I should start this review by stating that I've never seen the original 8MM movie starring Nic Cage...but I'm not sure that's important, since 8MM 2 seems to have absolutely nothing in common with the first movie, other than the name and some similar sexual themes.
But it wasn't the worst idea in the world for Sony to slap the 8MM name on this direct-to-DVD release, since it's probably given the movie a little more attention than it normally would have gotten. And that's a good thing, because while 8MM 2 isn't going to set any DVD sales records, I found it to be a pretty decent flick...with a solid story, more than a healthy dose of sex and nudity (and this was the Rated version I reviewed...an Unrated one is also available)...and a neat twist ending that even this frequent movie-goer didn't see coming.
A word of warning to those who may be picking up the title...you may want to avoid reading the synopsis on the back of the box, since it gives away plot details that come very late in the film. It doesn't give away the great ending, but I think the majority of viewers will enjoy the movie a lot more if they can avoid reading the box cover.
8MM2 focuses on young engaged couple David and Tish (played by Johnathon Schaech and Lori Heuring, who are both very solid in the movie) who begin the film in Budapest (David is an American with political aspirations; Tish is the daughter of a diplomat). They find themselves discussing some personal sexual fantasies with each other and then get into a situation where they'll be able to live at least one of them out – by getting into a threesome with another woman (Why, oh why, can't all girlfriends be so open-minded? But I digress...). But it turns out someone has filmed the tawdry encounter with a hidden camera, and is using the video to blackmail the couple.
While there's a lot of nudity and sex in the movie, I think to call it "gratuitous" would be a disservice to both the filmmakers and the actors. Much like Basic Instinct and other sexual thrillers of the genre, the sex and nudity are for the most part pivotal to the plot – although that doesn't mean it still can't be arousing to watch.
Count 8MM 2 as one of the surprises of 2005. It's one of the few direct-to-video DVDs that I've seen that would have actually played quite well if given a theatrical release.
The movie is anamorphic and shown in the 1.85:1 ratio. This is actually a pretty darn good transfer, and comparable with the kind of transfer you'd see for a big-budget mainstream release. Kudos to Sony for not skimping on quality just because this was a direct-to-video title. English and French subtitles are also available.
Audio is presented in 5.1 Dolby, and a 2.0 French track is also available. The audio is fairly active, but not overbearing. Other than the occasional music during a few scenes and a few short action sequences, I'm not sure this picture justified a 5.1 track, but it's nice to have nevertheless. Once again, props to Sony for taking the time and not skimping in either the audio or the video transfer.
The major extra is a two-part Behind The Scenes featurette that can be viewed in two 24-minute sections or as one 48-minute piece. I'm not sure why the segment is divided in two in the first place, but it's a nice look at the making of the movie, including comments with the actors as well as director J.S. Cardone.
The only other extras are a pair of Trailers - one for the original 8MM (letterboxed, but non-anamorphic); and one for Sueno (1.85:1 anamorphic). A chapter selection is also available.
THE BOTTOM LINE
I went into this movie thinking it wouldn't be very good, but hoping to see "a little skin". It actually turned out to be pretty good, and even showed more "skin" than I thought it would! And because of the twist ending, viewers are probably going to wind up watching the picture more than one time – which means it even scores well in the "rewatchablilty" department. If there's one caveat to my review, I would say go with the "Unrated" version over this one – since I'd expect that one to be even more sensual than this R-Rated version. But you'll definitely want to take a look at 8MM 2 - it's a well-conceived sexual thriller.