Scanners II: The New Order Blu-ray Review
Written by Joel Harley
Blu-ray released by Second Sight Films
Directed by Christian Duguay
Written by B.J Nelson and David Cronenberg (characters)
1991, Region B/2, 105 minutes, Rated 18 (UK)
Blu-ray released on April 8th, 2013
David Hewlett as David Kellum
Deborah Raffin as Julie Vale
Yvan Ponton as Commander John Forrester
Isabelle Mejias as Alice Leonardo
Tom Butler as Doctor Morse
Raoul Trujillo as Peter Drak
Despite it being generally quite respected and even thought of as a minor classic in certain circles, there's only one thing that David Cronenberg's Scanners is really remembered for. Given that I spent most of my review of that film harping on about it, you can safely assume that 'the one thing' of which I speak is the infamous head explosion scene. Without that doozy of a calling card, will anyone remember Scanners II at all?
With David Cronenberg also gone, I wouldn't hold out much hope. His replacement is Christian Duguay, a fellow best known for a straight-to-DVD movie called Screamers (which no-one has actually seen, but has a reasonably memorable cover with a bright orange Peter Weller on it) and is, on the evidence of this sequel, no David Cronenberg. You have to feel for the poor fellow, being tasked with stepping into the massive shoes of one of genre cinema's greatest, most truly original directors. At least Scanners II isn't as infamously awful as The Fly II, though, so at least it has that going for it.
It also has a great opening in its favour too, with a Scanner running amok in an amusement arcade, cheating on the games and terrifying the poor straights. For a moment there, I had hoped that Scanners II would realise my dream of a properly entertaining Scanners-on-the-rampage movie. Alas, this was not to be. Following this amusing opener, Scanners II settles down to be a paranoid, mildly tedious thriller in which warring factions of Scanners battle one another while a dirty politician attempts to take control of the city.
Young veterinarian and Scanner David Kellum discovers the extent of his powers when he relocates from the sleepy countryside to the big city. Aside from all those extra voices vying for attention in his head (not in a schizophrenic kind of way) there's also all that crime to contend with. It doesn't take long for David to kill an armed robber and rise to the attention of the local law enforcement. He's swiftly enlisted by a high-ranking police officer to help track down and capture criminals. But he soon finds himself questioning the motives of his employer, and embroiled in government conspiracy.
The film has a few nifty touches and gory special effects, but it spends most of its time feeling like a needless, dull retread of its own predecessor. Duguay doesn't embarrass himself in the director's chair, but nor does he do enough to justify this sequel. Without that memorable gore gag or the presence of Michael Ironside, it feels boring, slow and unmemorable. The New Order is, apparently, exactly the same as the old one (there's a song by The Who in there somewhere), but less Cronenbergian. You know you've made it as a director when your name becomes an adverb. Sadly I don't think we'll be hearing the term 'Duguayian' anytime soon. Mostly because it sounds stupid.
Scanners II isn't awful – it's just really unmemorable. I've already forgotten most of it already. This Blu-Ray release does it no favours either, with no special features or commentary tracks to justify spending the extra money. Worst of all: there are no head explosions at all. Not so much as a migraine.
Video and Audio:
The Blu-Ray transfer looks and sounds fine, although you wouldn't be missing out on much (save for a slightly emptier wallet) by just picking it up on DVD.
There are no special features on this disc.
*Note: The screenshots on this page are not a reflection of the Blu-ray image.*