Posted on Friday, November 16th, 2018 by Rob Hunter
(Welcome to DTV Descent, a collection that explores the bizarre and wild world of direct-to-video sequels to theatrically launched films. On this version, we go to the darkish net for a peek behind the digital curtain seeking the sequel to the Sandra Bullock hit The Net!)
Everybody is aware of the interweb is a scary place, however a few of us are sufficiently old to recollect a time when the promise of an internet wealth of data seemed like a great factor. Hollywood was even faster than the actual world in dissuading us of the notion, although, as they rushed to develop and launch cautionary tales about the nightmare heading our method throughout dial-up telephone strains and digital threads. Films like Hackers (1995), Strangeland (1998), and You’ve Obtained Mail (1998) terrified viewers with the prospects, nevertheless it was 1995’s The Net that basically drove the level house.
If our lives are nothing greater than a collection of zeroes and ones, then we’re all only a keystroke away from being erased perpetually. The idea’s much less scary now that I’ve scholar mortgage debt, however in the mid ’90s? Nightmare gasoline. Nicely, in concept. The Net isn’t precisely a very good film, not to mention a basic thriller too valuable for a low-rent straight to DVD follow-up. It’s wonderful.
That’s excellent news for a sequel, although, proper? New filmmakers have much less of a hill to climb in the hopes of matching the unique and solely have to ship a strong, competent thriller. Sadly, we obtained The Net 2.zero (2006) as an alternative.
Angela Bennett (Sandra Bullock) is an internet wizard who works as a contract programmer/debugger/hacker for corporations preventing bugs of their code. She’s one thing of a hermit with relationships that exist virtually solely on-line – pals, enterprise acquaintances, pizza supply joints – and the solely actual exception is a mom who’s at present affected by Alzheimer’s. It’s a lonely life, however it’s the life she selected. She’s pressured into much more social conditions, although, when a glitch she’s requested to debug is revealed to incorporate a backdoor virus that permits entry into in any other case protected techniques. Quickly she’s focused by a group of killers capable of make her life depressing by primarily erasing her on-line id. They promote her home, kill her therapist (it’s okay, he’s performed by Dennis Miller), and provides her a brand new on-line ID that marks her as a needed fugitive. How do you show who you’re when nobody can vouch for you and the computer systems we belief a lot say in any other case?
The DTV Plot
Hope Cassidy is on the run from police in a overseas land, and she or he’s not fairly positive why. The solely factor preserving her going is the reminiscence of her lifeless dad saying in occasions of hassle she solely wants to recollect her identify, as a result of “no matter how bad things get, there’s always Hope.” Thanks Dad! She leaves her naysayer boyfriend behind and involves Istanbul on the promise of a high-paying job working as a methods analyst, however she’s focused earlier than she even lands. Her checking account is emptied, her passport is re-issued with the flawed identify, her Hotmail account is deleted, and when she goes to her first job it’s with a sleazy, Ron Jeremy-looking government excited to point out off his supercomputer secured with an impenetrable safety system based mostly completely on him saying his personal identify. All of that is informed in flashback interspersed with the world’s most unofficial interrogation as she’s being held on suspicion of committing two murders.
She’s telling her story to a psychiatrist (for some purpose) whereas awaiting switch and trial, and she or he walks the lady by means of the entire expertise from realizing she’s been set as much as utilizing her loopy common tech expertise to seek out out who’s doing this to her and why. Individuals begin dying round her, a stewardess provides her a bracelet, the dangerous guys panic over AOL Immediate Messenger, and Hope turns the tables when she steals again the cash they declare she stole. Nicely, no less than till they’re turned once more by double crosses, surprises, and twists! (I’m being beneficiant.)
The unique movie got here comparatively early in Sandra Bullock’s profession, however she had already bust out huge in each motion films (Velocity, 1994) and romantic comedies (Whereas You Have been Sleeping, 1995). Her identify was sufficient to hold the movie previous $100 million at the box-office. The supporting forged is crammed out with loads of acquainted faces together with Jeremy Northam, Diane Baker, Ken Howard, and Ray McKinnon. Director Irwin Winkler was no slouch both having helmed two well-respected dramatic thrillers with Responsible By Suspicion (1991) and Night time and the Metropolis (1992), and whereas writers John Brancato and Michael Ferris couldn’t declare comparable crucial acclaim they have been definitely working screenwriters. They’d discovered success in the horror style earlier than shifting as much as studio style footage with their excessive level being David Fincher’s The Recreation (1997)… and low level being Pitof’s Catwoman (2004).
The on-camera drop in recognized skills is as steep as you’d anticipate right here with Nikki Deloach taking the lead position. She’s a wonderfully okay actor regardless of missing Bullock’s charisma and talent, however in the event you’ve seen greater than three entries in her filmography you’ve acquired extra time to kill than I do. Don’t even hassle scanning the supporting gamers for recognizable performers. Author Rob Cowan is one thing of an odd fowl in that whereas his solely writing credit are this stinker and the short-lived tv collection tailored from the unique, he’s had a profitable producing profession with movies as numerous as The Conjuring (2013), Tammy (2014), and sure, The Net.
The solely actually fascinating identify related to The Net 2.zero is director Charles Winkler. He’s Irwin’s son! Has this ever occurred earlier than? I don’t know! The closest instance I can consider is 2017’s Pork Pie from director Matt Murphy which is a unfastened remake of his father Geoff Murphy’s Goodbye Pork Pie (1981). The comparability ends there, although, as Pork Pie is a terrifically entertaining film that honors its predecessor. The Net 2.zero, against this, feels extra like younger Charles taking a digital shit on his father’s reminiscence. (Irwin continues to be alive as of this writing, however for the functions of my analogy I’m pretending the two are estranged as a result of Irwin informed his untalented son to please discover a new profession as distant from the film enterprise as potential.)
How the Sequel Respects the Unique
The plot is principally the similar in the basic sense full with killers, keystrokes, techno-speak – “[Sigh] Subnet 345…” – and a younger lady preventing towards overwhelming odds.
How the Sequel Shits on the Unique
How does a film made eleven years later function pc graphics that really feel extra dated than its predecessor?! It’s not simply that this film appears, feels, and smells low cost, however its construction means we’re additionally not given any time to satisfy and care about Hope earlier than her id is stolen and the journey begins. Bullock’s Angela is somebody we like and even really feel for earlier than issues go south which means our concern grows as soon as she’s in actual hassle. Hope, although, is a clean and bland web page, and her destiny is of completely no concern to anybody watching.
The senior Winkler’s film a minimum of seems to be like a film – from its forged to its motion to its cinematography – however the similar can’t actually be stated for Winkler the Youthful. You’d be hard-pressed to seek out three straight seconds right here that appear and feel well-made as Winkler Jr. and his staff give all of it the least expensive sheen conceivable. I’m speaking Charlie-level Sheen right here. The digital camera shakes in in any other case static photographs, a fifth of the film is shot at a 45-degree angle, and the modifying is painful to the vision-unchallenged. The modifying is used narratively to start out in media res with Hope in hassle earlier than leaping forwards and backwards to point out how we received there, however it’s additionally a shitshow in any given scene as motion is jumbled, sound results accompany picture shifts, fast flashes transfer us ahead/again, and random we’re plagued repeatedly with freeze frames to spotlight massive “dramatic” beats.
The film’s visually offensive, however the script tries to maintain tempo by means of sheer stupidity. She tells her boyfriend that there are in all probability extra terrorists in his paleontology class in Santa Monica, CA than in the entire of Turkey. An area Turkish lady fixes her dinner whereas in Turkey and says “Hey you hungry? I have Turkish food.” After being framed for a homicide and a theft she comes upon a nasty lady who’s been stabbed — and takes maintain of the knife, pulls it out, after which tells the approaching cops it’s not what it seems to be like. She additionally talks to herself quite a bit which is lazy in the better of film circumstances however wholly obnoxious in flashbacks being advised by the similar individual. “I can’t believe this!” she says to nobody whereas engaged in a automotive chase. “I hope this works. Yes!” Oh, and the boyfriend again in CA who informed her to not go? He’s in on the entire factor for some purpose that by no means makes a lick of sense. He explains the entire scheme whereas they stroll and battle down an extended stairwell, however it’s gibberish.
Most of those DTV sequels are dangerous, and a few are surprisingly okay, however this? That is actively and aggressively horrible. It’s a shoddy mess from starting to finish, and the post-production effort to liven it up by means of a felony overuse of amateurish modifying shenanigans solely to serves to enlarge its awfulness.
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