Friday, February 13, 2015

Jack Frost 2: Revenge of the Killer Snowman (2000) Review:

In the late 1990s, there were a number of low budget holiday horror related movies that received public releases. Some of which were abysmal, while others showed that they were not gold, but did have something to like about them. Aside from being mistaken for Michael Keaton's family holiday film with the same name Jack Frost (1998), Michael Cooney's Jack Frost (1997) was by no means a spectacular film with great production value or any other kind of value for that matter. It had a cheap look in its sets, practical/special effects and not all of its actors sounded fully invested. Yet with a premise that was turned on its head, with a remarkably goofy but memorable villain who had inventive kills, this slasher film seemed to grow on the viewers it was played in front of. Now as for whether this green lit its sequel or not that's a whole other topic of discussion.

Is that the Stay Puffed Marshmallow Man?
For what's given on the surface, it seems like things are kept to a standard. But that turns out to be proven wrong as the viewer will see that Michael Cooney, who credits himself as the writer/director again made some noticeable changes to this entry. Most of which these revisions undermine what small credibility the first installment made for itself. A year after Jack Frost was disposed of, audiences revisit Sheriff Sam Tiler (Christopher Allport) and his wife who decide that for this Christmas, it's time to go somewhere else. This time by attending a friends wedding in a tropical resort. Seems like a smart choice until someone digs up the buried antifreeze that Jack Frost (Scott MacDonald) was melted in. This already brings up a big question. Who in the world dug up Jack Frost and if it was buried in an unmarked grave, how'd the person find the location? This character is never announced to the audience nor does he play an integral part to the rest of the plot. Wouldn't it have been more interesting if it was someone Sam knew?

This is just the beginning. The continuity is astonishingly bad when it comes to story and reasons. Another example of this is the rebirth of Jack Frost. It makes no sense at all and fails to explain why it worked.  The only thing Cooney successfully gives justification for is Jack Frost's weakness. The other significant modification Cooney makes to this screenplay is making the characters a little too self aware of the story at hand. A good choice for this claim is the reappearance of Agent Manners (David Allen Brooks). Even Allport's character mentions how he doesn't understand how Manners survived/followed him. Instead of actually answering this question, David Allen Brooks ends up playing Manners like that of a parody to what the character of Manners originally was portrayed. Every other actor plays their character alright but not worth remembering. Interestingly enough though, famous actor Doug Jones has a small role (although its nothing memorable either).

Christopher Allport as Sam Tiler again plays his character like before; timid but courageous enough to fight. He and Scott MacDonald, voice of Jack Frost are the two highlights. MacDonald again flexes his voice chops for Frost and it sounds like he had fun once more as the cold-blooded killer. Sadly though, the viewing experience will have audiences thinking there wasn't much of Jack Frost in it either. In fact, there's a good portion of the movie where Jack Frost just vanishes and doesn't show up until the last few minutes to the finale. This all happens when Frost realizes he can create little deadly snow puffball creatures. The idea was fine but the fact that once they were created, Frost took a back seat. Isn't this movie about Jack Frost? Why isn't he in it as much? It is about him right? The cinematography by Dean Lent (who also worked on the first film) did an ok job at getting the standard shots but it still doesn't stand out anywhere. Lent only seems to be good hiding the fact that the cast is not on an island when it comes to inside buildings. Outside though, it’s noticeable.

Hitch hiking again?
The last two elements not covered yet are the effects and music. For the special/practical effects used - it looks somewhat better than before. These are especially distinct when Jack Frost goes from solid to powder snow form. It's not James Cameron good but it isn't awful either for the movie that it is. The gore is perhaps stronger, with deaths more grizzly than before. Some of which are predictable while others not so much. Some of which these kills are wonderfully quoted by MacDonald. The music composed by Chris Anderson (another crewmember who worked on the first) is only mediocre at best this time. Sometimes there will be a unique tune while others there will be recycled material. The track that gets recycled the most is agent Manners which was ok for the first time but wears thin very quickly after every time he says a line. I guess being creative with the music wasn't even in Anderson's agenda this time either. This sequel is kind of watchable but isn't much of a guilty pleasure like the first.

Even with main actors, writer/director, cinematographer and musical composer all returning, only half as much entertainment can be taken from this already mediocre franchise. It's two leads and the violence are the only real redeeming qualities. Michael Cooney's writing worsens with every passing minute and even forgets that the movie is about Jack Frost for a bit, thus leaving its already small fan base rather dry.

Points Earned --> 3:10

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