Thursday, August 21, 2008

Review: Cold War II - Colder and less relevant


In an age of film where creativity and new ideas are drying up faster than spilled beer at an AA meeting, it seems as though any film over 20 years old is getting a sequel (Indiana Jones. Cabin Fever 2) or a remake (The Day the Earth Stood Still,  Breakin' 2: Electric Boogaloo). I have the pleasure of reviewing yet another.

Cold War II stars George W. Bush as the unlikeable protagonist (Although he's replaced early on by either a black Jesus or  Methuselah. I don't want to spoil it) and Vladimir Putin as "The Puppet Master", one of about 25 bad guys throughout the movie. Right off the bat, the star power from part 1 is severely lacking. Where we once had the likes of JFK, Nikita Kruschev, and Ronald Reagan, we now have Bush Jr., Putin and lots of nameless diplomats.

The movie is set 19 years after the ending of the first movie. Russia is now a part of NATO and is officially a "Democracy", but they still lack the key ingredient of "Party in power shall not murder opposition". It starts out with the Russian (Yes it's "Russian" and not "Soviet" now) invasion of Georgia, a little-known country most Americans think resides within US limits. 

The scene cuts to Washington DC where government spokespeople express their outrage over what is going on in Georgia, even going so far as to "Not condone" the actions. Russia responds in typical Russian fashion by banging their Nike Running shoes, (They match the track suit), on the table claiming they will crush the U.S.. 

The U.S. is already busy fighting wars on Terrorism, Homelessness, Drugs, Iraq, Iran, Cuba, Multi-lateralism, Homosexuality, Reputation, Jobs, Oil, the Environment, and Earth. They decide elaborate military posturing will do in this time of crisis and adopt said strategy. 

Russia decides to pull out of NATO, immediately making NATO relevant again. At some point, the Puppet Master (Putin) eventually succeeds in re-conquering Georgia and the Soviet Union is re-born, although this time referring to itself as the "Iron Drapes", so as to avoid confusion with the first regime.

Back in America, the country is in the midst of an historic presidential election which, despite pledges to the contrary, is becoming increasingly personal. Barack Obama airs an ad in which a nursing home is hit by a nuclear missile ridden by an Arab, clearly attempting to scare John McCain's constituency, while McCain counters with a commercial in which the Def Jam Records building is hit by a nuclear missile ridden by McCain. 

The plot line is tough to follow because of how many villains are in it. It's similar to the original Batman movie (with Adam West) where he and Robin are fighting the Joker, Catwoman, Penguin, The Riddler, Walter Cronkite, and the 1972 Miami Dolphins,  except that the villain's in this one are completely independent of each other, making for a confusing experience. 

While the first movie featured a main villain with a story that was easy to follow, it feels as though they just slapped this one together, loosely linking certain enemies with another and expecting the audience to buy into it. 

One major aspect of the movie that was promised in the original Cold War are the "Star Wars" special effects. This movie was originally intended to be a futuristic thriller complete with lasers, but apparently the studio couldn't get them to function properly and went way over budget. 

I stayed in the theatre expecting an M. Night Shyamalan twist ending (America see's dead people and Russia is actually a bunch of killer plants), but it never came.

Compared to the original, Cold War II lacks character development, a clearly defined enemy, a rallying cause, a decent back story and believable decision-making by the main characters (Really? Iraq and Al Qaeda?). This is that rare breed of movie where you root against both sides and wonder quietly, "Why can't they just all lose?". 

I give it 1 and a half stars (Out of 10) and recommend skipping this one to avoid feelings of despair, hopelessness and regret. Also, the theatre ran out of butter, damn.

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