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MGM Studios DVD presents
F/X 2 (1991)

"If there's one thing I've learned, it's that nothing's as simple as people say it is."
- Rollie Tyler (Bryan Brown)

Review By: Mark Zimmer   
Published: September 22, 2000

Stars: Bryan Brown, Brian Dennehy
Other Stars: Rachel Ticotin, Joanna Gleason, Philip Bosco, Tom Mason, Kevin J. O'Connor
Director: Richard Franklin

Manufacturer: Laser Pacific
MPAA Rating: PG-13 for (violence, language)
Run Time: 01h:47m:49s
Release Date: June 13, 2000
UPC: 027616816924
Genre: suspense thriller

Image Transfer
Audio Transfer

DVD Review

In my companion review of F/X, I observed that that film felt like a buddy film where the two buddies don't meet until the very end. That isn't a problem with the 1991 sequel. Special effects expert Rollie Tyler (Bryan Brown) and now ex-cop/private detective Leo McCarthy (Brian Dennehy) return, five years later, and this time they're working closely to solve an incredibly complex scheme that involves the mysterious murder of a New York policeman and the unsavory coverup that follows, the mob, the Vatican and Michelangelo.

In this sequel, Tyler is no longer in films, but instead concentrates on making high-end toys, such as a telemetry-operated clown that figures largely in the story. His girlfriend's ex-husband convinces Tyler to help out the law again. This time, the assignment seems harmless enough: to stage a fake shower scene straight out of Psycho in order to lure a peeper/slasher into a trap. But as seems to always be the case for Rollie Tyler, things go horribly wrong, a cop ends up dead, and people are again trying to kill Tyler. It's up to his talent with effects and tricks to stay alive and figure out what's going on.

Dennehy's part is so much larger in this sequel that for the greater part of the film he pushes Tyler and his effects off the screen. This is a shame, because the use of effects to deceive and mislead in the earlier film was a real highlight and part of what made that film as much fun as it was. This time around, the emphasis is on mechanical McGyveresque tricks that depend on the bad guys being cooperative enough to step right in the proper spot; that device is used at least three times. While the first time it's good for a laugh, when it succeeds every time, I can only shake my head. In addition, the script uses the vile maneuver of the bad-guy-who-seems-to-be-dead-but-really-isn't. This tiresome trick wore out its welcome long before 1991, and it shows how desperate the scriptwriter was to inject suspense into the story.

Those desiring nonstop action will be somewhat disappointed. Large sections of the film are devoted to rather quite information gathering. These are punctuated with large-scale set pieces, such as Tyler, his girlfriend and her son trapped in a locked grocery store with an armed assassin; as expected, Tyler is able to use the household items on the shelves to foil the killer.

The sequel does have some good moments, such as the opening sequence with the special effects run amok. F/X 2 also uses the opportunity to more fully flesh out the characters of Tyler and, to a greater extent, McCarthy. We also see more of McCarthy's relationship with Marisa Velez, hinted at in the first movie, and developed better here, although there are some lines that don't ring quite true ("You know how to push all the right buttons." makes me flinch every time I hear it, it's delivered so badly).

Defects notwithstanding, this is a better film than the average sequel, and will provide some good entertainment if you like mysteries. The score by Lalo Schifrin is a big step up from Bill Conti's music for the first film, and nicely captures the slightly underhanded feeling that the film is aiming to produce. You could do a lot worse with a sequel (say, The Fly 2).

Rating for Style: A-
Rating for Substance: B


Image Transfer

Aspect Ratio1.85:1 - Full Frame1.33:1 - Full Frame
Original Aspect Ratioyesno

Image Transfer Review: The picture quality is far better than that on the original film. Colors are bright and richly saturated, and blacks are very good. The image is crisp throughout, with excellent shadow detail. No damage to the source material was observed. A lovely nonanamorphic transfer.

The fullscreen side of the disc is an open-matte transfer, so little if any picture information is lost. Instead, we get large empty areas at top and bottom. The compositions are superior on the widescreen side, so that version is, as usual, recommended.

Image Transfer Grade: A


Audio Transfer

 LanguageRemote Access
DS 2.0Englishno

Audio Transfer Review: Only an English Dolby Surround track is included. Dialogue is almost entirely center-oriented. The surrounds are used primarily for music and explosions, although in the Nassau County sequences there is a great deal of birdsong active there. A decent sound design, but nothing remarkable. In the quiet scenes (of which there are few), some significant high-frequency hiss can be heard.

Audio Transfer Grade: B


Disc Extras

Full Motion menu with music
Scene Access with 24 cues and remote access
Subtitles/Captions in French, Spanish with remote access
1 Original Trailer(s)
Packaging: Alpha
1 Disc
2-Sided disc(s)
Layers: single

Extras Review: Extras are pretty thin. MGM provides a full-frame theatrical trailer, and a booklet with some interesting production notes. Chaptering is adequate. Subtitles are provided only in French and Spanish, and not in English. Effectively, a movie-only release.

Extras Grade: D+


Final Comments

An enjoyable thriller/mystery which is a decent followup to the original. This disc has a very nice transfer, although it is lacking in extras. The film is nonetheless entertaining and will surely be enjoyed by fans of the original.


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