So, we come to the end of another surprisingly durable franchise (first movie was from 1990, so it’s done pretty well to avoid a reboot). Michael Gross makes it through all five, but nothing else does, not even the “classic” Graboids. After a classic part 1, it’s been a bit sad to sit through the largely dull parts 2-4, with part 3 being the absolute pits, but can part 5 turn it round? It’s a welcome return to the ISCFC for Don Michael Paul, aka “The Director With Three First Names”, who we covered on “Lake Placid: The Final Chapter”, and who also acted in “Robot Wars”.
Burt Gummer is now a reality TV star, where he hunts Graboids and whatever else wanders across his path, teaching his viewers how to make a clay oven and cook rattlesnake out in the wild. While he never struck me as a particularly hands-on sort of guy to this point (he had lots of Army rations in his bunker in part 1, implying he wasn’t that bothered about fending for himself), it’s a decent bit of character development. His cameraman gets a better job and quits, but not before finding him a replacement…Jamie Kennedy, whose introduction is doing some “extreme” biking, like was popular 20 years ago.
Jamie Kennedy is one of those people I dislike for no particular reason. Since he was given the cool speech in “Scream”, he’s been given an almost endless series of chances – numerous starring vehicle TV shows, stand up TV specials, award hosting gigs, and “the funny guy” in tons of movies. He’s never once shown any appreciable charisma or talent, yet here he is, in 2015, still top billed in movies. Okay, not very good movies. But, if you don’t believe me, and think I’m being harsh on poor Mr Kennedy…an early starring role, “Son Of The Mask”, got him a Razzie nomination for worst actor. He hosted Activision’s E3 event in 2007 and was mocked for performing drunk and having no knowledge of Activision’s stuff. He lied about going back to the “Scream” franchise. His New Year’s Eve 2012 show is still mocked now as maybe the worst TV show ever made. There are plenty of others. Yet he’s famous and I’m an office drone who writes these for my own amusement.
So, a South African guy from their Ministry of the Environment, or whatever it is, finds Burt and asks for his help in putting down an outbreak of Ass-Blasters, who’ve popped up there; Burt’s payment will be the South Africans paying for the production of his TV show for the next three years. At the same time, a pair of local archaeologists discover a creature which is a bit like a Graboid, only longer, leaner and more intelligent (I guess).
The first thing to notice is the acting is better and the script is stronger than anything since…well, I think it’s probably the best of the sequels, but I know a lot of people like them. The South African muscle, played by Brandon Auret, is a lot of fun, as is Gross’s brother from another mother, Ian Roberts as the lunatic helicopter pilot Den. Best of all, though, is local vet Nandi, the mother of a young kid that Jamie Kennedy befriends. She’s played by Pearl Thusi, and without wanting to be too sleazy, she’s a very beautiful woman, but more importantly she’s a decent actress. Those of you (us) wanting more can see her on season 2 of “Quantico” or the South African version of “Lip Sync Battle”.
So, it’s pretty much a remake of part 2, but done better. One of the original Perfection crew goes to another country to help them sort things out, and takes a wacky friend along for the ride. Pondering why no-one bothered to learn how to fight the Graboids in the intervening 25 years, or why so few people in South Africa are aware of what must be the biggest news of the century, or why they forgot they’d already captured one at the end of part 3, are questions sadly unanswered. The Graboids, Shriekers and Ass-Blasters are a different evolutionary chain to the ones Burt’s used to, which basically means they’re taking advantage of the far superior CGI to make something which looks decent and terrifying – the difference from the terrible use of computers in part 3 is like night and day. It’s really cool to see it filmed in South Africa too, giving it a different and interesting look to what we got in the first four.
ISCFC FAVOURITE THING – the wooden guard tower! And you know it gets destroyed by a super-Graboid!
There’s a moderately interesting story behind this – the original writers, directors and producers kept trying to get their Australia-based Tremors script made with Universal, but it was stuck in development hell for a decade, until finally an exec came along who liked it, but didn’t want the original creative team to have much input at all. Perhaps they’d seen parts 2-4? So, that whole group of people walked away, and we ended up with…well, an actually decent film for once. I imagine they were a bit upset when they saw it and were like “oh, I can see why they kicked us off it now”.
If you can put up with Jamie Kennedy, who’s the least annoying he’s ever been here, then there’s a heck of a lot to like. Rips along, lots of good characters, good effects, funny occasionally, and I sort o hope they carry on with the series.
Rating: thumbs up