Tremors 5: Bloodlines full movie review - As an enormous fan of the "Tremors" series, "Bloodlines" is a wonderful and very pleasant surprise! One of the best of the franchise!
It's been years since we've last heard from good, old Burt Gummer. But thankfully, if this film is any indication... he's still got it!
After years of false-starts and rumors (and a title change to boot), it's finally arrived- "Tremors 5: Bloodlines"- the fifth entry in the cult-film franchise that began back in 1990. Featuring the return of Michael Gross's iconic character Burt while injecting new blood with new faces both on-screen and behind the camera, this sequel has a lot to live up to. And thankfully, for long-time fans of the series, it will most definitely deliver.
I was so pleasantly surprised viewing this film for the first time earlier tonight. Much like returning to a place you fondly remember from your past or running into an old friend you haven't spoken to in some time... this re-visit to the series drips of nostalgic thrills and good, old-fashioned enjoyment that makes you remember just how much fun this series is.
We once again join Burt Gummer, who is now capitalizing on his experiences with a sort-of reality show about his survivalist lifestyle. He's soon approached by thrill-seeker Travis Welker (Jamie Kennedy), an amateur filmmaker who wants to help Gummer "expand his brand" and joins him as a cameraman. (Think of Travis as a surrogate for the character Grady from "Tremors II"... Though for the most part, I found Welker a better sidekick when he's not making cheesy jokes) Soon after, the two are dragged into a new adventure- to hunt a new strain of highly-evolved "Blasters" (Well... you know what they're called, but IMDb probably won't let me post it) that are ravaging a small area of South Africa.
However, a series of twists and turns will bring Burt and Travis face-to-face with new threats unlike any they have dealt with before.
To get it out of the way, there are a few problems with the film. A few jokes early on fall flat, and I think it's fair to say that trying to shoehorn in another comedic sidekick in Kennedy was probably not the best move. While I didn't hate his character by any means, a lot of people have been complaining, and I think that after characters like Grady in the second film or "Desert Jack" in the third... trying the "silly sidekick" yet again was a bad move.
And the other big problem I had was that the pacing is a bit out of whack later on. Particularly during the third act. Some plot-points seems to resolve themselves too quickly while others are too dragged out. A little more fine-tuning to the editing (particularly in how scenes are intercut with one-another) would have helped, but it wasn't anything too bad. Just a little wonky.
But those are peanuts compared to the bigger picture, which is that this is VERY FUN film and is far better than a fourth direct- to-video sequel has any right to be. This is definitely the film fans have been waiting for. It continues the traditions of the franchise (from the inclusion of a new comedic sidekick to the fact the film introduces introduces new evolutionary traits to the "Graboid" family) while introducing new ideas, a fascinating new setting and building off of what's come before.
The highlight of course is Burt. Michael Gross simply IS Burt. The film expertly shows off the sides of the character we know and love, and lovingly exploits his "delightfully quirky" persona to sheer perfection. Whether it be supplying us with wonderful belly-laughs or thrilling us with great action and problem-solving, Burt's back in a big, bad way. And Gross is an absolute joy to behold on screen.
I was also very surprised by the quality of the visual direction courtesy Don Michael Paul, who is mostly known for his work on cheesy, direct-to-video and direct-to-TV sequels. I haven't been the biggest fan of his work (in fact, a lot of it is, well... bad), but here he shines, and I think it's clear he has a certain affection for the franchise. His camera-work, sense of composition and sense for scene- building pay off wonderfully, and I would say this is easily not only the most visually-striking film in the series... It's also arguably the best-directed.
Also generally quite good is the script, which nails a great mixture of horror and comedy. There were some genuinely well-written and executed sequences of terror (one stand-out sequence involving a bridge is probably the best "intense" scenes in the whole series for a few expert scares it employs), and it's balanced perfectly with just enough moments of humor. While I do think it's sometimes too serious for its own good, it's definitely a great effort from the new writers and a good "modernization" of the concept.
To top it off, the casting of secondary characters is fantastic (I now have a giant crush on Pearl Thusi), the music is perfect for the material, and even the digital effects are great. Which is saying a lot, because the digital effects in the previous films have been almost universally terrible. Here, the effects are HUGELY improved, and darned-near big-screen cinema quality. (Heck, a few scenes of the Graboids and Blasters are better than some effects I've seen in cinemas lately.)
Honestly, I'm thrilled by how well this turned out. I wasn't necessarily expecting much (especially as the first entry of the franchise without involvement from series creators Brent Maddock and S.S. Wilson), but it paid off big-time. And it has me hoping that it's successful enough to warrant a sixth film... because this breathed new life into the series.
Strictly as a fan, I give "Tremors 5: Bloodlines" a very-good 8. It won't impress series newbies, but for those who have loved the franchise from the beginning, it's a great new entry and one of the best sequels.