Speed 2: Cruise Control and Sphere (review)

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Watered Down

I’ve said it here before (I think), but it bears repeating: The biggest sin a movie can commit is to be boring. Truly awful movies, like Con Air or Lost in Space, I can at least enjoying making fun of. But when faced with duds like Speed 2: Cruise Control and Sphere, the heart just goes right out of it for me. Their inane scripts aren’t atrocious, just flat. There are no really rotten performances to ridicule. Their FX aren’t cheesy but aren’t cutting edge. The movies are kinda just… there.

Waves of seasickness
Annie’s back. Nice, nonthreateningly sexy Annie (Sandra Bullock) — a sort of everywoman in a crisis. Men don’t need to fear her, because she isn’t too competent — she’s a terrible driver, for example. Isn’t that cute?

Speed 2: Cruise Control puts Annie on a Caribbean cruise with her new boyfriend, SWAT cop Alex (Jason Patric), who’s so brave and heroic and perfect that I just wanted to puke. Naturally, there’s a terrorist, John Geiger (Willem Dafoe) on board, twirling his metaphorical mustache and planning nasty deeds. Personally, as a survivor of a short weekend cruise-to-nowhere, I think a mad bomber is just the kind of excitement most cruises could use. But I’m weird that way.

You don’t need to see the flick to know the story: Bad guy plants bombs, a bunch of characters we could never possibly care about run around and scream, perfect Alex and girly Annie save the day, some things blow up real good, and so on. And never fear: Speed 2 does offer all the standard boring-movie clichés: Small children and adorable dogs will be put in harm’s way only to be saved at the last moment. The bad guy will perform an extended rant, fully explaining his dumb motives in minute detail. And in order to save you stress and worry, there will be no moments of suspense to might make your heart race.

A sampling of the silly dialogue:

Alex to Geiger at the climax: “It ends here.”

Young bimbo wailing, clinging to her dumb husband: “How could this happen on our honeymoon?”

There went two hours of my life that I shall never see again.

Unda da sea
Sphere held slightly more promise for me, at the outset. I’m a big ol’ science fiction geek, after all — anything SF offers more possibilities, more latitude in the plot and characters. One has somewhat limited expectations, plotwise, from a Speed 2, for example — it was unlikely that the terrorist would turn out to be a Mars separatist, for example, or an alien ambassador with some weird diplomatic skills.


I’ve seen Alien, and I’ve seen The Abyss — hence, I had already seen Sphere. A group of scientists head down to the ocean floor, where a spaceship crashed in the 18th century — aboard is an alien artifact. We know it’s alien, because it acts weird. Why does it act weird? Because it’s alien. Duh.

A storm forces the surface team to cut loose the ocean-floor habitat containing Our Heroes, and then one by one they start kicking the bucket. Something to do with the alien artifact. Blah blah blah. You’ve seen this all before. And once again, the moral of the story is: Humans bad. We Are Not Ready for whatever it is the aliens want to offer us.

Psychological mumbo jumbo replaces characterization here, and it’s only A-list actors (Dustin Hoffman, Sharon Stone, Samuel L. Jackson) that make this anything more than a USA Networks movie.

The best part of the flick was a cameo by my main man, Huey Lewis, whom I had the pleasure of meeting once. He’s the helicopter pilot right at the very beginning of the flick. Hit the stop button after that one little scene, and you’ll be all the better for it.

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