DVD Review: Elektra Luxx

Seeing the sequel to a film without having seen the first installment is never recommended. Characters are usually at their strongest when being introduced to audiences for the first time, whereas sequels are vehicles with minor additions that build off that initial foundation. So it was surprising to learn that Elektra Luxx was a sequel to one of writer/director Sebastian Gutierrez previous works, Women in Trouble, even though that information is nowhere to be found on the packaging.

The reasoning behind this lack of advertising is likely because those who have seen Women in Trouble know the character of Elektra Luxx, and thus, would know it was a sequel. At the same time, those who haven’t seen the first film may be intrigued by what this film offers and may be scared off if they found out they’d already missed the first chapter and choose not to bother altogether.

As someone who never saw Women in Trouble, I went into Elektra Luxx knowing nothing about anyone involved. It’s quite an ensemble cast, with various stories lightly intertwining throughout. While this technique works great in films such as Snatch or Pulp Fiction, here it feels more disjointed, lacking the correct flow needed to bring everything together smoothly in the end.

The main story focuses on former porn star Elektra Luxx (Carla Gugino), as she tries to move on from the business and deal with her pregnancy at the same time. She becomes a “sexology” instructor at a local community college, teaching those who take the class “How to Act like a Porn Star in Bed.” Things seem to be going smoothly until a flight attendant with a bizarre connection to Elektra’s past (to say the least) comes to her asking for a favour that will change the course of her life dramatically.

One of the side stories focus on a young man (Joseph Gordon-Levitt) who is so obsessed with Elektra that he not only creates an entire website dedicated to her, but also ignores the fact that true love may be closer than he thinks. There’s also another that follows Holly (Adrianne Palicki) and her best friend Bambi (Emmanuelle Chriqui) as they head to Mexico for a vacation, where Holly struggles with the choice of whether or not she should tell Bambi that she’s in love with her. Finally, Timothy Olyphant makes a brief appearance as Private Eye Dellwood Butterworth, who has been tasked with following Elektra in hopes of recovering the stolen property of those who hired him.

While the film works well enough, I can’t help but feel that it would have been more enjoyable had I known of its connections to Women in Trouble beforehand. It wasn’t until after watching that I learned of its predecessor and when I did I started to understand why Elektra Luxx felt somewhat incomplete. To put it in other terms, it’s kind of like coming into Empire Strikes Back without having seen Star Wars. Sure, you get the gist of what’s going on; however, there’s still some significant back story missing that would help make the film more enjoyable. Not that I’m comparing Women in Trouble to Star Wars, but I’m sure you get my point.

There are no real complaints to be had in the acting department, with great performances all around. Gugino plays the part of Luxx extremely well, and has a charm about her that you can’t help but root for. Gordon-Levitt really steals the show as Bert Rodriguez, while Palicki and Chriqui have great chemistry that really help bring their somewhat underdeveloped love story (again, underdeveloped for those who haven’t seen the first film) to a believable level. Olyphant’s character Dellwood is someone I wish there was more of, as he’s suave, funny and intriguing. Luckily, it looks like he’ll be back for the rumoured third film (Women in Ecstasy) as the abrupt ending to this film would indicate.

Despite its shortcomings, Elektra Luxx is enjoyable enough on its own merits. Gutierrez has crafted a group of people that aren’t perfect by any means, but are enjoyable to watch for the most part. While it definitely won’t appeal to everyone, those who enjoyed Women in Trouble will likely find more to love here. To those who haven’t, I’d recommend checking that one out first just to give everything a more complete feel.

The video is presented in 1.78:1 Anamorphic Widescreen, and looks solid all around. There was never any real feeling of over saturation, or the likes. The picture looks sharp overall, and the colours are strong and as vibrant as you could ask for. The audio, presented in the standard 5.1 Dolby Digital sound great as well, with music, dialogue and background noise complimenting one another, never leaving the viewer straining to hear what’s going on.

Here’s hoping fans aren’t looking for any type of commentary, or inside perspectives on the film, as the extras are extremely bare. There are three deleted scenes, which are quite lengthy (one reaching upwards of 10 minutes) and were taken out of the film for good reason. While one of the scenes involving one of Elektra’s sexology students laying down ground rules before participating in a three way with her husband and another woman is funny, it also would have thrown the pacing for the film completely off. None of these were needed, however, they’re worth a quick look if you enjoy the film.

Elektra Luxx is a charming, funny film that I can only suspect would be better if you’ve seen its predecessor Women in Trouble. That’s not to say that it’s bad or not worth watching, it’s just incomplete and lacking of any real depth or foundation of its own. Fans of the first will likely enjoy it, and anyone else interested should start with the first and move forward from there.

Destination Films presents Elektra Luxx. Written and Directed by: Sebastian Gutierrez. Starring: Carla Gugino, Joseph Gordon-Levitt, Timothy Olyphant, Addrianne Palicki, Emmanuelle Chriqui. Running time: 100 minutes. Rating: R. Released on DVD: June 21, 2011. Available at Amazon.com.

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