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‘Red 2’ proves to be a fun summertime sequel

Date: 7/25/2013

By G. Michael Dobbs

I’m watching movies on new and old platforms for this week’s movie review column.

In Theaters: Red 2

I’m always leery of sequels, which are notoriously known for having a hard time living up to the first film in a series and “Red 2” was no exception. The first film “Red,” based on the graphic novel of the same name, was a delight by casting people such as John Malkovich and Helen Mirren in an action film – not their usual cup of tea.

Without the surprise of the casting working so well, would “Red 2” be simply a retread?

The first film was funny and fast moving and I hoped the second one would be as well. I’m happy to say that “Red 2” is a perfect summer movie. It has a few surprises, it moves fast, has great action sequences and is funny. It’s not “Citizen Kane,” but I wouldn’t want it to be.

Former government agent Frank Moses (Bruce Willis) is trying desperately to adjust to retired life, when Marvin (Malkovich) tells him a leaked document on the web implicates the two of them in a hideous plot against the former Soviet Union. They are now on the run for their lives, something Frank’s girlfriend Sarah (Mary-Louise Parker) seems to enjoy far more than their trips to Costco.

Two performances help make the sequel enjoyable – a woman from Frank’s past delightfully over-played by Catherine Zeta-Jones and an insane British scientist portrayed by Anthony Hopkins. Hopkins adds a little dramatic weight to the film, although it appears that he is enjoying himself, as is the rest of the cast.

Sure there are holes in the plot, but who cares? This is a fun ride.

On the web: Battery

I didn’t know a thing about “The Battery,” except it was an ultra low-budget – $6,000 – zombie movie. Since zombie movies are pretty played out in terms of plot and thrills in my book, I was curious.

I’m glad I watched it, as it’s an inventive, well-produced story that is gripping and moving.

Ben (Jeremy Gardner) and Mickey (Adam Cronheim) are a pair of baseball players – that’s the only way they identify themselves – who are trying to survive in post-zombie apocalypse New England. Their strategy is to travel within rural areas, getting supplies from abandoned houses and killing zombies along the way.

While Ben has adapted to this nomadic life style, Mickey hasn’t. He has never killed a zombie and talks about finding someplace safe to live “like a human.”

The two young men represent two reactions to the new world: acceptance and rejection.

A discovery of a pair of walkie-talkies in a house brings forth a revelation: somewhere relatively close by is a settlement of humans. Speaking to them, Mickey is beside himself with the expectation of having a normal life once more. He is crushed when he is told there is no room for the pair.

This is the first feature film for Gardner, who also directed and wrote the film and he is clearly a talent to watch. His performance as the pot-smoking, zombie-killing Ben is excellent and he understands the zombie genre well enough to turn it on its head with this film.

When I interviewed director John Landis several years ago, he was adamant that budget was not a consideration for quality of a film and in many ways neither was the script – how a film is directed makes the difference. Gardner is a talent to watch.

To see “the Battery,” go to iTunes, Amazon Instant Video, YouTube, GooglePlay, VuDu, XBOX, PS3 Playstation Store, Sony Entertainment Network, CinemaNow, Nook, and OnDemand.