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KIDS ON FILM

Hasty Conclusions About 'Speed 2' Do Hold Water

In "Speed 2: Cruise Control," the woman (played by Sandra Bullock) who drove the careening bus in the original movie is back, this time trapped on an out-of-control luxury liner on a collision course with an oil tanker. Rated PG-13.

June 26, 1997|MARK CHALON SMITH | SPECIAL TO THE TIMES

ANAHEIM — As anybody knows, movie sequels can be tricky. You remember the first film so fondly that the second may not look so good in comparison.

With that in mind, many of the kids who showed up for "Speed 2: Cruise Control" on its opening weekend said they went in with reduced expectations.

Smart move, because the overriding opinion was that the sequel didn't come close to the original. In a word, "Speed 2" could be described as water logged.

"It wasn't awesome [like the original], but it had some bomb [meaning 'good'] parts," said Jason Helms, 13, of Tustin. "It was weird, though," that all the action took place on a big boat.

Just about every youngster interviewed felt the same way. They thought it was highly strange to focus on a luxury liner not capable of going more than a few knots per hour.

They found the original movie much more logical: A bus hurtling through freeway traffic, unable to stop because of a bomb set to go off if it did, made perfect suspense sense.

"In that [original] you knew that something really bad could happen," Jason said. "But this one didn't feel like it would."

Caroline Flowers, Jason's 14-year-old friend, also from Tustin, agreed. "I know they were worried about it crashing, but a boat? C'mon."

Both said they've been on boats, big and small, and never felt threatened. They have, however, been scared while riding in fast cars or buses.

"People get killed in cars all the time," Caroline noted.

Anaheim 15-year-old Sedona Phillips wasn't thrilled by "Speed 2" either but said some passages excited her.

She was amazed that the boyfriend-hero (played by Jason Patric) didn't get sucked into the boat's huge propeller during one particularly nerve-racking scene, and she thought a near-miss with an oil tanker also was well done.

The best moment, she said, was when the cruiser runs aground near the movie's end, ripping apart a small seaport village while tourists scamper out of the way. "That was scary," Sedona declared.

There was agreement on the stars. Sandra Bullock, who reprises her role as a slightly ditsy woman with a knack for finding trouble, was seen as "cute" and "funny."

Patric, who replaced Keanu Reeves as her boyfriend and the designated action hero, didn't get high marks.

"He was too quiet," Sedona said. Her friend, Eric Jackson, 15, also from Anaheim, said Patric couldn't compare with his favorite actors, such as Arnold Schwarzenegger.

"He just didn't look like he could do the things he did," Eric decided.

Feelings were mixed about the villain, a wacko computer genius and ready killer played by Willem Dafoe.

Eric said Dafoe gave him the creeps because he was "so weird-looking and jumpy."

But Sedona found him dull and predictable. "They always act the same, crazy like that," she said. "I didn't care much about him."

*

PARENT PERSPECTIVE: Although "Speed 2" was intense, most parents said they'd have no problem recommending it for kids 10 and over.

The violence is minimal; it's not especially bloody, and the body count is low, which is fairly rare for action films these days.

"I took my son [11-year-old Patrick] and don't feel bad about it at all," said Rick Jessup, 36, from Santa Ana. "It was less rowdy than some of the stuff you see on TV.

"And I liked it. . . . It wasn't as good as the original, but it had some fun, really hyped-up sections."

* FAMILY FILMGOER, Page 14

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