Descent, The: Part 2 (Blu-ray) (2009)

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Released 3-Aug-2010

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Details At A Glance

General Extras
Category Horror None
Rating Rated MA
Year Of Production 2009
Running Time 93:40
RSDL / Flipper No/No Cast & Crew
Start Up Ads Then Menu
Region Coding 4 Directed By Jon Harris
Studio
Distributor
Pathe Films
Icon Entertainment
Starring Michael J. Reynolds
Shauna Macdonald
Jessika Williams
Douglas Hodge
Joshua Dallas
Anna Skellern
Gavan O'Herlihy
Krysten Cummings
Doug Ballard
Case Amaray Variant
RPI $49.95 Music David Julyan


Video Audio
Pan & Scan/Full Frame None English Dolby TrueHD 5.1
English DTS HD Master Audio 5.1
Widescreen Aspect Ratio 2.35:1
16x9 Enhancement
16x9 Enhanced
Video Format 1080p
Original Aspect Ratio 2.35:1 Miscellaneous
Jacket Pictures No
Subtitles English Smoking No
Annoying Product Placement No
Action In or After Credits No

NOTE: The Profanity Filter is ON. Turn it off here.

Plot Synopsis

     If ever there was a movie that did not need a sequel, let alone a direct continuation (as is implied by the use of "Part 2" in the title rather than simply a "2"), it is The Descent. Aside from all the fawning platitudes that there could be, deservedly, lavished upon the film (it is by far the best horror film to hit screens in the last decade, possibly two) and wild-eyed claims that a sequel could never live up to the original, that film came to a rather definite resolve that didn't leave room for continuation of the original story. At least, that was the case in most countries this British gem was released in, including Australia. Alas, in a painfully clichéd fashion most unfitting to the general freshness of the film, the US version was given an alternate, much less grim, ending that left the sequel door wide open. And here comes that unwarranted sequel. And, though not a patch on the original, it is actually surprisingly good. Though evidently not good enough to overcome the stigma of being an unnecessary sequel in the eyes of the British public, where commercially it flopped badly enough to prevent its theatrical release in most other territories. Ironically one of those territories where it found its way straight to DVD is the very territory whose alternate ending the film follows on from.

     Probably best to stop reading here if you've not seen the original and don't want one of its possible conclusions semi-spoilt for you.. Suffice to say there are more people down in caves getting hunted by carnivorous hominid creatures.

     Continuing straight on from where that US ending ended, one survivor has made it out alive from a terrifying ordeal in a cave system in the Alpachian mountains and is rather catatonic, barely responding to anything and remembering nothing about the last few days. That lass was not the lone American on the trip; it turns out another is the daughter of the local mayor. Unsurprisingly the local sheriff is under a lot of pressure to find the mayor's daughter and that leads the rather stereotyped grumpy hick sheriff to drag the survivor back down into the caves, accompanied by a deputy and three rescue workers (one of whom CNNNN viewers will recognise as the lovely Anna Skellern!) Chaos ensues. People get hunted down by the same critters as in the original (albeit looking a bit more demonic this time around). Plenty of scares are had and some rather ridiculous plot turns sustain another 90 minutes underground.

     The Descent: Part 2 is the directorial debut of British genre films' go-to editor Jon Harris. Whilst he fails to bring the strong character development that Neil Marshall brought to the original, Harris does an excellent job of building atmosphere and tension, along with a few squishy creature effects that give a nod to George Romero and Tom Savini. The story offers nothing new, more or less aping the original, although it is still an entertaining piece. Like the original, the film is beautifully shot.

     Fans of the original are quite likely to enjoy The Descent: Part 2 provided they are willing to overlook its superfluousness and just go for the ride. The uninitiated would do better to start at the beginning.

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Transfer Quality

Video

     The film is presented in its original 2.35:1 aspect ratio in 1080p. The video is of excellent quality. The image is sharp and clear. There is an excellent level of shadow detail visible at all times and plenty of fine detail in deep blacks.

     The colour palette is quite natural and looks excellent in regularly presented scenes as well as a few that are presented in night vision. There is no sign of compression artefacts or film artefacts in the transfer

     English subtitles are available and they appear to be accurate to the spoken word and well timed.

Video Ratings Summary
Sharpness
Shadow Detail
Colour
Grain/Pixelization
Film-To-Video Artefacts
Film Artefacts
Overall

Audio

     The film features English Dolby Digital TrueHD 5.1 and DTS HD Master Audio 5.1 tracks. The audio is of a high standard. Both tracks feature a wide dynamic range and are crystal clear.

     The orchestral score, by David Julyan, recalls that of the original (in fact I'd not be surprised if it had been lifted wholesale from the original, particularly given that the same composer is credited). It is a great score, but you have heard it before.

     The surrounds are used well throughout, creating a tense atmosphere that brings viewers underground with the film. The subwoofer use is excellent, particularly as it rumbles throughout rock falls.

Audio Ratings Summary
Dialogue
Audio Sync
Clicks/Pops/Dropouts
Surround Channel Use
Subwoofer
Overall

Extras

    There are no extras on the disc. Not even a token chapter selection screen on the bland static menu, which itself only pops up when specifically requested and at the end of the feature.

     Worse yet, the disc opens to an unskippable anti-piracy clip - yes, that one that paying customers have seen a million times and pirates gleefully avoid -and a handful of SD trailers for other films which can be skipped.

R4 vs R1

NOTE: To view non-R4 releases, your equipment needs to be multi-zone compatible and usually also NTSC compatible.

     The choice of international Blu-ray versions is the UK Region B edition, which features:

Summary

     An unwarranted, but surprisingly enjoyable and undeniably well-made sequel to a modern classic. Well worth a look for horror fans - but watch the original first!

     The audio and video are excellent, however it is hard to recommend the local edition when a far more fully featured edition is available in the UK.

Ratings (out of 5)

Video
Audio
Extras
Plot
Overall

© Adam Gould (Totally Biolicious!)
Saturday, August 14, 2010
Review Equipment
DVDSony Playstation 3, using HDMI output
DisplayOptoma HD20 Projector. Calibrated with THX Optimizer. This display device is 16x9 capable. This display device has a maximum native resolution of 1080p.
Audio DecoderPioneer VSX2016AVS. Calibrated with Video Essentials/Digital Video Essentials.
AmplificationPioneer VSX2016AVS
Speakers150W DTX front speakers, 100W centre and 4 surround/rear speakers, 12 inch PSB Image 6i powered sub

Other Reviews NONE
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