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In this sequel to David Cronenberg's original classic, a corrupt, power-crazed police official has high ambitions and plans to use the telepathic power of Scanners to achieve his goal. With the aid of a scientist and a new drug, he believes he can control their minds to do his bidding, but a rogue Scanner has other plans.
For more about Scanners II and the Scanners II Blu-ray release, see Scanners II Blu-ray Review published by Jeffrey Kauffman on September 10, 2013 where this Blu-ray release scored 2.5 out of 5.
Starring: David Hewlett, Deborah Raffin, Yvan Ponton, Isabelle Mejias, Tom Butler, Raoul Trujillo
Director: Christian Duguay
» See full cast & crew
Scanners II Blu-ray Review
Reviewed by Jeffrey Kauffman, September 10, 2013
Note: This film is currently available only in the double feature Scanners II: The New Order / Scanners III: The Takeover.
David Cronenberg wasn't quite yet "David Cronenberg" when he made the original Scanners in 1981 (currently available on Blu-ray only on a number of import releases, including this United Kingdom version, a German version, and this Japanese version). But Scanners was the first major mainstream success Cronenberg experienced, and it introduced many viewers to the deliberately skewed and often disturbing vision of this future auteur. My hunch is that this early in Cronenberg's career, he simply didn't have the clout to effectively control his own creation, and so some decidedly un-Cronenbergian talents came along to offer two unrelated (either to the original or frankly to each other) sequels. Neither film has Cronenberg's sensibility, nor the flash and flair that Cronenberg regularly brings to his projects. Scanners II: The New Order is marginally better than Scanners III: The Takeover (which also had the alternate title of Scanner Force), but its an incremental difference at best. Still, as with virtually every horror film that has appeared since the dawn of time, both of these films have attained a certain cult status with some viewers, and Scream Factory has now released both of them on a double feature Blu-ray, a bare bones release that contains no supplements or even any menu choices other than the option of which film to play.
Scanners II starts out rather promisingly with a noisy, frenetic sequence set in a game arcade where a manic looking man named Drak (Raoul Trujillo) stumbles through the crowded room, seemingly listening to voices only he can hear. He offends several of the people in the arcade by either bumping into them or, in one case, just up and taking a token right out from underneath a player so that he can use it himself to start a shooter game. Soon Drak, who obviously is a Scanner under a great deal of mental pressure, takes control of the game without touching it, setting off a huge melée which includes exploding games and lots of panicked people running hither and yon. Later, Drak is found in an abandoned warehouse where he's having some extremely demented "conversations" with a bunch of department store mannequins he has assembled for some hidden purpose. While this may not exactly be "Cronenberg weird" (if I may be permitted to coin a phrase), it's at least passably bizarre and seems to indicate perhaps Scanners II won't be a total waste of time.
Drak is ultimately captured and delivered to a supposed neurological institute run by Dr. Morse (Tom Butler), a scientist ostensibly "interested" in the Scanners, but who has instead created a gaggle of addicts due to a calming drug with which he keeps the telepaths under control. Morse has an ally in a local cop named Forrester (Yvan Ponton), an initially seemingly well intentioned guy who feels that the Scanners' innate abilities could be an effective investigatory or crime suppression tool.
It's only at this point that the film's putative hero, veterinary student (stop laughing) David Kellum (David Hewlett) enters the picture. David, like many Scanners, seems to be really sensitive to lots of noise and he starts to freak out, if only slightly, during a somewhat noisy demonstration of an operation at the vet school. David finds some comfort in the arms of fellow student Alice (Isabelle Mejias), and just know that David is a good Scanner because he wants to save an adorable little puppy that is at the vets for testing purposes and which will probably be put down after those tests have been completed.
A rather late plot point attempts to knit Scanners II: The New Order to Cronenberg's original opus, and that's when Deborah Raffin appears as Julie Vale (that surname should be something of a giveaway for those familiar with the first outing). In one of those too convenient coincidences that too often tend to propel less than stellar sequels, David and Julie have a previously unknown connection and must work together to prevent what turns out to be a couple of threats from some disparate characters.
Scanners II pretty much jettisons any hint of mood or ambience for what is in essence a flat out live action cartoon, where loosely knit together plot points at least get the viewer to what is really important, namely those iconic shots of heads exploding. The special effects are actually rather well done in Scanners II and may in fact provide the best (the only?) reason for sitting through this often tedious drivel. Scanners II is, however, (exploding) head and shoulders above the next entry in the supposed Scanners triptych, Scanners III: The Takeover .
Scanners II Blu-ray, Video Quality
Scanners II: The New Order is presented on Blu-ray courtesy of Scream Factory (an imprint of Shout! Factory) with an AVC encoded 1080p transfer in 1.78:1. The elements utilized for this high definition presentation are in rather good shape, with very little overt damage to report. However, the overall look here is very soft, and colors are often fairly anemic. Fine detail really only approaches acceptable levels in some extreme close-ups. Contrast is rather variable and there is a lack of pleasing shadow detail, especially noticeable since so much of the film takes place in shaded environments. There are a couple of minor issues of mosquito noise, but nothing like what's on display in Scanners III: The Takeover.
Scanners II Blu-ray, Audio Quality
Scanners II: The New Order's lossless DTS-HD Master Audio 2.0 mix boasts really good fidelity but no overly discernable stereo separation. The film is graced by some great ooey gooey sound effects when heads up and explode, and the score, while dated, also sounds fine. Dialogue comes through loud and clear and is well prioritized in a mix that often has quite a few foley effects competing for attention.
Scanners II Blu-ray, Special Features and Extras
No supplements are offered on this Blu-ray disc.
Scanners II Blu-ray, Overall Score and Recommendation
Scanners II: The New Order has a few moments of lunatic fun scattered throughout its running time, but overall it's a pretty tired and over obvious attempt to cash in on the Cronenberg progenitor. Trujillo is a real standout here as the manic Drak, but the rest of the cast tends to look like their heads are about to explode due to the horrible dialogue and predictable plot machinations.
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