Wednesday, March 14, 2012

Gremlins 2: The New Batch (1990)

I had the pleasure and terror of seeing this movie in the theater at age eight if I’m not mistaken.  I remember being wide eyed as I seen the movie poster on the now playing advertising spot outside the theater.  We were on a family vacation in Tennessee and I was super excited to watch this movie.  I recall being slowly sucked into my seat and hiding my eyes occasionally as the gremlins began to show up in the movie.  There is one scene I remember well as it frightened the life out of me.  I’ll be sure to mention that a bit further down as I go over the story.  I must first think of this film as a sequel that indeed intentionally directs itself to a different path than the original.  I believe it was intended to be a more comical take on the gremlin creatures considering the number of Looney Tune references by means of what actions the gremlins sometime do.  Comparisons are all too natural to first think on when discussing a sequel but I’ll try to eliminate it for now.


                It was pleasant to see the main cast back to get an immediate comfort for the film.  I like the path Billy Peltzer (Zach Galligan) attempts in his life by becoming a building designer in New York City.  It was clear he was interested in such a field by the drawings he did in the previous film.  Kate (Phoebe Cates) supports Billy obviously by taking a tour guide job at the very building he works in, not exactly a career path.  It was good to see the Chinatown shop, one last time, with Gizmo and the plot of a building developer Daniel Clamp (John Glover) trying to modernize the area.  The genetic lab in the building for the film is a nice excuse for a potential easy idea box of what to do with some of the gremlins.  I even enjoyed when Clamp thought Gizmo originally came from the lab and said they could have rented the lab space to three shrinks and a surgeon.  It gives his character a neat bit of cluelessness.

                Gizmo eventually gets hit with water which you know is coming but the scene is still creative enough to be fun.  I will note that the bright light factor for Gizmo and all the gremlins seemed to be less apparent throughout.  Sometimes the light would be a problem while other times they would wander around in lighted areas with no ill effects at all.  I take that to be frustrating at times as I like the gremlins story and idea so much I want that to be integrated into the film.  It’s not a deal breaker but it’s a downer overall l for me personally.  As the gremlins take over the building it’s quite ridiculous.  I would say there is a mix of great classic gremlin type behavior along with some gag humor.  I did enjoy any mischief involving mechanical devices as gremlins are known to tamper with such things.  I didn’t like so well the shear silliness they portrayed obviously referring to the cartoonish type of moments.  I don’t mean to be misunderstood as I did enjoy the wacky scenes mostly.  I prefer a darker take on the gremlins the film did go with at some moments.

                The spike gremlin (or Mohawk) one did provide a mean nastiness to the gremlins.  That one seemed to be groomed from the very beginning as a Mogwai to be the darker element in the movie.  It was a very mean spirited gremlin that tormented Gizmo for fun and even wielded an assault gun in an evil manner.  It drank up the spider potion in the lab to complete its transformation into the most gruesome gremlin in the movie.  Needless to say it was my favorite gremlin in the film.  For me it represented the true nature I wanted to see of the creatures.

                I’ll get back to the moment I can always remember as an eight year old in which Clamp is investing a disruption in his secretary’s work area.  He sees a gremlin smashing a keyboard while comically imitating the disposed of secretary.  The gremlin whips a glass coffee pot at Clamp and ducks away out of sight.  I had tremors on my body wondering where that sneaky little gremlin was.  The suspense isn’t anything terrifying unless you’re a young child as I was.  The gremlin jumps up and attacks him as I jump up and hope for the movie to speed up.  Clamp finishes it off in a paper shredder while making a gooey green mess.  Later Billy is in Clamps office and captures an electric gremlin, which drank an electricity potion in the lab, and puts it on hold in the phone system.  It’s a clever plot point actually.

                The final gathering of the gremlins was an iffy scene.  I know it’s a simple way to eliminate them but setting the clocks ahead seems a bit unimaginative considering there are so many windows on the building.  Won’t the gremlins notice the sunlight?  A creature that sensitive to it would surely be weary of it.  I suppose I forgot that Clamp had snuck out of the building to suspend a giant evening night sky outside his lobby area.  I’m not making that part up, it actually happens.  The silly gremlin scenes rein supreme in the closing moments as a song number is performed and a variety of light hearted antics occur.  The electric gremlin ends up the hero as it electrifies the mass of gremlins in the lobby courtesy of a brilliant idea from Billy.  Now what happened to the electric gremlin still puzzles me.  Where did it go?  The film didn’t care as much to consider it but having it grounded somehow would have been neat.

                It’s meant to be a happy ending with nearly all cast members surviving, sorry Christopher Lee L  I did grow up on gremlins and the film has extra nostalgia sediment for me.  I’ve watched the movie countless times.   I believe since the director intended to approach this film in a more slapstick manner that it succeeds to be what it is, a goofy take on the gremlins universe.  I would have liked to see a more science fiction take with back story on the gremlins origin mixed with a darker overall feel.  I to this day want to know where they came from.  Was it a thousand years ago?  During WWII or perhaps they’re from another distant ancient planet?  I’m a junkie for detail like that and one day I hope to get the answers for it.  It’s good regardless to see the gremlins again with that cast from the first.  Also, Gremlins is one of my favorite franchises.  I can understand why some people would prefer this movie over the original in the sense it’s a more comical film with hardly any scary moments.  I make my guess it comes down to if you enjoy a more serious science fiction approach or silly goofy laugh scenes.  I personally know many people who like this one over the first and it irks me only because I don’t, ha-ha! 

                Rating: 7.5 of 10


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