Tuesday, April 9, 2013

I thought I'd love The Collection, but I don't.

The Collector was pretty damn good so of course, I was looking forward to the sequel (yes, I still love a good sequel... Terminator 2, The Dark Knight... even if they are rare). Then people started comparing it to Aliens, the greatest sequel of all time in my opinion. I should've known it couldn't live up to that, but the idea of it going in that direction was interesting, and I liked that Arkin was back. The opening was rather excellent despite seeing a lot of it in previews. Even the credit sequence had a great style that reminded me of Seven without blatantly ripping it off, but when the Aliens aspect kicked in, the problems began. I love Cameron's masterpiece, and I was really curious how this movie could be similar. Unfortunately, it's quite obvious, and it's even more obvious they didn't understand why Aliens works so fuckin well. Yes, it has heavily-armed badasses underestimating a foe that will utterly annihilate them, but the characters are what matter. You care about Hicks, Hudson, Vasquez, Drake, Apone, Bishop, Newt, even Gorman! You don't want to see them die. They all have unique personalities, traits, etc. Even their armor was decorated individually by each actor. The Collection forgets to make you care about its characters. The team that asks Arkin to lead them to the masked psychopath is just a bunch of people with guns. Beware there are spoilers from here on out. Even the tough guy who convinces Arkin to go with them has only the barest of development: he always protected the kidnapped girl, and he is loyal to his employer, but you really don't know shit about him. Why is he so loyal? Who the hell is this guy? When they get to the psycho's lair, why didn't he phone the cops just in case something went wrong? Or at least, tell the girl's father where they are so if he fails, all isn't lost. He could've brought more guys too.

I care about Arkin because of the first film, but even he bothered me a bit when he seems so chicken shit to "go back out there." I can't help but be reminded of Ripley. Yes, you knew she was plagued by nightmares, she was deeply afraid, but she was still brave as hell (remember her phone call to Burke? how she stood up to Gorman?), and I think they compromised Arkin a bit to try to underscore how intimidating their villain is. They do fix this later, but by then, it's a little late and seems too abrupt of a switch. I have to say I love the beginning and the end. There are a lot of cool ideas in the middle, but the fact you don't know any of the characters really hurts the film... I actually got a bit bored. More is done with the kidnapped girl, and that's pretty good although her loss of hearing never really pays off at all, and they forget to continue developing her beyond the first few scenes (she becomes the helpless crying victim who must be saved). But what about the ultimate badasses who get butchered? They may as well be faceless mannequins, because they have no defining qualities. There is a bald asshole, a black guy, a freaked-out white guy, and a girl. When they bite it, it means nothing. They are just there to add to the body count and show more gore. It's really a shame and a missed opportunity in that way.

I keep going back to the Aliens comparison. I think it's cool and inventive they tried to take a slasher sequel down that road. They even have a way of adding more "monsters" for one sequence in the bad guy's hideout, but still, I'm disappointed. Ripley hesitated to go with the marines just like Arkin does. Ripley agreed only to be an adviser. Arkin agrees only to take them to the place. Not go inside. Arkin lacks a good motivation for even doing that though. Ripley's life was really ruined by her first experience with the Alien. Besides the horrible nightmares, she couldn't get a good job, she needed psyche evaluations, etc. If she went back out there, the company agreed to reinstate her license. It was a second chance. For Arkin, maybe it was a way to guarantee his family's safety if the lunatic was caught or perhaps it was a way to redeem how he left the girl earlier, but they don't really play any of this up or give any real motivation aside from a general "catch the bad guy and kill him," which they forget to show how much that should matter to Arkin. Then when they're at the killer's place, Arkin has to be forced at gunpoint to go inside. I get that he is different from Ripley. He is a thief, which is part of what made the first film so unique, but I would think he would want revenge on the sick piece of shit that tortured him and threatened to go after his family. Instead Arkin comes off as a coward who is hard to root for. When Ripley goes against Gorman to save the marines, she is a courageous hero. There is a huge difference between these scenes.

They really forgot to include actual characters in The Collection, and that is its biggest flaw. The team that goes in to rescue the girl really needed to be developed more so you care when they die, so there is more tension, etc. Otherwise, it's just watching random faces get hacked up, and after you've seen so many horror movies, that does nothing for you. Still, I wouldn't say it's a complete waste. I love the opening and the ending. The ending is a little strange in that they save so much for those final few moments (and I'm frustrated they still don't reveal someone's identity although maybe that was the best choice to not disappoint the audience even more), but regardless, the last scene was the best part.

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