Thursday, November 19, 2015

The Collection

  With how much The Collector impressed me, I knew I was going to be watching it's sequel the same day. Lo and behold! Here's a decent sequel that tries hard and manages to be well worth a watch. The Collection is Aliens to The Collector's Alien. It's bigger, louder, nastier, and there's just... more. Especially more blood and guts. Does this mean it's better? Well... no. It's not. The first one almost had an elegance in how simple it was, it effectively utilized every second of screentime and delivered so much raw suspense and tension, it legitimately had me squirming in my seat. This one is a gore fest with some great sets, but it's rather lacking in the suspense/tension department. It feels a lot like Saw II as opposed to Saw. In this one, they find the lair of the villain from the first movie and a privately funded team of mercenaries go in to rescue the daughter of a very wealthy man. Oh boy.

  I hate to reference yet another movie not remotely connected to this one, but... The entire look and feel of this movie reminded me of a very specific scene from a movie called The Cell. There's a scene in that movie where the protagonist is rooting around in the mindscape of a serial killer via the wonders of sci-fi technology, and she comes across an archive of... human dolls. Or something. The style, the aesthetic, all of it- it reminds me so very much of The Collection. That is one of my favorite scenes from The Cell, and it's unfortunately a very brief one. If that was a brisk jog through the mind of a serial killer, than The Collection is a casual stroll through the park. The entire movie looks like that one scene as our protagonists are trapped in the halls and rooms of the killer's hideout.

  Despite having a lot more to look at, and far more opportunities to showcase a very creepy style, The Collection doesn't seem to have the same level of creativity as it's predecessor. Which is weird, because this movie gets very elaborate with it's traps and kills. But maybe too elaborate? The sheer amount of traps, regardless of how innovative they were in the first movie was in and of itself creative. I can imagine the writers had a problem on their hands here though. Do they do more of the same? More of what they already know works? Or do they try to open up the scale a bit and do more? They clearly chose the latter and I don't blame them. They did a very good job with what they had to work with.

  The movie has it's fair share of scares and gory moments, and it's still overflowing with style like it's predecessor. It's not bad by any means. However... despite the plot managing to facilitate the return of Arkin, he's saddled with the aforementioned mercenaries as they've all but forced him to be their guide through the killer's lair; an old abandoned hotel. This is fine in concept, but the mercenaries are such unlikable meatheads that they might as well have 'disposable' stamped on their foreheads. There needs to be a severely unkind word for cliche. What 'fuck' is to 'sex', we need one like that for cliche, because that's what these guys are. All except their leader maybe. He was an interesting character, and I don't even think he was actually a mercenary at all.

  Anyway, the problem with the mercs isn't their disposition at all, it's simply the fact that they weigh the story down. The Collector was so brilliant, a word I don't throw around very often, was because you didn't have a bucket load of dispensable characters. The majority of the movie had Arkin dodging and avoiding traps on his own. Sure, there was the family, but they weren't disposable. He was desperately trying to save them. You kinda felt sad when one of them died. In here, there's nothing of the sort. Not only do we as an audience not care about these mercenaries, Arkin doesn't either. He actively tries to ditch them over and over for his own good.

  Just going through the motions with them was a slog. Also, this movie is probably only an hour long if you took out all the flashbacks. It's only an hour and thirteen minutes long everything included, before the end credits roll. You'd think the movie would be more useful with it's time given that it only really even has an hour. But, that's backwards logic. The length of the movie is determined not beforehand (usually) but by how much usable material you end up with. This could easily be retooled to be the last act of the first movie. Sure, the movie would probably be a little over two hours, but whatever. I'm getting off topic. It's a short freakin' movie. That's not necessarily a bad thing though.

  Given that most of the characters are cheap, the only two that really count is the kidnapped girl and Arkin. Both are exceptional. The girl was a little underdeveloped but she made up for it by being a rather kick ass character and a well acted one at that. Arkin once again proves himself to be an out-of-the-box thinker, using his brain when everyone else around him isn't. He saves as many people as he can, and gets some time to shine during the fantastic climax. Which brings me to this movie's greatest strength- it's visuals. There's some downright stunning cinematography in this one, possibly even more than in the original. I shan't forget some of these eye catching scenes anytime soon.

  The Collector and The Collection neatly go hand in hand, even if this one feels more like a companion piece than a full sequel, I still think it's worth a look if you liked the first one. If more sequels were at least this good, then... you know, there'd be less movies that suck. Like, overall. Which is a good thing, and so is The Collection.

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