Bil’s rating (out of 5): BBB
USA, 2020. Buffalo FilmWorks, Paramount Pictures, Platinum Dunes, Sunday Night. Screenplay by John Krasinski, based on characters created by Scott Beck, Bryan Woods. Cinematography by Polly Morgan. Produced by Michael Bay, Andrew Form, Brad Fuller, John Krasinski. Music by Marco Beltrami. Production Design by Jess Gonchor. Costume Design by Kasia Walicka-Maimone. Film Editing by Michael P. Shawver.
An exciting opening sequence takes us back to before the events of the first film, dramatizing the first day that the world changed and the terrifying monsters with poor vision and excellent hearing arrived on earth during no less an all-American situation than a kids’ baseball game. John Krasinski (who returns as director), Emily Blunt and their children barely survive the experience before we then flash forward to the first film’s final moments and continue directly from there. The opening sequence also establishes the newly added character of Cillian Murphy as a friend and neighbour, whom Blunt, her two older children and newborn baby go in search of, finding him living alone in a stronghold as the only survivor of his own family. He has a radio that’s playing Bobby Darin’s “Beyond the Sea” on a loop, which he thinks nothing of but which daughter Millicent Simmonds insists on following to its origin. While she and Murphy go off on that dangerous mission, her vulnerability to the threat of the monsters increased by her deafness, Blunt, baby and her injured son Noah Jupe stay behind trying to hold the fort and stay alive. This sequel to the megahit 2018 original matches the quality of its predecessor, the various sequences are more or less as clever and nervewracking as they were the first time around, but just because a sequel is good, does that mean we need it? Part of what made the first one such a talking point was that its concept was so fresh, or at least felt that way, and making a good follow-up only reminds us that lightning can’t strike the same place twice even when everyone involved is maintaining their efforts. The new elements that have been added to help compensate for this include a dangerous run-in with what look like cave-dwelling pirates and an island of noisy, happy people who live in comfortably loud safety since the aliens, who cannot swim, won’t get to them. Both are dealt with and processed far too quickly in a rushed final act, so what you have is a sequel that, despite a good many scary moments and a host of superb visual effects, never actually justifies its existence as more than just an opportunity to make more money.