The squeamish among you will be pleased to find out that no animals are put in any sort of danger in “Beastmaster 2”. You think one of his menagerie dies, but they don’t, the tiger is normal tiger-coloured and the ferrets save the day. Hurrah!
Never mind part 1 altogether, really. The peace that Dar achieved at the end of the first film…er…what first film? Look over there! *runs away* We’ve got some serious B-movie royalty in this one – the bad guy, Arklon, is Wings Hauser (last seen by us in the amazing “Rubber”); one of his henchmen is Robert Z’Dar, returning to the screen soon for “Samurai Cop 2”; making a brief cameo is horror legend Michael Berryman; and introduced later is Kari Wuhrer, who we loved in “Sharknado 2” and “Alien Tornado”, but who really ought to have been a far bigger star. And, even though I don’t go searching his films out, this is again Jim Wynorski-related, as he wrote the script.
The gimmick of this film is a tried and tested staple of low budget cinema – the baddie opens a portal to present day LA! Theirs is a parallel universe, apparently. So, after a little bit where Wuhrer, playing wild child Jackie, accidentally drives through the portal and has a very hard time believing she’s not in LA anymore, the entire main cast decamps to present day LA, and Arklon goes looking for the neutron detonator, a mega-nuke of some sort that can destroy the Earth. Arklon sucks all the knowledge of the earth from some poor cop’s head using magic, Dar follows Jackie and evil witch Lyranna has been watching LA through the portal for months so knows all about our customs.
There’s a surprisingly small amount of “fish out of water” comedy on display, as if everyone realised that would be too cheesy. Arklon is trying to get the neutron detonator to take back to his world and rule unopposed, and Dar is trying to stop him, nice and simple-like. There’s a “hey, we’re the real barbarians, man” moment; Dar gets into rock n roll and calling people “asshole”; there’s the sort of scene that “Wayne’s World” parodied, when Dar happens to meet a monster in the woods at the beginning who gives him a huge amount of incredibly important information; there’s the way Kari Wuhrer can’t shut up, even though unless her IQ is in single digits she must realise something very weird has happened to her; there’s the way Dar isn’t remotely curious about where this utterly alien woman has come from. In other words, this film is packed with little OTT details that really elevate it.
I know this film is cheaper than part 1, doesn’t look quite as beautiful, has a less strong cast, barely any death (must have been aiming for a family-friendly certificate) and is played for laughs much more than serious questing…but I think it’s a better film. The ending fight alone is a minor work of comic genius, even though the stakes are high and the characters are taking it seriously. You’ll have yourself some fun with this one.
Rating: thumbs up