reports vary between sources about how much content would be added but estimates are between 30-40 pushing the running time over two hours.

The film will include music which is not seen in the current cut, more friend footage and other things which were suggested by fans and already existed but were excised pre-release. What’s perhaps most compelling is that the film will get somewhat reflexive and include footage of fans watching the sneak preview of the film on February 9th, which truly brings the story of the film full circle. Jon Chu, director, in the video embedded below talks about how this film fits the mold being made by the current artist.

Ultimately, it is quite likely that the correct decisions were made for the initial theatrical release as it was quite a successful that told a well-rounded tale and didn’t just shoot concert footage all fancy like but it would be interesting to see what was left out and how an extended cut change things. Again it’s something you can look at a few ways: either crass or a team and crew going the extra step to thank the fans who made all of this possible. With all the suggestions and the technology available (as Chu mentions it’s screening in 90% digitally-capable cinemas) these were easy request to accommodate and documentaries offer more flexibility.

It is also being reported that the film will be released on DVD in August. That has yet to be confirmed by Paramount and clearly details don’t yet exist about it.

Two for Tuesday #2

So for this Two for Tuesday I decided to switch things up because after all variety is the spice of life, or so they say. Rather than continuing the Oscar theme, and sparing my DVR, I decided to finally give a few DVDs I picked up over the summer a chance.

Both of them are horror films. One is called Boogeyman and the other is Shutter. As further proof that there’s not that much at all in a name the former is much better than the latter.

Boogeyman

Barry Watson in Boogeyman (Columbia Pictures)

On the surface you may think there’s nothing much to Boogeyman. It’s a tale we’ve all more or less heard, mostly through oral tradition. Some of us horror aficionados have even read Stephen King’s rather brilliant rendition of the legend.

This film does have some surprises in store, however. Not the least of which is the performance of Barry Watson. Now I was not all that familiar with Watson’s work other than his time on 7th Heaven. I came away from this film quite impressed with him indeed. It’s a quiet role that dominates the film and he handles it easily. He is convincingly scared without ever going over the top, much of his dialogue is in whispers but it never gets annoying and he’s the kind of everyman that can really transport you into a horror film.

It can be easy for a horror film to have a really effective teasing scene but it’s far more rare for that scene to have such a direct correlation to the rest of the film but it gets more surprising. The villain, the literal Boogeyman in this case, is hardly ever seen for 80-90% of the film playing into the doubt of his existence and actually amping up how scary this film can be. I mean literally absent not you don’t see its face I mean most of the time you see nothing which is an amazing feat.

Time and space are played with quite effectively, there is also what in another film would be a major twist moved up and not made the center of attention which is refreshing. While not original there is also a play on missing children in this film, which is always an effective angle for a horror film.

The cinematography both in terms of lighting and framing and how it shoots into the edit is brilliant. Kudos to Bobby Bukowski, a name I think I’d like to get better acquainted with.

With all this goodness mounting still there was a niggling doubt building. The question that kept bugging me was: “Why have I never heard of this movie?” I answered that question and much to my chagrin had my speculation confirmed.

Now some, Stephen King, included will cite the revelation of He Who Walks Behind the Rows as the downfall of Children of the Corn, while I can’t argue that the effects are great I still like them in a cheesy 80s kind of way and love the film. Here not so much. After so much that went right the effects totally drop the ball and actually made me giggle a few times which is tragic because there were genuine scares to be had before.

To think with just a halfway decent practical makeup job on the Boogeyman it could’ve been something special.

Shutter

Joshua Jackson and Megumi Okina in Shutter (20th Century Fox)

For everything that Boogeyman did right and then blew in the ending, Shutter pretty much did all those things wrong right off the bat and then compounded with a stupid ending. The giggle factor for me starts right at the beginning shortly after the inciting incident.

While Boogeyman is a quiet and mostly very intelligent film with commendable performances by the cast Shutter is louder, dumber and poorly acted through a lot of it.

Now I can say I’ve seen enough Asian horror to cast aspersions on an entire continent’s approach to a genre but I sure as hell have had enough of our pale imitations both via remake and rip-off. There always ends up being more unintentional comedy than an actual fear factor.

There is a delicate balance in horror films: too much build up or too much action, especially if its repetitive, is likely to bore an audience. This film falls into the latter category. For the longest time we see “spirit photos,” which is an oft-used trick in supernatural films then there is the girl herself and we just see her incessantly and it takes next to forever for her to actually do anything.

As more details unravel about her identity and motivation things just get progressively dumber and uninteresting instead of getting smarter and more engrossing, again the antithesis of the previous film.

I won’t spoil the ending but it’s the kind that if you liked the film you love it because of how it concludes. If you hated it before you’ll loathe it after its through.