Although I was not particularly fond of the first 8mm and knew that the sequel had nothing to do with the first, I stumbled across 8mm 2 and decided to witness it for its explicit content.
8mm 2 is really subtle in terms of storytelling, but not subtle in other areas. By that I mean that the narrative 8mm 2 is not that interesting because it unfolds at first by revealing who the characters are while forgetting to make them interesting one. 8mm 2 completely forgets to make itself an interesting film because despite having decent production values for a direct to DVD film and a cast which is higher quality than expected, it squanders them on countless other qualities which fail to live up to. I can't say that I expected much at all from 8mm 2 because 8mm wasn't even a good film despite being entertaining in certain areas. So a sequel which was released direct to DVD, has a low budget and features none of Nicolas Cage's presence would really not have the biggest chance at being an entertaining film. 8mm 2 does nnot deserve to bare the title of 8mm because the films are way different in terms of both narrative and quality. While 8mm was bad, it was suitably grim and violent enough to strongly convey precisely how sadistic the underside of the pornographic idustry was and it had a certain level of value in terms of the way that its protagonist got to the bottom of the case he was working in the story, as well as the fact that there was some decent action moments. With 8mm 2, the approach is a lot different because the story does not feature anything slightly close to exhileration in terms of investigation and is way too short on action or blood to be any sort of thrilling crime tale. It takes no time before 8mm 2 devolves into what it truly is and essentially what you can expect from a film as basic and unoriginal as it is: a bland, slow drama which is not involving or exciting. Like I said, many of its elements rise above the standard for the average Direct to DVD film, but as a whole it is just a weak and uncreative film which had nothing to do with 8mm and was clearly nothing but a waste of nice cinematography and attractive women.
Despite the explicit nature of many of its scenes and the fact that unsimulated sexual activity appears in the film, 8mm 2 still falls short of having the sexual energy that its predecessor did. This prevents the film from being a guilty pleasure, but it also makes the tone all wrong. The sexual nature of 8mm 2 glamourizes things which goes against what the first film stood for when it discussed the violent way that sexually explicit really was. Despite the fact that 8mm 2 touched upon the unhealthy fixation that much of society has on the exploitation of female bodies, it is only a theme that can be recognised if the viewer understands that in the real world as 8mm 2 uses a lot of naked women in a desperate attempt to turn its lacklustre film qualities into a guilty pleasure. While 8mm 2 may spark a few erections in the younger crowds who are desperate for breasts, it takes away from some of the points that the first film made and instead just acts slightly exploitive solely for the purpose of being exploitive while being a shallow attempt to make social commentary which is clearly just actually vanity. When 8mm 2 tries to be something more than what its limitations will allow it to actually be, it has some moments which spark thought. But they are so minor and buried beneath lackluster filmmaking that the impact on the viewer is either an erection or nothing. While some scenes in the film would be easily classified as wank material, as a film it really does not have enough virtues to hold itself up as a piece of storytelling and actually just comes off as a dull waste of time and some actual potential, and it was severly lacking in explicit nature for a film with a rating of R18+. Frankly, it is uninspired and generic without having even enough minor qualities to qualify in the same class as Joel Schumacher's 8mm.
The one thing that does come off as somewhat surprising for a direct to DVD film is the fact that 8mm 2 does consistent of some decent acting performances.
Johnathon Schaech is decent in 8mm 2. He doesn't do a perfect job because his character is severly limited, but he supplies a certain sense of reality to the part which doesn't make him seem like he is ever trying too hard and therefore evokes a sense which makes the character seem rather organic to a certain extent. He makes a half-hearted effort to get involved in the material and maintains a consistent sense of physicality which subtly presents some sort of sense that he is emotionally involved in the role, even if his line delivery is rather monotonous. For such a weak character and low quality film, Johnathon Schaech does a decent job as the lead in 8mm 2 and certainly does a good job rising above the standard for the basic direct to DVD film.
Lori Heuring is also a nice touch. Her sex appeal is undoubtably an asset, but she is rather subtle in it and does not flash it around. In actual fact, her performance follows in the steps of Johnathon Schaech by being somewhat monotonous in line delivery but firm and involved in terms of physicality. Her character is also a rather thin one, but she does what she can with the part and pulls through with a half decent performance which shows potential and a particular skill for conveying physical emotions through her facial gestures and her emotional movemnets.
The presence of Julie Benz is interesting considering how succesful she would later become with her role in Dexter, and in her brief amount of time on screen she makes herself an easily charming presence with her naturally sweet nature and easy line delivery. She really deserved more screen time because she was one of the best elements of the film.
So despite transcending the standard limitations of a direct to DVD movie in many areas, 8mm 2 is nevertheless a generic and vain film which is not thrilling, original or relevant to the Nicolas Cage film 8mm in any conceivable way whatsoever.