Now in theaters: "The Ring Two" and "Ice Princess."
The Ring Two
The sinister videotape is back, and so is Naomi Watts. This is more than a sequel, it's a franchise.
The original, a very scary movie, brought in more than $250 million around the world. It started with this: An unmarked videotape. Each person who plays it gets a call. A mysterious voice says, "Seven days," and hangs up. Seven days later, it's time to sign off. And it's not the kind of sign-off where they play "The Star-Spangled Banner." It's the one where they sing "Amazing Grace."
"The Ring Two" isn't so much about the tape as it is about revenge -- Samara's revenge. She's the girl on the tape who was cheated out of her childhood by her mother, played by Sissy Spacek.
This is one of the rare contemporary horror films that isn't a gore-fest. The director, who also made the Japanese film that inspired the American version, goes for suspense instead. It's good enough, fun enough, scary enough to keep the franchise alive.
David Dorfman, who plays Watts' son, is so sullen and withdrawn, it's as if you're not there with him. The poor kid starred in "The Ring," "The Ring Two" and, in between, he was in "The Texas Chainsaw Massacre." No wonder he's sullen and withdrawn. Mrs. Dorfman! Get your kid a comedy! Maybe he can learn to ice skate. Grade: B-
The Ice Princess
Michelle Trachtenberg learned to skate, and look what happened to her. Eight months of training spun her from the little sister on "Buffy the Vampire Slayer" to "Ice Princess," a surprisingly good tweener film.
A self-described physics geek, Trachtenberg's character is living her mother's dream: She's on a fast track to Harvard. She envies the high school figure skating queen, but that girl is living her own mother's dream.
Then, while doing a science project on the physics of skating, Trachtenberg learns she has real talent on ice.
"Ice Princess" loses points for falling into the kid-flick trap: condescension. Why is Joan Cusack, who plays Trachtenberg's mother, so blatant? She has everything but "Blue State" tattooed on her forehead. And why is the central character limited to choosing between Harvard and figure skating? Come on, kids are smarter than that.
Nevertheless, there's enough here for even the East German judge to like. Walking out of the theater I passed a woman with three girls who said to them, "This is one of the best movies I've taken you to in a long time."
I asked the woman, "What if your daughter gave up Harvard to ice skate?" And she put her hands over one of the girls' ears and mouthed, "I'd kill her." Grade: B