Tuesday, December 30, 2014

The Purge: Anarchy (2014) Review:

The year 2013 had a curiously captivating idea introduced into its horror genre. The launch of The Purge (2013) attracted many people to the theaters due to their eager nature to see the kind of macabre acts that could happen if such an event were real. The premise was unique and intriguing but the end result was not what people expected or received. Instead of seeing this concept being fully exploited, the production crew gave its viewers a very average film with stock characters with inhumane personalities, generic violence and standard execution. But like many other films that did well at the box office (even with bad reviews), managed to obtain a sequel. However unlike most sequels, this installment actually improves upon the original. It's not vastly refreshing but it does have better qualities than its predecessor.

Frank Grillo & his tag-alongs
If a viewer has seen the first film, a good guess can be inferred on what this one will be about. Instead of continuing the story on its beginning characters, writer/director James DeMonaco focuses on a new set of characters (quite honestly that’s fine, not many liked the original characters). All of which start as different character threads of which different people become apart of the annual purge, whether they expected to or not. What works with having separate story lines is that they come together as one, rather quickly. This keeps the story moving not only in maintaining audiences’ attentions but also by physical location. In place of having the setting focused on one household, DeMonaco now directs the viewers’ attention to the world outside where this annual "holiday" happens nationwide. Accompanying that is Jacques Jouffret's cinematography, which enlarges his viewfinder to get better panning shots of the disarray happening around the main characters.

The characters that we look at are of different areas and situations. Frank Grillo plays a man out for vengeance after his son was killed. Notably, Grillo kind of looks and acts (a little) like The Punisher. I could only imagine what a field day The Punisher would have on this day! But I digress. Carmen Ejogo and Zoƫ Soul play a mother and daughter duo who end up being saved by Grillo's character. Zach Gilford and Kiele Sanchez play a couple who becomes stranded at the beginning of the purge. When all these characters finally meet up together, it is their determination that makes them likable. In fact, they even help each other develop which is important in this kind of movie, where morals are highly advised when it comes to the legalization of murder. Even Edwin Hodge (the victim from the last movie) has a brief cameo along with Michael Kenneth Williams who both play rebels against the purge. They are both very welcome to fight back.

Unsuccessfully, the film still does not overcome much else. The writing incorporates multiple subplots. Some of which pertain to the main characters, where either it is concluded and has no effect on the plot or isn't concluded and felt irrelevant to begin with. There's also a subplot about government conspiracies where it is partially addressed and then left alone with giant plot holes that make no sense. When people complained about the violence being too generic from the first, apparently nobody heard them because nothing is exactly fixed there either. People are still beating the crap out of each other with the simplest and common of weapons. If this is the night of legal violence, then get creative! Use something different! The only true scary element to this movie is how sadistic various people are depicted and the beliefs they hold to this event.

Giving your buddy a thumbs up or a fist bump because they get the chance to blow someone's head off or dismember them is god awfully sick. It should make the viewer excessively happy when these perverse people are put in their place. It is so gratifying. It's also strange because as the confrontations continue from beginning to end, they seem to become less and less personal, which is kind of what I thought the purge was all about. But to watch these weirdos say their wicked holy prayer before butchering somebody is just plain fiendish. However going back to the last flaw, Nathan Whiehead's musical score again fails to compel. The composition is loaded with electronic pulses and ticking percussion to emphasize tension but in the end it's not the best listening experience for music collectors. It is an improvement in different areas but still not spectacular entertainment.

Writer/director James DeMonaco did make some noticeable revisions to this installment compared to the first entry. This time it has likable characters with the right development, better casting and moments that do make the purge look even more sick than before. Yet, it still suffers from the cliched surrounding violence, unimportant subplots and a tiresome musical score.

Points Earned --> 6:10

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