Trivia Shot back-to-back with Scanners 3.
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Scanners 2 : The New Order (1991)
2nd Aug 05
A ‘good’ Scanner discovers a plot to create a New Order of ‘evil’ Scanners.
Review Scanners 2 largely came about thanks to the enormous cult success of the original in Scandinavia, more specifically Sweden. Apparently there was such a demand for the original Scanners that the Scandinavian Video Distribution group begged producer Pierre David to allow a sequel to be made. The Videodrome producer duly stepped up to the plate, found some money, and handed the directing gig to a Christian Duguay, a TV director who suddenly found himself burdened with expanding Cronenberg's mythology. Unfortunately they really needn’t have bothered, because Scanners 2 is a tired retread of Cronenberg’s original, far less intelligent and much more disappointing.
The film opens ok, a dreadlocked Scanner enters a video arcade (replacing the shopping mall in Scanners) and blows it up. By the time we cut to him wandering around an early 90s blue-lit dummy factory, blowing up dummies heads; we can guess he's probably not the hero. He’s captured (by baddie Commander Forrester with the help of evil Scanners Feck and Gruner) and is carted off to the ‘doctors’ at the Morse Neurological Research Institute for 'conditioning'. There, Dr Morse explains to Forrester that their Scanners are all becoming far too addicted to the drug EPH-2. So, bad guys’ stories set, who's the good guy?
Enter David Hewlett as perhaps the best of the three Scanners film heroes (although with competition like Stephen Lack in Scanners, and Steve Parrish in Scanners 3, that's not difficult). David Kellum (Mr Good and Rational Scanner) has just moved to the city to attend vet college where he soon manages to pull fellow student Alice Leonardo with some truly appalling dialogue. But hey; they do go on a date that includes going to a silent disco to what the subtitles could surely only say ‘Futuristic Music’, so it's not all bad.
Their harmony doesn't last long though, for whilst Commander Forrester continues building his New Order of Scanners (including dreadlocked guy, now known as Drak), David Kellum gets caught up in a store robbery with Alice. Kellum initially stands by and watches while two innocents are killed, before finally revealing his powers in a Hulk-rage to save Alice and provide the film with it's first head explosion, a rather weak head top fountain spurt, which isn’t bad, but no match for the iconic imagery of the first.
From here on in, the film follows it's ‘b’ movie routines by cramming in several plot points in such an amateur way, you can pretty much write down the plot notes before they actually happen on screen. Kellum sleeps with Alice (although he uses scanning techniques to convince her - isn’t that a form of rape?) and saves the city from a milk killer in a scene reminiscent of another Cronenberg film, The Dead Zone. At one point Commander Forrester offers to run for Mayor, the next scene he has seemingly won the election in his sleep. It all feels like it’s been done before, about a thousand times actually.
It’s not all bad, Drak is sort of fun as the evil Scanner, but even he is full of inconsistency. If he hates Kellum, why does he let Kellum in on the plot so early on? Oh, it's to clumsily bring in plot exposition. In the hands of Cronenberg, it's not just what happens that matters; it's how it all happens. Scanners 2 just can't be bothered with the how.
Perhaps the worst bit of all - the Empire Strikes Back bit – is where it is revealed at the end of Act 2 (and from out of nowhere) that Kellum is in fact the son of Kim Obrist and Cameron Vale from the initial film. They’re dead of course, but then Kellum finds out he has (adopt Darth Vader voice for full Empire effect) a sister. What? Where did that one suddenly spring from?
When they do meet not long after, sister Julie even tells Kellum how much he looks like his father, which is sort of fine because he does look a little like Stephen Lack, but if he really did look like his father, then surely he should look more like Michael Ironside. Oh, confused now…
And on we go to the end climax, plodding on, with David Hewlett pausing.. every.. time.. he.. says... telepathic. There’s a fairly cool idea with being able to ‘scan’ into people’s minds and see what they see, and a nice fight with Drak at the end with some suitably gross effects, but even they can't really save this derivative effort (if you can ever really accuse a sequel of being derivative – aren’t they all by nature!). After Kellum finally forces a live ‘on-air’ confession from 'Elephant Man' Forrester, Kellum turns to the camera to say, quite finally and emphatically, “No more killing. No more Scanners...”
Unfortunately he was lying, then came Scanners 3...