Sunday, September 26, 2021

A Quiet Place Part II

Some spoilers, for this and A Quiet Place.

If you call it a "Part 2" it's easier to make people swallow that it's not just another unnecessary sequel. Heck, even I got drawn in, and I despise the idea of sequels as a rule. What got me interested though, was adding Cillian Murphy to the cast to fill the hole John Krasinski's character leaves. Krasinski is still directing though, and this time he's also writing the whole thing. For the first movie he bought and tweaked an original script, and now he's trying his hand at expanding the story alone.

It's debatable whether the story wants expanding in the first place, let alone if the continuation settled on is any good.

We pick up exactly where we left off (after a flashback prologue). Emily Blunt and children leave their farmhouse to find one of their neighbors whose fire they would see from their water tower. This is Emmett (Cillian Murphy), but he's not as interested in playing father figure and man-of-the-house as the Abbott family wishes. He's already lost his family and is now a Joel from The Last of Us, lone wolf type character. However, Regan (Millicent Simmonds) has her hearing aid device that incapacitates the aliens and when she finds a radio station that is still broadcasting, she's determined to use it to help other survivors fight back. When she leaves alone, Emmett finds himself going after her, and then along with her, despite his protests.

The story splits then into two plotlines. The one with Regan and Emmett is interesting; straightforward in its goal, with ample opportunities for exploration. The one with Evelyn (Emily Blunt), Marcus (Noah Jupe) and the baby, however, is small potatoes, with no goal at all other than to survive when the aliens inevitably find them (after a year and a half they're still terrible at living quietly.) It tries to give Marcus an opportunity to become a man, but must make him even more of a frightened useless child first to make the change clear. It smacks of fishing for story filler rather than letting the story push along at a natural pace. Because both plotlines were focused on equally despite unequal value, neither was developed fully.

Abandoning Emily Blunt's plotline altogether would've been a crazy, bold, and I think rewarding, move.

The Emmett-Regan plotline could have been a movie all in itself, but it had corners cut to make room for the pointless other plotline. Everything happens too fast for them, and comes too easily. The two have a lot of potential together, and I liked their chemistry, but they slip too quickly into a father-daughter dynamic, especially after Regan's rough relationship with Lee, turned to deep loyalty. She initially rejects even the idea of Emmett becoming even a temporary protector. Then warms to him after one incident. They also have a language barrier, in that he cannot sign. This is got over easily and is never an issue in high-stakes situations. Then an evil tribe of cannibals is set up as a non-alien threat, but only amounts to one scene once they show up. 

It's rush, rush, rush, and then it's over and I can list on one hand the important things that were accomplished. I don't even need all five fingers! If it needed to end at that point to allow Part III all the plot it needs to wrap things up, then why not let this story sit back more and develop relationships? Why not explore the themes of family further, instead of leaving themes out altogether? Did Krasinski not realize those were the things that made the first one good? Or is he simply incapable of creating on that level? He is a good director, but he needs a good script with clear purpose, else his movies lack direction, and those satisfying moments of resolution that made A Quiet Place stand out.

"More of the same," but only superficially, isn't really more of the same, is it?

I feel like A Quiet Place Part II's only purpose was to set up the pieces for A Quiet Place Part III, so I guess I'll hang on and see how the payoff goes. Despite the definite downgrade in writing, this movie maintains its winning premise, with the same intense alien thriller feel to it, and tentatively expands the lore on its featured creatures. The mortal flaw is simply that it's lazier; messy next to the lovingly crafted original. Even with nothing to do Emily Blunt is good. Millicent Simmonds steps up her game to great results, and Cillian Murphy is a vital addition that makes the whole endeavor better than it has a right to be. If nothing else, I'll watch Part III to see more of him. 

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