Sunday, 17 May 2015

The Ring 2 (American version) (4½ Stars)

This film must have been a dream opportunity for the Japanese director Hideo Nakata. In 1998 he made the original Japanese version of "The Ring", and in 1999 he made a sequel. The first film was remade in America in 2002, following the story of the original very closely. Shortly afterwards it was decided to remake the second film as well, and the American studios took the unusual step of inviting Hideo Nakata himself to direct it. He could have played it safe and made an English language clone of his film. Instead of that he commissioned a new screenplay with a completely different story. How many directors are able to look at what they've made after it's been in the cinema, then tear it up and start again?

The first film ended with an open end, which I won't describe here because it would spoil things for anyone who has never seen the films. All I'll say is that Samara remained alive, though it was never specified whether she's a ghost or some other form of supernatural spirit. Let's call her a ghost to make things easy. Rachel Keller has left Seattle to live in the small town Astoria in Oregon. She thinks she can find peace in new surroundings, but Samara has followed her and is stalking her. In the first film Samara had been striving to be remembered, but now she has the urge to find a new mother, and she has selected Rachel as a suitable subject.

The film was not as successful as the first film, but a box office profit of $100 million is still a respectable sum. The critics were less favourable than the public. They didn't like the new direction that the film went in. Interestingly, Roger Ebert was a lone voice claiming the sequel was better than the original. I don't agree with him, but I think I can understand his reasoning. The first film had a very complex plot, with the mystery only being solved one step at a time. The second film is more simple and straightforward. Which is better? Usually simple plots are the best, but I preferred the complexity of the first film. That's why I rate the second film slightly lower.

Earlier today I managed to find the box in which I packed my Japanese DVD's when I moved. I should be able to watch the Japanese Ring films soon to compare them while the American films are still fresh in my memory.

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