Saturday, February 17, 2018

Gremlins 2: The New Batch (1990)

There’s talk of a third Gremlins movie.  There was some debate as to whether it would be a sequel or a reboot.  However, it doesn’t seem to make a difference in some cases.  Sequels are kind of like reboots with a history.   Case in point is Gremlins 2: The New Batch.  It has the same basic plot of a cute mogwai producing more mogwai, which eventually turn in to the titular little monsters.

Billy Peltzer and Kate Beringer from the original movie have moved from Kingston Falls to New York City.  They have jobs in Clamp Tower, working for Daniel Clamp.  Visiting them in the big city are Murray and Sheila Futterman.  Murray still remembers the events of the first movie.

For those that don’t, Billy’s father got a mogwai from a store in Chinatown, which Billy named Gizmo.  There are three rules for a mogwai:  Don‘t expose them to light, especially not sunlight; don’t get them wet; don’t feed them after midnight.  Once again, the rules are broken, although not necessarily in that order.

Daniel Clamp is trying to buy out the same store that Gizmo went back to at the end of the first movie.  After the owner’s death, Mr. Clamp is able to buy and demolish the building to make way for his new project.  Gizmo escapes, only to be captured by someone who works in the Clamp Building.  Gizmo is take to a genetics lab, ostensibly to be experimented on.

Through a coincidence, Billy realizes where Gizmo is and rescues the little guy.  Much of the rest of the movie is similar to the first.  Three new mogwai are formed and immediately torture Gizmo.  They become Gremlins, who make a lot more gremlins, who then terrorize the building’s occupants.  In this sense, the sequel seems like a rehash of the first movie, although it’s not as blatant as I would have expected in a sequel.

There are some new elements, like the gremlins getting into the genetics labs and getting new attributes like wings or a more-developed brain.  There are also a few in-jokes and self-referential humor, like Leonard Maltin briefly reviewing the first movie.  If you haven’t seen Gremlins, some things might seem confusing or go over your head.  Strictly speaking, it’s not entirely necessary, but I would recommend it.

The New Batch also seems to rely more on CGI than on puppets.  The CGI is almost seamless, but is a little obvious in a few places.  I’d say that the puppetry in the first movie could be more distracting than the CGI in this one.  Even the puppetry is better.  It’s actually better than what I’d expect of a movie from 1990.

I’m kind of curious to see what they’d do with a Gremlins 3, especially considering that almost 30 years have passed since Gremlins 2 was released.  It could be that the responsibility of Gizmo is handed off to a new generation with Billy and Kate taking on a parental/Mr. Wing role or that the main characters would be recast or replaced.  (I would hope for the former rather than the latter.)

I am curious as to where Gizmo came from.  I don’t think this was directly addressed in either movie.  One would think that there are more Mogwai, even if they’re not all like Gizmo.  Someone once said that it’s hard to imagine hamsters running around in the wild.  Similarly, it’s hard to imagine wild mogwai/gremlins.  The reason I thought of this is that if Gizmo ever ate after midnight, would that necessarily be the end of mogwaikind?  No one ever seems to be worried about this.

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