When Gremlins came out in 1984, its brand of comedy and terror helped traumatise a generation. With likeable characters, relatable situations, and hilarious antics of murderous troll-like creatures in the community of Kingston Falls of In 1990, the small-town kid, and the small-town Mogwai got a taste of the big city, as a fresh batch of Gremlins took on Manhattan, in Gremlins 2: The New Batch.
Six years after the events of the first movie, Billy has a soulless job at Clamp Center, a luxurious high-rise owned by billionaire Daniel Clamp. He is reunited with Gizmo, who Clamp was planning to experiment on. As Billy is dealing with his life and relationship with childhood sweetheart Kate, Gizmo breaks the two rules of being a Mogwai; getting wet from a drink’s fountain, once again creating clones of Gizmo; and letting those clones eat after midnight. Converting them into Gremlins, ready to cause the same havoc they did so many years ago.
You can tell that you’re in for something interesting when instead of the feature film you’ve got a Cartoon at the start, a Looney Tunes one to be precise. The film fully subverts expectations and conventions of cinema by having fake-outs, cameos, the fourth wall isn’t broken so much as pulverised. The Fans complaints about the “ambiguity” of the rules are playfully pointed out in the sequel. While there’s no depressing tale of death at Christmas, the satirical spear has been sharpened by the success of the first film and its comedy still pierces.
A lot of the original cast and crew return, such as Zach Galligan and Phoebe Cates, also their neighbour, played once again by Dante veteran Dick Miller is here too. But newcomers like soon to be Batman and Robin support actor, John Glover, playing eccentric billionaire Daniel Clamp. Star Trek’s Robert Picardo as the chief of security and the variety of inventive Gremlins do steal the show here. Their new leader is a sophisticated Brain Gremlin, played by Tony Randall, who manages to speak eloquently and break into show tunes, a self-explanatory Electricity Gremlin who is pure power. There’s even a Bat-Gremlin, impervious to sunlight unlike its kin, presenting a new and, in some case improved arsenal for mayhem. As such, the action and antics are zanier than in the first film, but the charm persists.
With its more rampant focus on satirising American culture and giving fans of the previous film, a second go-around with the murderous Gremlins. I suppose you can describe this film as Gremlins meets Robocop, as it firmly in the mix of Robocop’s biting satire, and Gremlins anarchic cartoon violence. There’s a lot to like here, especially if you liked the first film and want something different from those chaotic critters. With six years to reflect and improve, the next batch of Gremlins is as tasty and enjoyable as the last.
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