April 25, 2009

DVD Review: Into the Blue 2 - The Reef

Tell me again who was looking for an Into the Blue sequel? What was that? I can't quite hear you. Little louder. Just a bit louder. Sorry, I still can't hear you. All right, that I heard loud and clear. No one. No one was looking forward to this movie; yet here it is. Into the Blue 2: The Reef, ready to take us out on the water in search of treasure and filled with thrills. In other words, it is a release that is sure to disappear on the racks, swallowed by other direct-to-video releases, not to mention the latest blockbusters. It sort of begs the question of why I would bother with it. That answer ties back to the original 2005 film, which I found surprisingly entertaining, not particularly good, but well worth my time.

The original film was gorgeously shot and had a nice balance of Caribbean travelogue feature and thriller movie. It had a decent cast, including Paul Walker, Jessica Alba, Scott Caan, Ashley Scott, and Josh Brolin. It was a movie that was not so much about the story as it was about looking slick. To that end, the movie was surprisingly effective and featured a good deal of lovely ladies in bikinis, if you like that sort of thing.

Now, jump to the present day, shift locations from the Caribbean to Hawaii, leave the entire cast of the original behind, populate the cast with television actors on break and you are all set for another adventure on the high seas.

As The Reef opens, a boat is being pursued, and rather than be caught with their merchandise, they dump it overboard, where it lands on the reef (so, that's how they got the title). Shortly thereafter, we see the boatmen meeting with their employer, who is none too pleased that his merchandise was tossed overboard. You have to know that nothing good rests in those containers and that they will be at the center of the drama that is to come.

With this initial set up out of the way, it is time to start meeting our main characters. Sebastion (Chris Carmack, The OC, Butterfly Effect: Revelation) runs a dive shop along with his girlfriend Dani (Laura Vandervoot, Smallville). They are a happy couple with big dreams for the future, then fate walks through the door. Fate comes in the form of the smarmy Australian Carlton (David Anders, Heroes, Alias) and his slightly menacing girlfriend Azra (Marsha Thomason, Lost, Las Vegas). They come in with the request of diving along the reef, but actually want to get those dumped containers, and are willing to pay for it.

Meanwhile, we also have Eric (Kamakani De Dely) and Kelsey (Audrina Patridge), the troubled couple that is obviously in love due to their constant bickering followed by their unrestrained make-ups. They do not have much to do throughout the film. I am assuming they were there to assist in the character development, which is pretty much non-existent.

The first half of the movie slogs along as we go diving a few times and follow our intrepid band on such treacherous adventures as navigating a crowded beach while playing volleyball, lounging in the evening over specially prepared meals, and hitting the clubs with the dangers of dance music and spontaneous wet t-shirt contests. This is what passes for development in this movie.

I would tell you about the plot, but I pretty much fell into a coma by the time they started telling you anything. There was something about Spanish treasure, a little bit about the war and valuable items from Iraq, all followed by a little shooting, a little running, a happy ending, and then the credits.

I do not know what to tell you. This movie is such the non-entity. Watching it is like watching nothing at all. Sure, there are some nice ladies in bikinis, some pretty underwater photography, but it is so dull. I really did not care, I am not sure I should care. Yes, I have seen worse and this is not worth the hyperbole of "worst movie ever" or some such subjective nonsense. Let me just say that you would be better served not bothering with this one, but you could do much worse.

Audio/Video. This pre-release screener is pretty hideous to watch. Video is watermarked and suffers from much digital noise, particularly early on. Audio is not much better, the dialogue is very low an feels as it was just laid on top of the rest of the soundtrack. I can only hope the production version looks markedly better than this, otherwise, the quality of the movie will be a non-issue, you just won't want to watch such a poor looking disk.

Extras. There is a very underwhelming selection of extras. There are two brief, fluffy pieces covering the underwater shooting and scuba diving, and the land/running action. There is also a 90 second music clip set to beach/bikini scenes. The extras are rounded out by a couple of other direct-to-video trailers.

Bottomline. Overall, this is a rather underwhelming release. The film is nothing all that special and the package is not helping matters. You would be better off re-watching (or watching for the first time) the original, or event that Matthew McConaughey treasure film from a year or so back.

Not Recommended.


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