Upfront, it should be noted that "102 Dalmatians" is far darker and more violent than the original - either the live action or animated versions. That said, this is one of those rare sequels that actually surpasses the first film in a number of ways. First, the story is less ingrained in our heads, so its fresher and unexpectedly more effective. Second, there are plot twists to rival a gangster flick, with Cruella DeVil first framed as a puppy lover, and then as the nasty character we all love to hate. Third - and most impressive - is Glenn Close, who chews up every scene here in a Golden Globe nominated performance that makes her far scarier and more effective as a villain. She's almost channeling the spirit of Alex in "Fatal Attraction" with her vile manner and spitted dialogue. This is an actress at the top of her form - part Alex and part Norma Desmond (who she played to raves, and a Tony Award, in "Sunset Boulvard.) Bluntly said, Close gives a tremendous performance as the puppy-coat wearing diva - it's high camp at its best, and she makes the film soar in unexpected, hystrionic ways. This Ella-Cruella is one of a kind.