Some of you may be aware, I am a big fan of the movie series Tremors. What started out as a horror comedy monster movie featuring Kevin Bacon and Fred Ward as made a nice little niche for itself with some of the most solid sequels and franchises that I have ever seen. Thanks to a small, but fervent fanbase and actors from the original movie willing to champion the cause, Tremors has become a surprising brand with five movies and a TV Series under its belt. Just last month, the franchise released its newest movie, Tremors 5: Bloodlines and since I am in the movie criticism business, it is a prime target for my analytical destruction and destruction it shall be! I am not going to sit here and bash the fifth installment of this movie, it actually isn’t that bad. This is especially true when you consider the fact that by the fifth installment of a franchise, the movies tend to suck and suck hard. But all things considered, this movie is certainly one of the weak points within the franchise.
The movie takes place 12 years after the TV series and Burt Gummer (Michael Gross) is still a popular reality television star/personality who films his exploits hunting Graboids across the Great American Nowhere. One day, Burt gets a new cameraman named Travis Welker (Jamie Kennedy) who wants to help him expand his brand. On the same day, Burt is also approached by an enigmatic businessman named Erick van Wyk (Daniel Janks) who implores him to come to South Africa to extinguish the horrible ass-blaster problem they have recently developed.
Burt and Travis agree and head off for South Africa. There, they are introduced to a new bloodline of ass-blaster/graboid, a more evolved and deadly form than the North American breed of graboid. Now they look a lot more ‘menacing’ and more ‘horribly CGIed’ than before. The movie follows Burt and Travis in the traditional buddy buddy Tremors fashion as these guys attempt to kill this much more formidable foe.
At this point, Tremors has its own feel to it. If you are going to make a Tremors movie, you need to be able to get that right balance of terror, comedy, and action. The movie can’t be too dark, but it can’t be too light-hearted and campy either. Tremors 5: Bloodlines certainly has that feel to it. Moments of Burt Gummer comically going insane and drinking his own urine inside of a cage in the middle of the desert are spliced in with moments of a girl almost being eaten by a flying vagina with teeth that propels itself by igniting gas expulsions from its ass. You have moments of a graboid on steroids eating a man whole mixed in with Hippo from Chappie mugging at the camera. This movie is that right blend of comedy and creature feature that Tremors fans are expecting from the continuation of the series.
A Well Used Low Effects Movie
It is understandable that this movie has a tiny ass budget and as such they take the B Horror Movie route and rely on some very shitty CGI in order to get by with the creatures. But luckily, the creators of this movie did seem to notice that a lot of shitty CGI may not be the best idea and relied a lot on some bloody practical effects and some good acting from a surprisingly strong cast of actors and actresses.
I will always give props to a director and production staff that understands their limitations and attempts to give the audience what they are capable of creating instead of hamfisting poor animation into your creature feature. Props to the film crew for knowing when to use strong practical effects and limiting the use of the poor animation.
Michael Gross is an absolute gem of a man. The guy took a single character in Burt Gummer and turned him into an absolute star. Just like the other movies in the Tremors line up, this movie is squarely on the shoulders of Gross as he leads us through the movie as the eccentric right-wing gun nut hell-bent on saving the earth from these subterranean monsters.
Some of the best scenes in the movie are just when the camera is running on Gross and he continue to churn out comedic gold. The scene of him locked up in the cage and watching the wheels turn in the mind of an absolute magnificent son of a bitch are absolutely wonderful and provide a lot of the great comedy moments of this film. I can watch a movie starring Michael Gross any day of the week.
The Tremors, Die Hard and Jurassic Park ‘References’ are Fun… But Can Get Rather Insufferable at Times
A wise guy once said: ‘Do not remind people of better movies in your shitty movie!’ While it is true that Tremors 5: Bloodlines is a decent movie, the amount of references to other movies gets down right insufferable. Of course you have the nods to the original. The fact that Burt and Travis’s character are an EXACT COPY of the relationship that Grady and Earl share and they have several scenes such that call back to the other movies like the rich foreign investor coming to ask an experienced graboid hunter for help; a shopkeeper being pulled under his shop and killed; and Burt’s unhealthy obsession with an HK 41.
But it also references Jurassic Park and Die Hard ad nauseam. I get a few winks and nudges to the audience, but the scene in which Buruti and Amahle being attacked in the kitchen is a SHOT FOR SHOT remake of the raptors in the kitchen scene from Jurassic Park. The ‘come to LA, have a few laughs’ line is recreated in this movie when Travis walks into a graboid nest. The scene that makes no goddamn sense in context considering Travis had no objections to coming to South Africa except more money for Burt.
Look, I like a good reference or call back as much as the next guy, but when 1/3 of your damn movie is references to other movies, that is less of some cheeky fun and more of you failing as a director, writer, and producer to come up with your own damn material.
Piss Poor Writing and Bad Direction
As much as this movie is saved by people who know the source material and Michael Gross being Michael fucking Gross, it doesn’t excuse the fact that it has a shit script and is horrendously directed. First off, this movie is a straight up rip off of Jurassic Park 3. The South African graboids and ass blasters are pissed off simply because one of their eggs was stolen and are now hunting them back down. It even comes complete with a scene near the end of a girl being surrounded by graboids and the other characters saying that they have a ‘hostage’ situation. I was legitimately surprised that Michael Gross didn’t whip out a 3D printed graboid trachea and start trying to communicate with the damn thing. Also, Jurassic Park 3 is a terrible movie! Why would you base your movie on a shittier movie?
Also, this is more of a nitpick of Hollywood in general, but this movie is a nasty culprit of it. When was it that the bow and arrow became the epitome of feminine combat?! Don’t get me wrong, it is cool and all and I can dig me some Katniss Everdeen using it. But since The Hunger Games it seems that every woman who is about to enter into combat whips out some form of a bow and arrow. It doesn’t make any fucking sense! Especially when the entire movie is based around the idea that they have to hunt huge fucking graboids and ass blasters and the weapons that they have are just not going to cut the mustard. If a pistol is not enough to take on monsters, what makes you think a pointed spear propelled by a bow is going to be a much better weapon?! I am also calling bullshit on a bow and arrow that can pierce a steel fucking table! I am sure someone can find a YouTube video to refute this belief, but fuck you! I do not believe that is even fucking possible!
Mix in the fact that the van Wyk villain and Hippo from Chappie have no direction except to look generally evil and assholish, Burt Gummer’s friend being eaten by a graboid and coming back on-screen like it isn’t a big deal and showing no remorse that his friend just died in front of him, and other just stupid scenes shows the complete lack of depth and creativity from the directors and writers of this movie.
Who in their right mind thought that any one wanted to see Jamie Kennedy on screen doing… ANYTHING?! I can understand that the guy has fallen on some hard times since his Scream days, but that doesn’t mean we have to suffer from his annoying mug being one of the center pieces of the damn film. I get it that they wanted to do the Grady and Earl thing and they wanted to expand on the Burt Gummer character by giving him a person from his past… But Jamie Kennedy is just too annoying in this movie to be redeemable.
First off, they try to play him off as this motorcycle riding badass complete with leather jacket and he immediately goes into the classic ‘tell don’t show’ approach of explaining that he used to work for the NSA, CNN, and all these other outlets, but his character does not portray that. If he were like Grady Hoover, some taxi driver who saw his big break and took it, that I would buy.
But Jamie Kennedy trying to play a badass ex-NSA, CNN correspondant person is like Ben Carson trying to convince people that he would be a decent president. There is nothing but shame and bewilderment that follows. Everything feels forced and Kennedy’s fucked up hair, leather jacket, and scraggly goatee doesn’t scream awesome as much as it screams ’14 year old’s vision of masculinity.’
By all accounts this movie should be terrible. It is poorly written, poorly directed, and the acting can be fairly terrible from half the cast… But thanks to the knowledge of their limitations, the steadfast adherence to the source material, and the wonderful performance from Michael Gross this movie is saved from the ‘absolute shit’ pile and stored in the ‘eh it is okay’ pile.
The movie is on Netflix right now and it is certainly worth its 100 minutes to give it a once over. As far as the Tremors movies are concerned, it does find itself near the low-end. But if you are a fan it is worth your time. Not as good as 1, 2, or the series… But okay.
Final Score 2.5/5
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