DVD Review HTF REVIEW: The Ring Two (Unrated Edition)

Discussion in 'DVD' started by Matt Stone, Aug 28, 2005.

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  1. Matt Stone

    Matt Stone Lead Actor

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    [​IMG]
    The Ring Two (Unrated Edition)
    Directed By: Hideo Nakata

    Studio: DreamWorks
    Year: 2005
    Aspect Ratio: 1.85:1 (Anamorphic)
    Running Time: 2 Hr. 8 Mins.
    Rating: Unrated
    Audio: 5.1 Dolby Digital (English, French), 2.0 Dolby Digital (English)
    Subtitles: English, French, and Spanish
    MSRP: $29.99
    Street Date: 23 August, 2005

    Review Date: 28 August, 2005
    (Ratings are out of five stars)

    Summary
    It was only a matter of time before the powers that be decided to release a follow-up to the sleeper hit of 2002. This time around, DreamWorks recruited Hideo Nakata (the director of the original Japanese Ring) to continue the good work started by Gore Verbinski. The story picks up where the first film left off. Rachael Keller (Naomi Watts) and her son Aidan (David Dorfman) have moved off to Smalltown, USA in an effort to escape their past. It isn’t too long before nasty ol’ Samara starts up to her old tricks and begins killing people through the boob-tube. Rachael and Aidan are forced to join up with cookie-cutter concerned male lead, Max (Simon Baker) and take down Samara once and for all.

    If you’ve seen any horror sequels, you can figure out this one without even watching it. Rather than creating a unique film that expounds on the mythology set up in the first film, Nakata (a damn good director when he wants to be) chooses to cover the same ground addressed by The Ring. The first film built a strong atmosphere highlighted by well-executed jump-scares. This time around Nakata uses a little more flair when compared to the subdued nature of the original. Call me old fashioned, but I prefer the former. CGI is overused here, and it looks sub par for the most part. The deer sequence is a good example of bad looking CGI that should have been done another way (even if that other way was cutting the scene).

    Any product built around a gimmick makes it hard to follow up without seeming…well, gimmicky. I’m not calling the first Ring a gimmick flick, but with something as unique and identifiable, you run into a situation where the sequel has a hard time not appearing like an imitation. This is especially hard to get around in the horror genre. Just look at all of the Halloween and Friday the 13th flicks. From the opening sequence forward, Ring Two feels like a retread of the first film. Atmosphere is built, and then deconstructed with bad jump-scares and weak death scenes.

    Simon Baker is fine as the male counterpart to Watt’s heroine, but he doesn’t bring any of the humor that Martin Henderson brought to the first film. Young David Dorfman was great in the first Ring as well as the Texas Chainsaw remake from a couple of years ago, and he’s solid here too. He’s able to provide a level of intelligence that a lot of young actors can’t handle and he carries a heavier load this time around. Naomi Watts is just as convincing here as she was the first time, but the film just isn’t compelling enough to hold my interest, so all of the good acting seems moot. The story does pick up some steam about halfway through, but by that point I just wasn’t interested anymore.

    Film Rating: [​IMG][​IMG]

    Video
    Colors seemed accurate, although not nearly as stylized as in the first film. There’s a fair amount of grain throughout the movie, but I didn’t mind it. I don’t really find that a fault of the transfer, and I’d much rather have grain than an over-processed video-like appearance. Regardless of what I did like, this transfer was not without it’s problems. For example, I noticed occasional shimmering pixels on the edge of objects in addition to some banding problems in darker scenes. I’ve read that the new scenes not present in the theatrical version look significantly worse than the rest of the film. I didn’t see the film theatrically, so I can’t be sure what was new, but I did notice that certain scenes looked over-processed and noisy compared to the rest of the film. The first scene I noticed was the flea-market/fair sequence. The discussion between Watts and Simon Baker looked very noisy and colors were over-saturated. Whether this was intentional or not, it just looks bad. Compared to how strong the transfer was on the first film, this is a big disappointment.

    Video Rating: [​IMG][​IMG][​IMG]

    Audio
    As opposed to the sub par video, the soundtrack is pretty solid on this DVD. The first movie had a bombastic DTS track, and while the sequel drops the DTS, the 5.1 Dolby Digital track is every bit as good. Dialog is represented accurately. Surround channels and LFE are utilized well without overwhelming the soundtrack.

    Audio Rating: [​IMG][​IMG][​IMG][​IMG]

    Extras
    The first thing that pops out about this DVD is the immense amount of extras as compared to the release of the first film. I loved the first Ring and was disappointed when it was released with minimal extras. In the case of this DVD, it’s the opposite; a sub par film gets a decent set of extras. Oh well. One downside is that excluding the short film, Rings, none of the extras are presented anamorphically.
    Walter Parkes Introduces Rings(0:49) – A short introduction to the mini-film, Rings.
    Rings(16:39) – This is an interesting feature. It’s a short film that shows the background of the young man featured in the opening sequence of The Ring Two. The set up is that our protagonist, Jake watches the tape and films the events that take place afterward. His goal is to tape more than anyone before him…specifically seven days worth. The film takes us through Jake’s nightmarish week and works as a pretty interesting set up to the film. Visually the short is quite spiffy, but its characters are standard cliché horror movie teenagers.
    Faces of Fear: The Cast(6:12) – A quick look at the two movies from the perspective of the actors and producers. It isn’t too detailed, but you get a good feeling of what the cast and crew were trying to get across.
    Fear on Film: Special Effects(5:45) – A very short summary of the major special effects sequences in the film. As someone who thought the CG sucked, I didn’t find this particularly interesting.
    Samara: From Eye to Icon(5:48) – This feature covers Samara from make-up to history. I liked hearing Rick Baker talk about his make-up, but most of the rest seemed repetitive.
    The Power of Symbols(5:20) – Here is another very short feature, but I found it more interesting than the rest. As the title suggests, it’s a look at the importance of symbols in the film, of which there are many.
    HBO First Look: The Making of Ring Two(13:01) – Like the other HBO First Looks, this is a conventional behind-the-scenes take on the making of The Ring Two. If you’ve already watched the film, this doesn’t serve much of a purpose. It primarily summarizes the film for people who haven’t seen it yet.
    Deleted Scenes(18:36) – A series of eleven scenes that found the cutting room floor. They’re all non-anamorphic and still have time stamps on the bottom of the frame.

    The DVD also features Production Notes, Cast and Filmmaker Biographies, and previews of other DreamWorks releases.

    Extras Rating: [​IMG][​IMG][​IMG]

    In Closing…
    I’m a big fan of the first Ring, as well as the original Japanese film. Pairing up the stellar surviving cast with the director of the original film seems like a can’t-lose formula. Unfortunately, the film just didn’t come together. Scares are less atmospheric this time around, and the feeling of discovery that made the first film so interesting is non-existent. What we’re left with is a film that knows it’s a sequel and doesn’t make any attempt to stand on it’s own feet. As a horror buff, I’m glad I got the chance to finally see this one (I didn’t bother to when it was in the theater), but I can only recommend this one as a rental. The extras are fairly plentiful, but you can’t perfume a stinker with shiny features. Unless you’re already a fan of this film, I’d suggest saving your money.

    Overall Rating: [​IMG][​IMG][​IMG]

    Matt Stone
    28 August, 2005
     
  2. Vincent_P

    Vincent_P Screenwriter

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    Good review of an awful film, Matt, but regarding the new footage and quality differences- did you notice the rainbox color distortion on the fence around the orphanage when Naomi Watts is approaching the building? That was the most obvious example of the subpar video quality of the added scenes. That kind of color distortion simply should not exist in a componant video format.

    Vincent
     
  3. Matt Stone

    Matt Stone Lead Actor

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    I'm glad you brought that up, Vincent. I did notice that instance of rainbow distortion as well as a few others (mainly on walls in the background of shots). Reminded me of the old laserdisc days [​IMG]
     
  4. ShanonS

    ShanonS Stunt Coordinator

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    My wife and I watched this over the weekend. Pretty disappointing! I really liked the first one, and I was hoping for something more. I agree, the deer scene should have been cut, it didn't fit in at all with the rest of the film. They very weekly linked to it later in the movie, but it just threw the whole movie off for me.
     
  5. Matt Stone

    Matt Stone Lead Actor

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    It seemed like they were just rip off the horse scene in the first film. And it was crummy looking to boot. Oh well...
     
  6. Jack Johnson

    Jack Johnson Second Unit

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    There's a reason much of the footage from the "unrated" cut looks terrible: Dreamworks has done little more than drop raw, unfinished footage back into this version of the film.

    No final processing seems to have been done on any of the "new" scenes, and I was shocked to hear that no ADR work or foley have been done either. Listen carefully during some of the shoddy looking passages and you'll get a taste of audio straight from the set with all those pesky real world sounds still very apparent; rustling clothing, microphone noise, etc.

    I'm not an expert on what is done to give a finished print its sheen and crisp definition--especially in the digital age--but I do know that at one time or another, all rough footage shot looks pretty lackluster. It takes time and money to get it color-timed and polished for the finished print, and that's exactly what Dreamworks didn't want to spend here, based on what a horror this half-baked dvd turned out to be.

    For an example of how to really clean footage up for inclusion in an alternate cut, check out the "Director's Cut" of ALIEN; none of the originally deleted material went back into the final film until it matched--perfectly--the look and quality of the rest of the film, and that includes careful attention to sound mixing. A meticulous, loving job...even if the theatrical cut still rules.


    The Ring Two may not be a masterpiece, but it deserved better than this most cynical treatment from the studio (I doubt very much if Hideo Nakata was consulted about this; something tells me he won't be pleased). And for what? Well, to overcome the bad buzz, to be able to sell it for being something other than what it is: The Ring Two. Trouble is, they've only made it worse. But as long as Dreamworks makes money with this strategy, expect to see more films meet with disrespectful treatment from the studios that spawned them.


    Of all the disturbing trends in dvd marketing, this one is the most disquieting.




    --Jack
     
  7. Jesse Blough

    Jesse Blough Second Unit

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    Yeah, I was wondering why certain scenes looked kind of crappy... I have a real small TV and even I noticed it.

    After watching the unrated cut I commented "What was exactly UNRATED about this?" If they submitted this unrated cut they probably would have gotten a PG-13 as well.
     
  8. Jack Johnson

    Jack Johnson Second Unit

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    Yep, even more cynicism from the studio...which understands that promoting a film as "unrated" gives the impression of a more extreme version of the film in terms of violence, gore or sexuality.

    They don't exactly go out of their way to say that The Ring Two's unrated for two reasons, laziness--for not bothering to re-submit the film for rating from the MPAA (another PG13 for sure)--and promotional purposes...and that the deleted material cut back into the film was--in this case--left out for very good reason and doesn't enhance the film in the least. Aesthetically, it lowers the overall quality of the film.

    I had a feeling this might happen, and should've steered toward the theatrical cut. Even at fullscreen--sometimes just an umatted version of a widescreen print--at least it's a finished film...and not the shodiest looking "workprint" status, cobbled together piece on junk you've ever seen.


    --Jack
     
  9. ClaytonMG

    ClaytonMG Stunt Coordinator

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    I personally prefered the Theatrical Cut to the Director's Cut. This film just was meh to me. I think that's cuz I was expecting total crap so I didn't have the bar very high. In the added scenes, some of it appears to be in mono. The thing that bothered me the most in the directors' cut was the scene in the bathroom at the crafts fair when Samara is coming up behind Aidan. In the theatrical cut, I remember that being way more subtle and if I remember right, the audience could only see her in the pictures he was taking... As for the picture quality, did anyone else think it looked EXTREMELY dark?
     
  10. TedT

    TedT Second Unit

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    I didn't notice ANY drop in quality in any of the scenes!

    The movie wasn't THAT bad! Certainly better than the Japanese version of Ringu! (Haven't seen Ringu 2 yet).
     
  11. Matt Stone

    Matt Stone Lead Actor

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    I whole-heartedly disagree with that. I think I liked Verbinski's The Ring better than Nakata's Ringu, but Ringu is miles ahead of this dreck.
     
  12. Jordan_E

    Jordan_E Cinematographer

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    I turned this movie off at the 43 minute mark, thinking I had watched a hell of a lot longer than that! I just couldn't see wasting precious projector lamp time on any more![​IMG]
     
  13. Rich Romero

    Rich Romero Supporting Actor

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    It was definitely too dark.
     
  14. Inspector Hammer!

    Inspector Hammer! Executive Producer

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    I love the original (U.S. re-make), but this one is all wet, no pun intended, oh, wait, of course it was intended.

    Too much water, too much brooding by Dorfman and not enough Samara.

    Also, I absolutely hated it everytime Aidan called his mother 'Rachel', I know that he called her that in the first film, but it just makes the creepy kid creepier and shows a tremendous lack of respect for his mother. As I said in the Movies area, even Samara had the good sense to call her mommy when she took up residence in his body, and she was a supernatural psychopath!

    Also, by calling attention to it and making and issue out of it early in the film, we knew that we were supposed to be on the lookout for something.

    Lastly, did anyone else notice the small snipit of music from The Sixth Sense in the very beginning of the film?
     
  15. Jack Johnson

    Jack Johnson Second Unit

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    Beyond the question of whether the new footage is up to snuff in terms of quality--it isn't in my view--is the consideration of whether it helps the film. I had my doubts, in almost every instance.

    The new sequence where Rachel's kitchen appliances go haywire was especially underwhelming. It felt like recycled Close Encounters cliche's...and it's also the kind of scene that needs to look its best in order to pop off the screen. This footage seemed very pedestrian.

    Mostly due to quality considerations, then, and the fact that the new stuff just didn't enhance the film--serving mostly to bloat it, slow the pace down--I'd say the theatrical version is the better cut.
     
  16. ClaytonMG

    ClaytonMG Stunt Coordinator

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    I did like the theatrical cut better too. But, unfortunately, it is only available in full frame... Not that I would double dip for this movie anyway, unless they release some super version with DTS ES, completely remastered picture... then i might think about it. As for the 6th Sense music, which scene had music from the 6th sense?

    Clayton
     
  17. Jesse Blough

    Jesse Blough Second Unit

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    The theatrical cut (which is supposed to be better) is only available in pan & scan? Geez... Dreamworks really dropped the ball on this one.
     
  18. Richard Michael Clark

    Richard Michael Clark Second Unit

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    Is the 'unrated version' actually the 'director's cut' as it's not referred to as such is it (unlike "The Grudge")?

    Which version is the one Hideo Nakata intended audiences to see?

    Oh, also is the proper original trailer for "The Ring" on this dvd at all as it wasn't on either The Ring or Ringu dvds.
     
  19. Matt Stone

    Matt Stone Lead Actor

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    No clue. I haven't heard him comment about which cut he prefers.
     

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