Review – Deja Vu 2U 2 (“Happy Death Day 2U”)

Boy, that was quick! No sooner than Happy Death Day came out in 2017, then a sequel was announced (due to the huge box office response, of course). This time it’s written by the film’s original director, Christopher Landon, and not Scott Lobdell. And, shockingly, in that rarest of feats, this sequel manages to be as good as the first!
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Harken back to Bayfield College and student Theresa “Tree” Gelbman (Jessica Rothe) who, after experiencing eleven deaths in a time-loop, was able to break the pattern by murdering her psychopathic roommate, Lori (Ruby Modine). She won the love of her life, Carter (Israel Broussard), and all was right with the world. Don’t worry if you didn’t see the first movie, Tree does a re-cap for you. Anyway, we soon learn that Tree’s time-loop wasn’t some cosmic anomaly, but an experiment gone wrong. Y’see, Carter’s sci-nerd roommate, Ryan (Phi Vu), and his sci-nerd pals have been fooling around with Ryan’s thesis project, a machine called the Sisyphus Quantum Cooling Reactor – or ‘Sissy’ for short. The reactor is supposed to slow down time, but it accidentally loops it instead. And THIS time it’s Ryan who’s caught in a time-loop! AND another baby-faced masked killer is after him, too!
 
Being familiar with time-loops, Tree intervenes and helps Ryan find his killer, but that only leads to more problems. Attempting to rectify the situation, Ryan and his crew turn Sissy on, but the situation goes from bad to worse as the time-loop starts all over again, but for TREE! Horrified that she’s right back to square one from the first movie, Tree has to move forward to get Ryan to have Sissy stop all of this. But as Tree goes through all the same ‘ol, same ‘ol as she experienced before, she notices that something’s not right. Ryan is now hooked up with someone else, her psycho roomie is different, and (*gasp*) her mother is still alive!
 
Apparently, as the science team explains, Tree is now in a Back To The Future 2 scenario; she’s caught in a multi-verse alternate timeline! But, dang it, she can’t go back to HER reality unless she fixes THIS reality first. So, she’s gotta repeat the old wake-up/die/reset routine while, in the meantime,  try and figure out who is dressing up in that baby mask and killing people at the hospital. Whew! This is one busy girl! The pace is relentless, funny, and action-packed as Landon doesn’t just rest on his laurels as a writer/director and churn out a less than stellar product. This film is that special gem that you rarely see, a sequel that is as good as the original.
 
Landon gives you not one, but three interconnecting stories that all make sense, while giving you delicious call-backs to the first movie. Meticulous in his crafting this film, Landon splices together a slasher/comedy/rom-com/sci-fi/thriller movie with edge-of-your-seat excitement, tear-jerking scenes, and even some slapstick comedy. Really, I was laughing, choking-up, and biting my nails all in the same movie! The writing is damn good; sharp, clean, and smart with dialogue that isn’t dumbed down for millennials, its obvious demographics.
 
And enough cannot be said about Jessica Rothe as Tree. Aside from her natural beauty and instant charm, she conveys SO much emotion with just an expression, a quivering lip, and a sideways smile, that you can’t help but root for her. She’s the damsel in distress, but only until she’s an axe-wielding wild-child bent on revenge. Why she was never nominated for anything from the first movie is beyond me. Extraordinarily talented, I hope to see more of her in the future. Also terrific is Broussard as Carter, the quintessential boy-next-door. And look for a hilarious Rachel Matthews as house sister Danielle, as she turns in a wonderfully physical comedic role this time around. Do yourself a favor and see this outstanding sequel, you may never see a better one again!

Edge Of Tomorrow (2014)
*

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There are many time-loop movies, but this combines Groundhog Day with Source Code, The Matrix, and Aliens. Tom Cruise is running again and again and again along with Mary Poppins herself, Emily Blunt, in this blockbuster hit that has Cruise a die/live/repeat plot in saving the world.     

It’s five years deep into a Earth vs the Space Aliens war and these creatures (called Mimics) have taken just about all of Europe. These things are huge, black, multi-tentacled octopus/spider looking thingys which are very fast moving and shoot laser bolts. Their masters are the Alphas, bigger blue Mimic’s with a roaring mouth that hold a secret, and finally their hidden leader, the Omega. The aliens are winning the war due do their strength in numbers and the ability to manipulate time travel to their advantage, and something else we don’t know about… yet.

Enter U.S. Major William Cage (Cruise), a pretentious military P.R. rep who’s in England to help with Europe’s war efforts. But after a being labeled a coward by Gen. Brigham (Brendan Gleeson), Cage is quickly thrown into J-Squad; battle-ready soldiers ready to ship out to the blood-soaked beaches of Normandy the next day. Cage is WAY unprepared to be a soldier and is slapped into an exo-skeleton body war-machine to do battle. He meets everyone’s #1 killing soldier & hero:
Rita Vrataski (Blunt), aka, the “Angel of Verdun”, who single-handidly won a victory and earned her the title, “The Full Metal Bitch”. Yeah, she’s that good!

Anyway, Cage is dropped on the beach in the heat of battle and is ambushed by a bunch of Mimics. He’s soon killed by an Alpha Mimic, BUT! Just as Cage kills it, the creature’s blue blood mixes with Cage’s and… POOF! Quicker than you can say “Groundhog Day!”, Cage “wakes up” and starts his life over again when he was introduced to boot camp.
Master Sergeant Farrell Bartolome (Bill Paxton) gives Cage his itinerary… again… and Cage knows this all happened before! He’s thrust back into battle again and is killed again. But he keeps waking up again and again to the same sergeant’s screams of “On your feet, maggot!!” What is going on here? Nothing new happens until he tells Rita, who believes him after Cage saves her life during one of the many repeated battles.

After a “reset”, Cage finds Rita in one of her wild (and very dangerous) training sessions and we find out she, too, was once infected with an Alpha’s blood and had a time-loop adventure of her own, but lost her ability. Cage
learns in a vision where the Omega Mimic is hiding and, in order to permanently end the war, he has continually die, come back, and fight until the Omega is dead and the Mimic’s can’t control time anymore. Sound’s simple, right? It isn’t!

Just how much of this can he take? Cage’s learning curve through hundred’s of deaths, reset’s, and more deaths is taking it’s toll on his mind. Plus, he’s slowly falling for Rita and can’t stand to see HER die every time as well. Not to mention he’s slowly turning from a cowardly desk jockey into one helluva killing machine. Then there’s the problem of those damn Mimic’s. Since they have the science of time-travel down, they already know what’s going to happen. . . or do they?

Based on the Japanese novel (All You Need Is Kill)
by
Hiroshi Sakirazaka, the screenplay was adapted by Christopher McQuarrie, and Jez & John-Henry Butterworth.  Directed by Doug Liman  (Bourne Identity, Jumper) really packs a wallop in the action pieces here, and noticeably gives the audience some humor in Cage’s multiple “death’s”. Cruise is at his best here, at first playing the anti-hero, then stepping up to the plate and taking a major bite of the action pie. Blunt’s character is steeped in war and anger that only occasionally gets to show her humanity, but when she does, it’s riveting. And ya gotta love Bill Paxton for his gruff Sergeant Ferrell and that Southern twang of his; a throwback homage to his Aliens days. Nice. 

Then you got some decent looking aliens that look suspiciously like the multi-tentacled mechanical creatures from The Matrix Revolutions, but more organic and spidery. The Alpha’s are better looking, whereas their leader looks like Jell-0 gone bad. The time-travel plot, which I always have a problem with since no film every really gets it right, is manipulated to make it exactly what it needs to be at that moment. In other words, if you followed the time-travel logic in this film, none of it would make any sense. So, just buy your $37 popcorn and $15 Coca-Cola and suspend your disbelief for two hours and enjoy a decent sci-fi action flick!

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