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Columbia TriStar Home Video presents
Cruel Intentions 2 (2000)

"As the school motto goes, if you don't snort it, suck it."
- Gretchen (Annie Sorell)

Review By: Joel Cunningham   
Published: March 15, 2001

Stars: Robin Dunne, Sarah Thompson, Amy Adams
Other Stars: Keri Lynn Pratt, Mimi Rogers, Big Fake Saline Boobs
Director: Roger Kumble

MPAA Rating: R for (strong sexual content involving teens, and for language)
Run Time: 01h:26m:45s
Release Date: March 13, 2001
UPC: 043396058415
Genre: drama

Image Transfer
Audio Transfer

DVD Review

The 1999 update of Dangerous Liaisons wasn't what you'd call a good movie. Entitled Cruel Intentions, it attempted to adapt the classic French novel to modern day, and a New York setting. Ignore the fact that outside of the formal courtship system of 18th century France the plot of the film made little sense; the dialogue was laughably bad and the performances were very inconsistent. Sarah Michelle Gellar at least seemed to have an idea how ridiculous her character was. Reese Witherspoon proved once again that she is good in everything. Ryan Philippe was, as always, a walking mannequin from The Gap. He needs to get a new operating system installed, one that includes sub-routines for acting like "emote" and "blink."

So, why decide to make a sequel to the stupid thing? Well, that's easy! The original was produced for a scant $11 million, and because the sexed-up trailer drew teenage hormone bombs to the theaters in droves, eventually grossed over $39 million (before video and overseas and such and such). So, the studio philosophy became not, "Should there be a sequel?" but, "Money money money." Thus, plans were drawn up to produce a TV series that would focus on events that took place before the film. Let's just further ignore that because a main character dies in the original CI, the show would have a maximum on-air time of two seasons. It didn't matter anyway, since not a single episode of this series, entitled Manchester Prep, ever aired. But the studio couldn't just let this "goldmine" sit on the shelf, and thus, Cruel Intentions 2 was born, forged from the discarded plotlines of the series pilot. Just add nudity.

So, this makes the sequel actually a prequel. Two years before the events in Cruel Intentions, Sebastian (Robin Dunne) has just moved in with his stepmother (Mimi Rogers) and her daughter Kathryn (Amy Adams). Kathryn, born with about five silver spoons in her mouth, lords her popularity over her entire school, Manchester Prep (we have title!). She leads the most elite secret society since the chilling The Skulls, the Manchester Tribunal, a group that makes all the decisions in the school, from who teaches to who is popular. Kathryn gets to judge her classmates and make pronouncements like, "When I'm through with her, she will be the primer slut at Manchester." Snerk. Wheeze. Gasp. Puke.

Sebastian, a bad boy at his old school, tries to come to Manchester with a clean slate, but his wily step-sibling keeps tempting him at every turn, forcing him to shower with saline-enhanced porn stars. The fiend! When he tries to make good with the headmaster's virginal daughter, Kathryn pegs his downfall as priority number one. That is, after combing her hair and degrading her housecleaner.

The script, which was written by Roger Kumble (writer/director on the first film), follows along the same lines as the original, right down to certain lines of dialogue. One character, Cherie, is an exact copy of a girl in CI. In fact, aside from the ending, I can't really think of any significant differences, except this one is dirtier, and features two irrelevant scenes of girls kissing instead of just the one. Oh, and the cast looks even older than they are supposed to. Most of the sophomore girls in my high school had not yet gone through menopause.

Unfortunately, the acting isn't up to par. The first film was fun despite its faults, thanks largely to Gellar and Witherspoon, along with supporting work from Joshua Jackson and Selma Blair. This time around, the Kathryn role is filled by Amy Adams, last seen in the unspeakably dumb Drop Dead Gorgeous. She just doesn't seem to realize that lines like "You realize this means war!" aren't supposed to be delivered with dead seriousness. Actually, they aren't supposed to be delivered at all, but oops, too late. I never thought I'd say it, but Robin Dunne actually makes Philippe look good, or at least less obnoxious. For one thing, he looks like a dweeb. This guy would have his head stuffed into a toilet at any normal school. For another, can you please display an emotion other than "smarmy" and "smarmy, but also horny"? In a supporting role, Mimi Rogers scrapes the bottom of the barrel, leching around after her stepson, asking him if he'd like to pet her pussy... cat. No, really.

You'd think a sequel made by the same director/writer would be at least as good as the original. Unfortunately, this time, Roger Kumble didn't have a classic literary work like Les Liaisons Dangereux to fall back on. Then interchange the campy, likeable cast of Cruel Intentions with a group of non-acting, non-teen stars, and you get... a canceled TV show and a useless, warmed-over TV pilot masquerading as a movie.

Rating for Style: D
Rating for Substance: D


Image Transfer

Aspect Ratio1.85:1 - Widescreen1.33:1 - Full Frame
Original Aspect Rationoyes

Image Transfer Review: Since this was originally supposed to air on television, I assume the 1.33:1 ratio would be the OAR, and the widescreen transfer has simply been matted to 1.85:1. However, I noticed no awkward framing or chopped off heads in the widescreen version.

Both the widescreen and full frame transfers exhibit many of the same problems. In both, colors tend to look a bit dull and washed out. Black level is fair at best, with many scenes suffering from a grayish, washed out look. Still, this is certainly watchable. The transfer overall looks crisp, especially in the outdoor scenes, which was a relief considering many TV shows look muddled and soft on DVD. I noticed no digital artifacts or edge-enhancement and just a bit of film grain.

Image Transfer Grade: B


Audio Transfer

 LanguageRemote Access
DS 2.0Englishyes
Dolby Digital

Audio Transfer Review: The DD 5.1 audio track is pretty standard stuff. Little separates it from the 2.0 mix also included. Dialogue is nicely represented in the center channel, always sounding natural and clear. The score is anchored in the front mains, with some ambient enhancement from the surrounds. There certainly aren't a lot of directional or panning effects (heck, there aren't a lot of sound effects, period). The front soundstage is on the narrow side, but overall, this is an acceptable track for a dialogue-(snicker)-based drama.

Audio Transfer Grade: B


Disc Extras

Static menu
Scene Access with 28 cues and remote access
Subtitles/Captions in English, Chinese, Korean, Thai with remote access
Cast and Crew Biographies
Cast and Crew Filmographies
1 Original Trailer(s)
6 Other Trailer(s) featuring Whipped, Cruel Intentions, Girl, Center Stage, Loser, Groove
Packaging: Amaray
1 Disc
2-Sided disc(s)
Layers: single

Extras Review: In addition to the patented brief Columbia TriStar cast bios, this disc includes a large trailer gallery (fortunately, the studio has spared me the pain of sitting through another Roger Kumble commentary). A ridiculously overdone spot is included for the feature: "Kathryn rules the school with an iron fist..." Interestingly enough, there are several scenes in the preview that aren't in the film, and the focus seems more to be setting up the TV show. Alas, we shall never know the truth behind the Manchester Tribunal. I'm going with Satan worship.

Also included are spots for six other teen-oriented films, three of which I have reviewed for this site. Aren't I special. The quality of the films highlighted certainly varies, but in the trailer for the original Cruel Intentions you do get to hear Sarah Michelle Gellar spout the same inane dialogue that is in Cruel Intentions 2 and actually make it sound amusing. Also featured: Whipped, Girl, Center Stage, Loser, and Groove.

Extras Grade: D+


Final Comments

Manchester Prep was cancelled before it ever aired. Want to know why? And the TV show wouldn't even have had the gratuitous nudity!


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