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The Two Jakes (SE)
DVD disk
11.12.2007 By: Quigles
The Two Jakes (SE) order
Director:
Jack Nicholson

Actors:
Jack Nicholson
Harvey Keitel
Meg Tilly

Rating:
Movie:
Extras:
Overall:

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WHAT'S IT ABOUT?
Private detective Jake Gittes returns, this time trying to find the connection between a murder case, earthquakes, and oil.
IS IT A GOOD MOVIE?
This sequel to CHINATOWN isn't a bad movie, just a wholly unnecessary one. Thing is, it shouldn't be unnecessary; screenwriter Robert Towne originally planned the film to be part of a trilogy. The third is currently dead in the water (or is it?), but the cause of its demise is clearly the work of the hardships suffered to get THE TWO JAKES off the ground (Nicholson himself ended up directing just so it would finally happen), as well as its eventual failure at the box office. What we're left with is a film that stands alone on the outskirts of the continuing legacy of CHINATOWN, unsurprisingly paling in comparison to the original in every way.

The main problem plaguing this sequel is that everything that made the first film so unique is now handled in a way that feels simply conventional. They've taken away the bleak film noir world of private detective Jack Gittes and surrounded him in an altered world that resembles nothing like CHINATOWN. Obviously, a carbon copy of the original would be stupid, but the route they chose isn't any better—it's a carbon copy of every other by-the-numbers crime/detective story.

The film looks OK stylistically, but orangey hues can only go so far to add atmosphere to a production. Everything else is severely lacking. The story is messier, the mystery is only so involving, the returning characters feel forced, and even Jack Nicholson, who played the confident, witty Jake Gittes with so much bite in the film prior, now seems like a different character entirely.

It makes sense that Nicholson tried to rework the movie into its own identity, but at the same time, it relies so much on aspects of the first film that you can't really appreciate it without having seen the original. And to be honest, it’s a little hard to enjoy this sequel on its own merits when it keeps reminding you of how great the first was.
THE EXTRAS
Not much, which makes sense since the "Special Collector's Edition" of CHINATOWN (released on the same day) didn't have a lot either.

Jack on Jakes (18:20): A very insightful interview with director/star Jack Nicholson as he explains how the attempted trilogy was originally planned and the problems that came with making the sequel.

Also included is the Theatrical Trailer.
FINAL DIAGNOSIS
Jake Gittes is back, but in much more mundane fashion. It's not an awful film, however—merely one that can't get out of the shadow of its predecessor.
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