Sequels don’t usually get my juices going but this follow-up to the 2018 hit movie makes all the right moves. Writer-director John Krasinski wastes no time in revealing the spindly alien creatures who caused such havoc last time… and gives us ample time to examine the disgusting details of their anatomy.

But it’s the human factor–amazing ingenuity and a dogged refusal to surrender—that again takes center stage. Calm and cool-headed as ever, even without her husband to protect her and her family, Emily Blunt sets a great example for her children, an adolescent son (Noah Jupe) who’s braver then he realizes and a daughter (Millicent Simmonds) who refuses to treat her deafness as a shortcoming. A family friend played by Cillian Murphy isn’t convinced that humanity is worth saving, but his cynicism is undone by what he and the kids are able to accomplish.

I didn’t watch A Quiet Place Part II with a notepad to mark each “act” with a beginning and end-point, so I can’t tell you how many set-pieces this briskly-paced movie contains. That’s a tribute to how well Krasinski has crafted his screenplay. Each segment keeps you on the edge of your seat until it runs its course and you have a chance to breathe; then we’re on to the next.

We’ve seen the two youthful actors do splendid work before, Simmonds in the original film and Jupe in a handful of other parts (like Christian Bale’s son in Ford v. Ferrari  and Nicole Kidman’s boy in The Undoing), but they outdo themselves here. Krasinski has given them a marathon of suspenseful showdowns, all of which depend upon us relating to their plight and believing their decision-making skills.

A Quiet Place Part II  deserves to succeed because it’s so good—not just because it’s coasting on an earlier hit. Like any sequel it can’t offer a fresh core concept…but it can extend the thrills and chills without seeming forced or contrived. Krasinski learned what worked the first time around (in the script he wrote with Bryan Woods and Scott Beck) and has applied those lessons to this crowd-pleaser.

Leonard Maltin is one of the world’s most respected film critics and historians. He is best known for his widely-used reference work Leonard Maltin’s Movie Guide and its companion volume Leonard Maltin’s Classic Movie Guide, now in its third edition, as well as his thirty-year run on television’s Entertainment Tonight. He teaches at the USC School of Cinematic Arts and appears regularly on Reelz Channel and Turner Classic Movies. His books include The 151 Best Movies You’ve Never Seen, Of Mice and Magic: A History of American Animated Cartoons, The Great Movie Comedians, The Disney Films, The Art of the Cinematographer, Movie Comedy Teams, The Great American Broadcast, and Leonard Maltin’s Movie Encyclopedia. He served two terms as President of the Los Angeles Film Critics Association, is a voting member of the National Film Registry, and was appointed by the Librarian of Congress to sit on the Board of Directors of the National Film Preservation Foundation. He hosted and co-produced the popular Walt Disney Treasures DVD series and has appeared on innumerable television programs and documentaries. He has been the recipient of awards from the American Society of Cinematographers, the Telluride Film Festival, Anthology Film Archives, and San Diego’s Comic-Con International. Perhaps the pinnacle of his career was his appearance in a now-classic episode of South Park. (Or was it Carmela consulting his Movie Guide on an episode of The Sopranos?) He holds court at Follow him on Twitter and Facebook; you can also listen to him on his weekly podcast: Maltin on Movies. — [Artwork by Drew Friedman]

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June 2024