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Screamers II: The Hunting
cast: Lance Henriksen, Gina Holden, Jana Pallaske, and Greg Bryk

director: Sheldon Wilson

91 minutes (18) 2008
widescreen ratio 16:9
Sony DVD Region 2 retail

RATING: 3/10
reviewed by Jim Steel
Until now films based upon the works of Philip K. Dick have fallen somewhere along a critical line that has 'stunning' at one extreme and 'entertaining' at the other. Screamers (made in 1995, and based on PKD short story Second Variety) was probably one of the weakest, being slow moving and not entirely unpredictable, but Dan O'Bannon's script did at least crank up the tension and it was genuinely scary in parts. Screamers II: The Hunting, however, just falls flat. Nothing is added to the original but much has been forgotten. The fact that there seems to have been no overlap of personnel between the two films on either side of the screen probably explains much. Writers Tom Berry and Miguel Tejada-Flores appear to have picked up the wrong O'Bannon script for a start, and it looks like they have reworked the Alien series in place of Dick's trademarked existential questioning. Parachuting Lance Henriksen in for a cameo only serves to fuel the comparisons as his character is not too dissimilar from Bishop. Curiously, there was a character called Joe Hendricksson (Paul Weller) in the first Screamers film, and his daughter (Gina Holden) turns up in this one, trying to find out why he blew his ship up, as he was approaching Earth, just after the first film ended. Holden's character is called Lieutenant Victoria Bronte, ostensibly so that lots of other characters can ask her why she volunteered for this mission but in reality probably because of a fear of confusing the viewer. Oh, if only we had been offered the luxury of engaging our brains.

Anyway, the pre-credit scenes show some survivors on Sirius 6B (still alive many years after the carnage of the first film) managing to launch a rescue signal. Their numbers are still being eroded by the self-replicating robots of the first film, although most of the ones encountered here are the fast-moving underground mole types and not the fake humans. That there are fake humans in the mix is a given on the part of the viewer, but it is not obvious to the painfully dense characters on screen. Is that an example of wooden acting we see before us, or is that an android killing-machine? Could be both... Anyway, the rescue mission is launched form Earth with eight military types of varying competence. One of them, of course, will try to sneak the alien embryos - sorry - robot blueprints back to Earth. And when they reach Sirius 6B, they find that they only have six days to rescue the survivors before a meteorite storm hits the planet. One has to wonder, with creaky plot devices like this, if the writers have ever encountered any modern science fiction novels. Moving on, the rescuers meet up with the survivors and enter their underground hideout. They pass a couple of kids who are tied to the wall and are begging to be saved from the survivors. The survivors have obviously neglected to tell their rescuers about the variety of robots that can impersonate humans, so the rescuers set the kids free with predictable results. It goes on like this, with idiot plotting resulting in a climax that, quite frankly, defies science.

Mercifully, no extras were found on the preview copy, although the commercial release comes with a second disc.
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