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Saturday, 21 April 2018

Retro Review: Short Circuit 2 (1988)

Short Circuit 2
Cast: Fisher Stevens, Michael McKean, Cynthia Gibb, Tim Blaney, Jack Weston
Genre: Science Fiction Comedy
U.S Box Office Gross: over $21 million

Plot: Robot Johnny Five comes to the city and gets manipulated by criminals who want him for their own purposes 

'More Like A Malfunction'

Short Circuit 2 is an improvement over the first film, but at the same time, it feels like something is missing and that it feels too much like the original but with some minor changes in the cast.

Johnny 5 is very child-like and has a curiosity for everything as he wanders around New York (although it is partly filmed in Canada) and ends up being taken advantage by a con man, who isn't all he seems. 

The most heart-crushing and saddest moment in the entire film is when Johnny 5 is dismantled, ripped to sheds and taken apart by a pair of crooks led by Oscar. It may not be the most shocking and goriest of 'killings' to that of Robocop, but still, it was very distressing to watch and brought me to tears. The battery fluid spurting out and with that, it is akin to a person dying with blood pouring out. & it was sadder than Weebo's beating in Flubber. But it was cool to see him all fixed up. Johnny is sweet, lovable and who comes across and good-hearted. 

The sequel strives to be both inferior and superior to the first film in many ways, as it takes Johnny out of his comfort zone, allowing him to wander around the city and explore. Johnny 5 more alive than ever before. Having said that, it did feel that the omission of Steve Guttenberg and Ally Sheedy from the original Short Circuit was a poor one and with Fisher Stevens and Cynthia Gibb in place of those two, it just didn't work for me. They just couldn't carry this one and weren't able to make it any better than it ought to have been. Stevens portrayal of Asian Ben with the tan-like make-up and dodgy accent is a bit uncomfortable to watch. Actually, before I'd heard of the name Fisher Stevens, when I was young, I assumed the actor who played him was of Indian descent. Michael McKean, in contrast, I enjoyed his performance more and when he finally warms up to the robot is really sweet. His character, Fred is a jerk at first, but he soon has a change of heart towards Johnny. He definitely adds something different to that character. The villains, however, are just stocky & that they are the poor man's Wet Bandits of Home Alone.

The sequel's poor box office showing meant it killed the franchise and the story, but for the last 30 mins or so of moments, just never really seems to go anywhere and to really explode and it dragged out way too much. With the film unravelling, it became predictable how this would turn out and it was far from profound.

Final Verdict:

Compared to the first Short Circuit, this is marginally better, but compared to many other films, especially those of this type, it just doesn't stack up. It's mildly good, but the story just wasn't as engrossing and but for Johnny and Fred, the rest of the characters were not as well developed and were a bit too one-dimensional.

I enjoyed Short Circuit 2 as a child of the 1980s in the 1980s, and as a standalone movie it's not bad, but it doesn't possess anything that makes it jaw-dropping and even with the robot premise, it lacks charm and it doesn't go far enough.


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