Plot: What’s it about?
Although this is titled Cruel Intentions 2, it is really a prequel and as such, takes place before the original. The time is a few years before the events in the original and the place is Manchester Prep, an elite school in New York. Sebastian Valmont (Robin Dunne) has just arrived on the scene and though he has led a wild life until now, he plans to change all that. He seeks to meet that one special girl and start a real relationship, instead of just thinking about sex and his next seduction. The plan starts off well enough when Sebastian meets Danielle (Sarah Thompson), who just might be that one girl, but soon enough things take a turn off the simple path. Sebastian’s stepsister Kathryn (Amy Adams) intends to break up their little lovefest and in grand style, by using herself as bait. But Sebastian seems determined to remain on track, no matter what Kathryn does to derail his plans. Can she manage to tempt him into ruining his plans with Danielle, or will Sebastian teach Kathryn a lesson after all?
As if the first Cruel Intentions wasn’t bad enough, now we have a prequel, which seems more like a remake. Of course, Cruel Intentions offered nothing new either and aside from cast members, the two films are pretty much the same. I wasn’t impressed at all with the first film, but those desperate for small peeks at female flesh were, so I suppose more of the same wouldn’t hurt anything. And if you’re a fan of the first one, then this is almost a lock, as you’re given more of the same, but with new cast members. The male here is a Ryan Phillipe stunt double, close enough for the sake of this release, while the females look good and have the hair color chart covered. In truth, I found this to be better than the original, as it was less pretentious and had much sharper dialogue. I know some will argue that without the acting skills of Buffy it can’t be as good, but I suppose we’ll agree to disagree. I recommend this to those interested and if you need to choose one or the other, I suggest this streamlined prequel.
I am not a fan of those teen aimed television shows like Dawson’s Creek and Dark Angel, so to me, most of the performers could switch places and never disturb the flow. We have a mix & match of various teen performers here, none too impressive and most a real disappointment. But while the girls can’t act much, they’re better than Jessica Alba and I’m just thankful she’s not in this one. The females seem to know their acting limitations in this case though, so unlike Sarah Michelle Gellar in the original, their performances seem self aware and much more effective. They use their looks and charisma to good ends here, which means even if the acting reeks, there is always decent eye candy to fall back on. The lead male actor is the typical Dawson’s Creek/ Dark Angel guy, miserable acting and no sense of place within his role. My advice? Stick to television or teen comedies, at least Freddie Prinze, Jr. knows his role in the business. The cast includes Keri Lynn Pratt (Drive Me Crazy, The Smokers), Sarah Thompson (The Ice Storm, A Wake In Providence), Any Adams (Drop Dead Gorgeous), and one of the worst actors I’ve ever seen, Robin Dunne (The Big Hit, Tv’s Dawson’s Creek), who seems like a cross eyed Josh Jackson.
Video: How does it look?
Cruel Intentions 2 is presented in a 1.78:1 anamorphic widescreen transfer, with a full frame edition included on the disc’s flip side. I wasn’t overly impressed with this transfer, but it still looks very good and I doubt anyone will be let down. This was a direct to video release and as such, it lacks the refinement of a traditional feature film, but again, this is a fine treatment. The colors look rich, flesh tones seem natural, and contrast is well balanced also. I did see some grain and moire patterns at times, but I was never distracted in the least, so no real complaints in the end. I am pleased Columbia/Tristar offered an anamorphic widescreen version, despite the nature of the feature.
Audio: How does it sound?
This disc uses a Dolby Digital 5.1 track, but aside from a few instances and the musical soundtrack, there isn’t much in terms of dynamic audio here. But the pop rock driven soundtrack comes across very well here, in rich and lush form at all times. The surrounds don’t see much action from sound effects, but a couple scenes do make good use of the extended channels. So this is not a powerful mix by any means, but it does the material justice and that is enough in this case. The dialogue is clean and crisp also, with no issues in terms of volume or clarity in the least. This disc also includes a 2.0 surround track, as well as subtitles in English, Chinese, Korean, and Thai.
Supplements: What are the extras?
This disc houses some thin talent files, but no other supplements were tacked on.