Blu-ray Review: Scanners II: The New Order (1991)

Scanners II BR CoverDistributor: Second Sight Films

BBFC Classification: 18

Director: Christian Duguay

Starring: David Hewlett, Deborah Raffin, Yvan Ponton, Raoul Trujillo, Tom Butler

The only trouble with making a film that is as well regarded as Scanners is that sooner or later somebody will want a sequel and, as we all know, sequels by their very nature are never as inventive or as groundbreaking as the original. And the trouble that Scanners II: The New Order faced from the off is that it is a sequel to a David Cronenberg film that Cronenberg himself isn’t involved with, so there’s more than just an exploding head effect to live up to.

The film begins with a lone vagrant named Peter Drak (Raoul Trujillo – Riddick) causing chaos in an amusement arcade as he uses his telekinetic powers to play and then eventually destroy one of the games, getting himself arrested in the process. Switch to veterinarian student David Kellum (David Hewlett – Pin), who is having a hard time trying to concentrate on his chosen course. David is also a scanner and one day he witnesses an armed robbery whilst out with his girlfriend Alice (Isabelle Mejias), and, unsure of the extent of his powers, he kills one of the robbers using his scanning abilities. As he didn’t actually touch the robber he doesn’t face any charges but he does attract the attention of John Forrester (Yvan Ponton), a police commander who is only too aware of the scanners and what they can do.

Forrester enlists David under the pretence of helping him catch criminals by reading their thoughts but very soon David discovers that Forrester’s intentions aren’t entirely honourable as Forrester forces him to control the mayor’s thoughts and have her declare Forrester the new Chief of Police, even though she had planned to give the post to somebody else. Now onto Forrester and his ultimate aim, David tries to quit and leaves for his parents isolated farm but Forrester sends Drak after him, although whilst at the farm David learns a thing or two about his past that changes everything.

And as for what they are, you’ll just have to watch the film. Directed by Christian Duguay and made a decade after Cronenberg’s original film, Scanners II: The New Order is actually set about twenty years after the first film, although the dystopian feel of that film is missing and the timeline isn’t helped by the fashions and David Hewlett’s mullet.

And that mullet gets a lot of screen time as Hewlett is very much the central point of the story. Unfortunately, despite being marginally more watchable that Stephen Lack from the first film, he isn’t that much of a leading man. He gives enough that when we learn of David’s past and the events that follow his discovery he gains our sympathies but he never gives anything more than what was probably written on the page. In a similar way, Yvon Ponton is equally uncharismatic as John Forrester; not a terrible performance but simply reading his lines and doing enough to help the story along without going that extra little bit to make his character interesting.

The one member of the cast who does put on something of a performance is Raoul Trujillo as Drak, being both brutal and arch at the same time. The moments he appears on the screen the film seems to step up a gear and give you a villain you can get excited about seeing, although it must be said that Michael Ironside he is not – neither is anybody else, for that matter – and that is the main drawback with the film.

There are some decent action sequences peppered throughout the film, although in true sequel fashion the makers took the centrepiece gore effect of the first film and exploited it to the point of exhaustion. Not that exploding heads don’t look good – this was ten years later and special effects had come a long way – but by overdoing it the shock factor just wasn’t there. Still, with the exception of Frank Henelotter and Sam Raimi, there weren’t that many filmmakers doing the exploding heads thing at the time so there was still something of a novelty factor about it.

Overall, Scanners II: The New Order is a passable film that touches all the bases and is adequate enough but it all just feels a little flat and uninspiring. Granted, Scanners itself wasn’t a bona fide classic but there was a well of untapped ideas in there that, in the right hands and with the right cast, could have brought forth a sequel that stepped out of the shadow of its source material. The disc itself is a bare bones affair that offers up only a nicely cleaned up picture that makes it all look fairly polished and slick, but aside from the decent special effects, unless you’re a fan of the first film or a completist then Scanners II may not have much in the way of major or lasting appeal.

Scanners II

Special Features: None

UK Release Date: 8th April 2013

Second Sight Films – Website

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