...tried to catch a screening of this movie yesterday.
Dutifully, and quite illogically, I even tried to make my way through the worst storm I’d seen in some time to do so; took an hour and a half for me to travel a distance usually traversed in roughly twenty minutes (because of snarled traffic, roads closed due to flooding, etc.)
At a major intersection, a dazzling, heavenly blue/white light engulfed me for the briefest second. It could have been a nuclear flash, but it was soundless…and it didn’t blind. The stoplights at the intersection went dark. Cars slammed on their brakes, the sounds of screeching tires pierced through pounding rain. Streetlights and store signs surged radiantly for as far as they eye could see, before fading out completely...layer after layer…like the blackouts in CLOSE ENCOUNTERS OF THE THIRD KIND.
Around this time, I figured God, or the universe, was trying to prevent me from seeing BASIC INSTINCT 2. Although, I was probably just rationalizing, somewhat desperately, my decision to bail on a screening for which I had no enthusiasm whatsoever. Looks like no one/nothing up there was watching out for poor Massawyrm…nothing/no one turned him back.
He made it to the screening; safely. Courageously.
And here is his report…
Hola all. Massawyrm here. Where the fuck is Joe Eszterhas when you need him? No seriously. Where the fuck is he? I mean, clearly we live in a world where someone was willing to dump buckets of money into a remake - ahem, sorry - sequel to the 1992 Verhoeven sleazefest classic Basic Instinct – one might imagine that they might go back to the source and squeeze one last epically debaucherous ride out of him. But no. Eszterhas may have become synonymous with the worst of the worst when it comes to screenwriting, but you gotta give it to the guy: he was the king of sleaze. His movies weren’t just bad. They were fucking epics of jaw-dropping magnitude. Flashdance, Basic Instinct, Sliver, Jade. Hedonistic, misogynistic, seedy pieces of trash one and all. And every single one of them was a step closer to his opus, his masterstroke, his monument to female degradation – mother fucking Showgirls. Yeah, now you’re with me.
When MGM released their super slutty, heavily unrated psudo-trailer on the net a few months back, word on this project began to change. All of a sudden the jokes about how bad it could be was readily replaced by talk of excitement about just how over the top and, once again, sleazy this was going to be. Curiosity began to stir and many of us waited with baited breath, wondering aloud: was this going to be another Showgirls, another trip into a hypnotically unbelievable sex romp with a budget?
In a word - no. As it turns out, that trailer MGM dropped on us was complete, utter horseshit – a farce of such unrelenting chutzpah that I can’t even begin to explain. But I’ll try, by god I’ll try.
Whether we like it or not, Basic Instinct is a classic and easily somewhere in the top 10 of most influential films of the 90’s. It single handedly legitimized softcore, and along with The Hand that Rocks the Cradle and Single White Female became the standard by which every single femme fatale ‘erotic thriller’ of the era was either compared or plagiarized. While I won’t even begin to argue that these films are good, they opened up a whole market of ‘adult’ filmmaking that allowed men to watch nudie movies while systematically claiming to be watching real films. Hell, late night Skinimax is nothing BUT Basic Instinct whackfest knockoffs – and Blockbuster Video made a very lucrative industry out of forbidding NC-17 films in their stores, while producing through subsidiaries their own ‘thriller’ softcore that had the benefit of being ‘unrated’ not ‘NC-17’. Would we even know who Shannon Tweed is if not for her endless stream of Basic Instinct clones?
So if you’re going to make a sequel to something that defined an entire genre, you’ve gotta do it right. It’s gotta be sexier, filthier, bloodier and quite simply, downright unwholesome. And that’s certainly what they’re selling in the internet ‘trailer’ and the countless Sharon Stone interviews meant to drum up controversy (the woman who a decade and a half ago publicly threw a fit about the infamous bush scene is now advocating oral sex for minors on talk shows and discussing how much she loves sex.) But that ain’t actually what they’re selling. You see, if you’ve seen the internet ‘trailer’, then you’ve actually seen 75% more sex than is actually in the film. Virtually every frame of sex and nudity that appears in Basic Instinct 2, you’ve already seen. Let that sink in for a moment. I’ll wait.
Yes, there are exactly three sex scenes in this movie. One with a single nipple and some bobbing man ass. Another with a single nipple and some bobbing man ass. And a third, with two exposed nipples, and yes, dare I say it, more bobbing man ass. That semi hot looking threesome in the ‘trailer’? Never actually appears in the film - the third person in that three-way…never actually appears in the film. And outside of the sex, there is one, single, gratuitous nude scene. Of Sharon Stone. All told, there is perhaps 20-30 seconds of actual sexual content in this film. So it never actually achieves any level of ‘trashy’ that someone might be seeing this for. Oh, sure, it trrrrriiiiiiiieeeesss to be sexy, complete with a tracking down the legs shot that worked great 15 years ago, but now follows a trail of freckles and liver spots that feels more akin to walking in on your aunt Mildred getting out of the shower than it does watching Basic Instinct, causing your balls to slowly creep back into your abdomen. Okay, yes, 40+ women can be sexy. But there are magazines for that kind of thing, and there’s a reason porn shops keep them on the back shelves of the racks – because they are reserved for ‘special’ kinds of men. If liver spots speak ‘experience’ to you, then the gratuitous shots of a braless Sharon Stone wearing a nigh see-through blouse with her under-the knife perkiness peeking out might bring you to half mast. Otherwise, the film isn’t sexy at all, but rather just seems kind of sad.
What’s left is a miserable train wreck of a thriller groaning under the weight of dialog so bad it becomes epic in it’s own right. You see, while this film isn’t epic in the same fashion as an Eszterhas thriller, it easily, without hyperbole, becomes a top entry into the ‘worst sequel to a blockbuster film of all time’ list. It makes Godfather 3 and Episode I look like gargantuan successes, and manages to make Speed 2 and Jaws: The Revenge seem watchable by comparison. Seriously, this movie is just…that…bad.
Allow me to read from the book of BI2 for a moment, to illustrate more effectively the type of trite, overblown dialog that pervades this film. When asked what she writes about (Sharon Stone’s character Catherine Tramell, as you might recall, is quite possibly the worst successful novelist ever set to film – really, the passages she reads aloud in BI2 make us AICNers read like Nobel fucking laureates) Stone's answer is this (quoted verbatim from the film)
The lurid, the violent, the sexual.
The basic instincts.
Oh yeah, baby. They go that far. The entire film is filled with the kind of lame, self-referential bullshit that will either make your asshole pucker tighter than a drum or cause you to laugh out loud uncontrollably. Laid atop one of the weakest, unnecessarily convoluted plots known to man, it achieves brand new levels of ‘WTF were they thinking?’ making this the surefire leader of the pack for the Razzies, easily sweeping in the categories of Worst film, Worst director, Worst Actress, and most notably and ironically, the Joe Eszterhas Dis-honorary award for Worst Screenplay. Normally, I scoff at the Razzies for picking only on mediocre to kind of bad big budget or big star failures – but this is exactly the type of film the Razzies love to roast, and is a failure of such a spectacular level – one that misses absolutely everything that it aims for - that this year they can’t help but be right on the money. Distributing a film that even manages to come close to how bad this is seems pretty much like a mathematical improbability.
But there’s something to be said for a movie this bad. And that is that it’s really, truly, amazingly funny. When it’s not being boring as all fucking hell, that is. It’s filled to the brim with beautiful nuggets of pure gold that any drunken film watcher will split their pants laughing at. But this is only recommended for the most astute and well trained of ‘bad movie watchers.’ This isn’t amateur level bad. This requires someone ready to deal with soul crushing banality for minutes at a time to enjoy the pot of gold at the end of the rainbow. I mean, it’s just plain gawd awful. I would say that the studio behind it should simply be ashamed of themselves for even thinking of letting it show on a single screen – but it’s an MGM film and those people practically wear masks to work out of embarrassment already. For them it’s nothing but another can of film atop a pile of buttfucked properties.
This is the single worst, most unbelievable film I’ve seen on the big screen since Torque. And if given the Sophie’s Choice of sitting in a chair with a gun to my head having to choose between watching one of the two, I’d suffer Torque again. Something about Bike-Fu makes me chuckle. That, and I hope to god to never have to see Aunt Sharon naked again.
Until next time friends, smoke ‘em if ya got ‘em. I know I will.
Click here to request a personalized picture in which I play a game of ‘connect the liver spots’ to create a likeness of your own face.