Monday, 2 November 2015

Tremors 5: Bloodlines

Critical, Need To Know Information. (An Introduction.)
Right, back on the horse, lets go.
It's good to have Tremors back. I have enjoyed the series since I first saw the original movie way back when and each new installment only reminds me of why I fell in love with these movies in the first place - B movie goodness.

Starting way back in 1990 Tremors is a series of comedic monster movies about giant subterranean worms whom run amok endangering the lives of the poor people living near by, 

Tremors 5 was originally set to be titled Tremors: The Thunder from Down Under and would have seen Burt and Earl (a returning Fred Ward) and possibly Val (A potentially returning Kevin Bacon) travel to Australia to battle the various Graboid life cycles, but this version of the film was sadly not to be and the project was scraped, but while countless other franchises reboot or remake their properties for new audiences even after this cancellation Tremor's survives and a new version of Tremors 5 began development which instead see's Graboid Slayer Burt Gummer (Michael Gross) traveling to Africa to deal with an Assblaster and Graboid incursion 

One of the series's greatest strengths always has been it's ability to perfectly walk the line between comedy and drama, while the serious is a story of individuals banding together to survive deadly creatures there is a reason that one of the creatures incarnation is given the name Assblasters, and the dependence on comedy to add levity

Burt's Back. (The Cast.)
Yes, that lovable paranoid survivalist is back. 
While Kevin Bacon and Fred Ward may have had top billing in the original following Tremors 2 it was Michael Gross who went onto be the star of the series, taking up the lead role in the third and fourth films as well as the short lived television show, so it's only natural that the actor would reprise the role once again, and boy am I glad he did.
There is an iconic quality to the character of Burt, from the moment he and Heather brutally blasted the graboid that burst into their basement into pieces in the first installment ("Broke into the wrong God damn rec room, didn't ya you bastard!") Burt has been the most quotable character of the series, maybe it's his paranoia towards big government, maybe it's his over prepared nature being constantly sidestepped by creatures that simply cannot be prepared for, but there is simply something that makes the character a delight to watch.

I love the fact that Burt is now filming his own survival series, it seems like a natural progression for the character to be sharing his experience between hunts.

Since its first Sequel 'Aftershocks' Tremors has carried some general sequel traditions
each new installment introduces a new link in the Graboid's life cycle (While this is not entirely true here we do get redesigns) and a new Sidekick for the returning lead:

  • In Tremors 2 Earl got Grady,
  • In Tremors 3 Burt got Jack, 
  • In Tremors 4 Hiram (Burt's Great Grandfather) got Juan
and so in Tremors 5 Burt teams up with Travis Welker (Jamie Kennedy)
Travis in my opinion is far from the most annoying sidekick, with that title going to Grady and unlike desert Jack the character carries an actual impact due to the way in which his character is tied to Burt's adding an interesting new dimension to both characters.

The rest of the characters are largely forgettable although the helicopter pilot is enjoyable enough to watch but beyond him most other character are decidedly one dimensional, there's a little girl, a bow and arrow wielding vet, a shady rich guy and a henchman and while their respective actors deliver strong performances there is little to elevate them above the role of potential graboid food.

New Links In The Food Chain. (The Monster Makeover.)
Being the first Tremors film in over Ten years mean that due to the advance in technology the Graboids and Assblasters are blessed with a design overhaul.
The film takes the logic that the African variation of the species have streamlined their evolutionary process compared to their Nevada or Mexican counterparts (or as one character puts it "everything is bigger in Africa").

I for one welcome these new designs while the concept of the Graboid was tested and true (Big Subterranean worm that hunts using vibrations and deploys three inner tongues to grab prey) the finish effect left a little to be desired, emerging above ground looking more like an angry potato than a terrifying beast so the new sleeker body makes the creature feel more worm-like and fluid. 
While i'm not entirely sure I support the decision of the Graboids tongue snakes being detachable now, largely due to the questions it raises: Do they reattach afterwards, if not are the capable of self sustainability? even so they are another great example of the success of the redesign looking incredibly more functional than its sock puppet counterpart (I mean just look at those mandibles!).

While the less said about the original design of the Assblaster the better. the new incarnation leaves the third stage in the life cycle looking far more aggressive (like teeth with wings) rather than the bird-esc designs of 'Back to Perfection' which never truly felt that threatening (... doesn't look very scary. More like a six-foot turkey.) but now their bodies show power they are carrying large men off into the sky rather than knocking them over cliffs and it takes far more than a potato gun to put them down.

The decision to move the action to another continent means that the series can introduce the new versions of the life cycles while avoiding annoying fans of the older films by writing off the original designs.

Hang Onto Your Prostate. (Action.)
The action follows the same pattern as the earlier films with most of the attacks occurring offscreen in the early encounters before becoming much more visceral in the second and third acts, and yet the lims greatest sequence doesn't feature a single Graboid or Assblaster but rather simply Burt locked in an animal cage under the hot sun of the African planes, while I won't give too much away everything from the lead in line of dialogue, to Burt's means of hydration, his personal confession and finally a big cat attack are some of the series's greatest moments.

Other standout moments including a flare wielding Travis facing off against an Assblaster and a new style of Graboid attack that see's the subterranean monsters get some serious air time.The film also enjoys a sequence almost shot-for-shot recreating the Raptor in the Kitchen sequence from Jurassic Park (with the raptors replaced with an Assblaster)

This Is A Bag Of Dicks. (Summary.)
It's important to remember that a direct to disc release does not automatically mean that a movie will be any worse than a film with a major cinema release,
And as such I would recommend Tremors 5 to anyone who may have enjoyed any installment of the series so far or is simply looking for an easy going monster movie to enjoy at home, while the film is unlikely to make anyone's top ten list and certainly won't forever change the face of cinema it's a welcome addition to a series that otherwise appeared to be dead,
There is plenty to entertain fans as the film throws out some great nods to previous Tremors films (my favorite being "Why is it that critical need to know information never reaches Burt Gummer?" a throwback to the line  "I feel I was denied critical, need-to-know information." from Tremors 2) and for newcomers; if you enjoy big monsters eating people then your all set.
It's cheap B Movie thrills but it's cheap B Movie thrills at its finest.  

1 comment:

  1. Just a thought: is it just me or is the african assblaster made somewhat "backwards"? Let me explain. In "Return to Perfection", the assblaster legs are made like those of a bird: knees bending on front, ankles bending on back and a long-jawed head. But when I look at the african assblaster, its knees bend in the back, its ankles bend on front, and the bottom looks like it'as having long jaws; it is the head that is short. Just like if, in the african breed, the bottom became the head and the head became the bottom. Is it what the creators actually had in mind? Or is it just an impression of mine?