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HTF BLU-RAY REVIEW: The Marine 2



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#1 of 2 Matt Hough

Matt Hough

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Posted January 01 2010 - 02:09 PM

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The Marine 2 (Blu-ray)

Directed by Roel Reiné

Studio: Twentieth Century-Fox
Year: 2009
Aspect Ratio: 1.85:1   1080p   AVC codec
Running Time: 95 minutes
Rating: R
Audio: DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 English; Dolby Digital 5.1 Spanish, French, Portuguese
Subtitles: SDH, Spanish, Portuguese, others
Region: A
MSRP: $ 29.99

Release Date: December 29, 2009
Review Date: January 1, 2010
 
 
The Film
2/5
 
The World Wrestling Entertainment organization has been filtering its superstars into movies for quite a few years now, and its latest generation of big names has been showing up in theatrical and made-for-home video films released by Fox over the last couple of years. The Marine 2 is the latest of the home video films to star one of their name attractions: this time it’s Ted Dibiase who headlines the movie (the first one, released to theaters, starred John Cena), but the stories and action remain fairly the same no matter who’s top-billed. These WWE action films are known quantities, so no review is likely to reveal any earth shattering revelations about the stories, the acting, or the overall quality of the resulting production. The film is exactly as one would expect it to be: no better and no worse.
 
On a working vacation at a south seas resort, executive assistant Robin Linwood (Lara Cox) and her marine husband Joe (Ted DiBiase) find themselves under attack by a squad of separatists who demand a substantial dollar tribute from the resort’s millionaire owner Darren Connor (Robert Coleby) before they’ll release their twenty hostages. The terrorists are led by the vicious guerilla fighter Damo (Temuera Morrison) who is working with a mole in Connor’s organization to make sure their takeover of the resort is an unqualified success. After a mercenary squad fails to recapture the resort, Joe finds himself alone in doing battle against this well-armed, seemingly unbeatable squadron of fighters.
 
Think Die Hard on a resort island, and you’ve pretty much got the gist of Christopher Borrelli and John Chapin Morgan’s unexceptional screenplay. The lone fighter against seemingly unfathomable odds is a story as old as time, and Borrelli and Morgan haven’t added anything to the mix to distinguish it from its many dozens of like-minded action films. There are hand-to-hand (and foot-to-foot) fight sequences, lots of explosive effects, and endless gunfire as the hero escapes sprays of bullets with but a few minor scratches. (At one point, he must break his left hand to escape from some handcuffs, but by the end of the final encounter, the hand seems to have miraculously healed as he grips his rescued wife lovingly.) Of course, no one goes into these films expecting Citizen Kane, and there are occasionally effective moments of suspense that pay off rather well (a Muay Thai fight sequence that pits Dibiase against two expert fighters ends rather magnificently), but Roel Reiné’s direction isn’t consistently driving to maintain interest even for ninety minutes, and the final confrontation is one of the film’s lesser encounters.
 
No great acting performance is necessary for Ted DiBiase to succeed in The Marine 2 since his physical prowess is by far the more necessary element for the film’s success, but these kinds of films rise or fall with their villains, and, sad to say, The Marine 2 doesn’t have a sterling bad guy. Temuera Morrison’s accent seems to waver between Southeast Asian and British rather disconcertingly, and he’s not enough of a physical presence to dominate the very muscular DiBiase. Even worse is the mumbling-through-clinched-teeth performance of Robert Coleby as the resort owner. His line readings are stilted, and he seems ill-at-ease for some reason, not bursting with the cocky confidence a person of his station should be exhibiting. Lara Cox does what she can with her wife’s role, alternately commanding and frightened as the story calls for. Leave it to veteran Michael Rooker as former Army man Church to walk away with the film’s acting honors as he inevitably makes up his mind to help the marine in over his head and eventually help to save the day.
 
 
Video Quality
3/5
 
The movie has been framed at 1.85:1 and is presented in 1080p using the AVC codec. It’s a very inconsistent transfer with sharpness constantly a problem as if the camera operator (who’s also the film’s director) has trouble pulling accurate focus especially in the latter half of the movie. Colors are agreeably saturated and flesh tones are usually good (though there are some shots where some skin takes on a purplish hue). Blacks are very deep and look very good with better than adequate shadow detail. The film has been divided into 24 chapters.
 
 
Audio Quality
4/5
 
The DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 sound mix has been pitched at a very high volume level which might require some adjustment of your equipment before the movie proceeds. With the extensive gunfire and explosions, the surround channels have excellent opportunities for heavy activity, and they’re usually taken advantage of quite nicely in a very commanding sound mix. The LFE channel also gets a better than average workout which, for a made-for-video film, is quite impressive.
 
 
Special Features
3/5
 
All of the bonus features are presented in 1080i (with the exception of the trailers).
 
There are four extended scenes which may be played individually or in one 9 ¼-minute grouping.
 
There are two deleted scenes which may be played in one bunch lasting 2 ¾ minutes or individually.
 
The director has put together a deleted shot montage which are favorite camera shots which got cut but which he loves. Backed by the music score of Trevor Morris, the sequence lasts 5 ¾ minutes.
 
“Village Virtuoso: The Final Fight” is a 5 ¼-minute behind-the-scenes featurette showing the preparation and shooting of the final encounter between Ted DiBiase and Temuera Morrison.
 
“The Last Resort: Inside the Terrorist Siege” has director Roel Reiné talking for 3 minutes about the organization of the shooting of the resort takeover early in the film (which he blocked out using a model of the resort prior to filming).
 
“East Meets West: Muay Thai Fight” is another behind-the-scenes look at a fight scene, this time the movie’s best action sequence as the three participants rehearse the fight choreography over and over before shooting begins. It lasts for 4 ¾ minutes.
 
“Production Paradise: Filming in Thailand” is a too-brief 4 ¼-minute tribute to the two villages in Thailand where location shooting took place for the movie.
 
“Building a Legacy: Ted’s Story” is a little general background on the three generations of DiBiases who have been professional wrestlers with father Ted, Sr. beaming with pride about his son’s athletic accomplishments. This runs for 5 minutes.
 
“Play by the Roels: Inside the Production” finds the movie’s cast and crew talking about their director and his also serving as the film’s camera operator willing to get down and dirty with them during filming. It runs for 3 ¼ minutes.
 
There are 6 ¾ minutes of Muay Thai fight outtakes (actually the five steadicam takes of the fight and the four handheld camera takes of the fight) in their pure form.
 
There are 1080p trailers for Jennifer’s Body, Something Something Something Darkside , Behind Enemy Lines: Colombia, and 12 Rounds, among others.
 
 
 
 
In Conclusion
2/5 (not an average)
 
The Marine 2 is a slightly less than adequate action film made-for-home video with minor actors telling a predictable story in less than thrilling fashion. The Blu-ray picture isn’t always up to par, but the sound is quite impressive for a non-theatrical release. Fans of the WWE will likely want to rent this just to compare star Ted Dibiase’s debut performance with other wrestling stars who have come before him to the movies.
 
 
Matt Hough
Charlotte, NC
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#2 of 2 Holer

Holer

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Posted January 02 2010 - 02:22 AM

Thanks for the review. The reasoning behind this one is a little strange. If John Cena is not available for a sequel, why bother making a sequel to a film that was only moderately successful to begin with? Surely it wouldn't have taken much to make a few re-writes and come up with a wholly different story. Even John Cena had the brains not to be in the sequel and moved on to something different.

The WWF has a real opportunity here to become the kings of direct-to-DVD actioners. They've got the 'stars', all it takes is a little imagination. 'The Condemned', the WWF version of 'Battle Royale', was pretty good and I'm part of the small minority that thought the first 'Marine' movie was a hoot, largely because of the scene chewing performance by Robert Patrick as the baddie. Both movies had solid action scenes and great villains and the WWF was even smart enough not to give their heroes too much acting to do and focused on what they do best, which is lots of physical mayhem.

I will always enjoy this kind of stoopid entertainment and I know I'm not alone. I do hope the WWF keeps that modicum of imagination going as they continue to crank out these flicks.