Fifth time isn’t charming

A move to South Africa does little to change Tremors’ form. Michael Gross’ parody of paranoid rifle-toting, second amendment preachers, Burt Gummer, is still the core of this creature series. He shoots, the underground traveling Graboids die.

Things have, of course, changed. Sequels will do that. Graboids stopped grabbing with the introduction of above ground “Ass Blasters.” Tremors 5 uses the bi-pedal form to stage clones of Jurassic Park. An Ass Blaster strike in a kitchen is familiar. The finale’s set-up reaches into Jurassic Park 3’s book of tension building. Tremors’ home studio happens to be Universal, who also handles Jurassic Park. Maybe they’re subliminally advertising. Or, Tremors is gassed out.

Budgets being what they are in this home video space, Tremors 5 bides time, soaking in a caricature of African culture. Of course cast newcomer Jamie Kennedy sits in on a cliche heavy, native African dance around a fire pit – all while audiences impatiently wait for the ensuing bloodshed.

Kennedy’s addition to the series is comically shriveled. Blame the script or Kennedy: Neither can carry the between-action scenery. Kevin Bacon and Fred Ward are desperately overdue for a return. Tremors 5’s idea of romance and masculinity is desperate.

Tremors has long since lost its wit. Few horror/comedies ever found its balance. Gremlins, and then Tremors. Those are it. A handful of millennium copycats like Eight Legged Freaks glanced the mixture while descending into spoof. Tremors 5 isn’t interested in spoofing its own lore. Instead, it adds more. Graboids don’t need evolutionary rules; they’re a cinematic creation proven unusually suited to sequel bait.

It’s a stubborn movie, if offering better coherency than the dreadful Tremors 3

This sequel is pedestrian, front-loaded with eye rolling foreshadowing while the middle quarter hosts a predictable body count. A full circle finish exists to justify the stuffy first act. It’s a stubborn movie, if offering better coherency than the dreadful Tremors 3 which looked like a discarded student film. This fifth round has some gloss, luckily covering a narrative insignificant enough to be cut free partway through. Anything left is arbitrary action. Fun, but arbitrary.

Tremors does not need creativity – it needs a magical combination of humor-laden characters and monster delirium. Locations, creatures, characters; they’re only new because marketing needs them to be.

Tremors 5 is then sunk by formula: Haul Gummer into an infestation to spout wacky science about Graboid’s changing anatomy, then shoot. Next time, he uses a bigger gun to shoot a bigger critter. Ho hum. With Gummer, Tremors becomes lonely. It’s all about the guns, originally a bit part which has forcibly supported four sequels. And, if Kennedy is the future as insinuated, Tremors is due to be buried. [xrr rating=3/5 label=Movie]

Roar @ 57:48

Roar @ 57:48

Before discussion of Tremors 5, it should be noted the movie features a handful of clips from the original Tremors. Despite two HD outings – one on HD DVD, the other on Blu-ray – those few seconds of footage are the best Tremors has looked in this era of 1080p. Universal kept the film’s grain intact for the first time, a novel mastering concept.

Into the new digital age, Tremors 5 is gorgeous even if the cinematography is plain. Clarity is enormous, capturing an exceptional level of scenery in full detail. Weeds and dry grass are plentiful. Close-ups are stunning in their definition, pouring out facial detail with an unusual consistency. Scenes with CG monsters are unaffected by any drop in resolution.

Cave interiors and a patch of nighttime fighting need the help of black levels. There’s no loss of depth. Inky and pure, blacks maintain a needed richness. Since much of Tremors 5 is drenched in sunlight, the film is usually powered by such natural light. Thick, heavy natural lighting is blissful.

Color correction is used to drape Tremors 5 with earthen tones. Browns and oranges add typical warmth. South Africa seems inviting despite the slight man-eating creature troubles. Flesh tones and primaries are bright aside from the timing. [xrr rating=5/5 label=Video]

Directional use in Tremors 5 is oddly specific. Sound effects are tightly placed, and motion is limited. Sounds will pop up definitively in a different channel to indicate transition. The effect works despite aggressive separation. An opening cave attack has Graboids jumping around their victim, screeching into various channels as they hone in on their kill. Front soundstage work is equal, used en masse during a nighttime garage assault.

LFE support is sizable, used to punch up gunfire, sell an explosion, and ramp up tremors caused by movement under the dirt. While Tremors 5 has a visual tracking gimmick to follow motion, low-end support is usually the first indicator of trouble. Rumble effects are deep if lacking the full bite of larger productions. [xrr rating=4/5 label=Audio]

Ten minutes of deleted/extended scenes are wise cuts. Outtakes, seven minutes worth, show a relaxed Jamie Kennedy which does not come through in the finished movie. Behind the Bloodlines is only an eight minute promo. [xrr rating=2/5 label=Extras]


Click on the images below for full resolution screen captures taken directly from the Blu-ray. Images have not been altered in any way during the process.

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