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Movie Review: A Quiet Place Part II

  • PG-13 1h 37min

by Jason Koenigsberg

It has been a very long road to the big screen for John Krasinski’s A Quiet Place Part II ever since last March when cinemas around the world closed a week before its original release date due to the COVID19 pandemic. Now fourteen and a half months later his sophomore theatrical feature as a writer/director and brief starring role in the sequel to his hit A Quiet Place (2018) has finally premiered in theaters everywhere. Paramount wisely opted not to release this movie prematurely onto streaming services and instead patiently waited until the pandemic died down and life was closer to normal with patrons willing to attend theaters like they did in 2019. This was a wise decision considering that Krasinski’s original A Quiet Place relied heavily on its use of silence and discipline from the viewers not to be distracted by their cell phones to fully embrace the cinematic experience. His delayed sequel had moments of the brilliant intensity that made the original such an immersive theatrical viewing, but did not capture the magic of the first film. I wanted to like this movie a lot more than I actually did.

The opening shot shows an empty downtown area in bright daylight with an American flag clearly visible on the right hand side. In fact there were a lot of American flags and red, white and blue images in this movie, possibly meant to be a reflection of our government being ill prepared to handle an attack of this magnitude, or that our American spirit can pull us through any hardships our society will face depending on how you want to look at it. Remember A Quiet Place II was finished before the pandemic shut the world down last year so it is not a commentary about that. We see John Krasinski drive in a pick up truck, buy some oranges and bottled water in a convenience store then head to a little league game where his son is playing. We see his wife (played by his real life wife Emily Blunt) and their children from the previous movie and meet Cillian Murphy as a neighbor listening to a Red Sox game on his radio. We soon learn that this is the first day that the creatures from the previous movie come to our world and change everything. We see a fire in the sky and a lot of dramatic shots of characters looking upward but then suddenly the suspense starts and the creatures from the first film are terrorizing the town. I did find it odd that somehow some of these characters knew to be silent right away. After a few intense scares it cuts to the moment that the first film ended and we see the title on the screen.

One of the greatest strengths of the first film was its award worthy sound design and A Quiet Place Part II once again makes great use of silence matched with striking images. The difference was that in the previous film it left a lot more to the viewers imagination. I remember stating that I was fascinated by these creatures and how they got to our planet and wanted to see more of them and learn about this world John Krasinski and his team created. I guess I got what I wanted except these creatures were not as interesting as I had hoped and were a lot more predictable than I anticipated. All these monsters can do is scream, run fast, and kill people with their long sharp claws. They really serve no other purpose than to prey on humans who make noise above a certain decibel so the more we learned about the them the much more mundane they seem. A Quiet Place Part II relies far too heavily on jump scares and about fifty percent of them you will probably see coming. It does not contain the deeper more nuanced moments that made the first movie stand out from its peers. Also, this sequel suffered from the painfully lazy screenwriting trope of characters suddenly appearing where they need to be in the nick of time.

Cillian Murphy and Emily Blunt in ‘A Quiet Place Part II’

A Quiet Place Part II also follows the rulebook that a lot of sequels seem to do by creating a plot that forces the main characters to split up for no real reason other than to be an excuse for parallel editing to watch the characters in peril simultaneously. In actuality one suspenseful situation at a time would have sufficed and may have been more compelling instead of this juggling act in the editing room to satisfy all of the character arcs and keep the viewers on edge. This is what the headline means that A Quiet Place Part II tried to do more when it should have done less. Like Occum’s Razor, sometimes the simplest explanation or solution is the best.

Cillian Murphy fills in for John Krasinski’s character this time and is not given anything of substance or importance to do other than to further drive the narrative. He is noble when the plot needs him to be, cowardly when it serves the script and of course, comes around by the end so we know where he stands. Cillian Murphy is a very talented actor and I have admired him ever since first seeing him in 28 Days Later (2003) but here any capable actor could have done this part.

Also, A Quiet Place Part II goes The Walking Dead route. It touches on, but does not really tackle the concept that the human beings are the real monsters. I almost wish it did not approach this theme at all because it does so half heartedly. The themes of family still loomed large and it handled those moments much better than trying to be a commentary on humanity. The biggest flaw of A Quiet Place Part II is the fact that it blatantly tried to outdo the first one in terms of suspense when that was not the correct method to construct a sequel. The first movie did not need to be topped, it needed to be explored to further the world building that movie created. I guess the viewer kind of gets that with more alien attacks and more action, but it was just not as interesting or shockingly unpredictable as even the first few moments of the original film. A human sacrifice may have been manipulative but necessary for this sequel. I guess the movie should be commended for sticking with its character arcs and allowing the children to grow up since the original and mature to the point that they show to be capable of saving the adults and they earn well deserved praise for their acting ability especially Millicent Simmonds a deaf actress in real life. From the final moments with her in hero form we know that we can look forward to taking on more responsibility in A Quiet Place Part III.

Skip part II and just watch the original A Quiet Place which sadly is not longer streaming for free on Amazon Prime.

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