MAY 13, 2009
Since the days of Sega Genesis, I’ve always liked it when a game would have you find items and make a weapon out of it. The Home Alone game had you make your own traps, the No Escape game had you make your own bomb and other items, etc. I don’t know why I always like this aspect of gaming, but I’ve actually bought games just to try out their building mechanic (the newest Banjo Kazooie game, which lets you build your own weapon-based cars!). This applies to movies too (Real Men, when Jim Belushi makes that gun out a tin can and some nails or whatever? Awesome!), so it’s not much of a surprise that my favorite part of Tremors 3: Back To Perfection is when Burt and the others run around a junkyard looking for parts to make a potato gun. If they ever make a Tremors videogame, they should have a level based on this, especially if they want to reach the lucrative "BC" market.
So it’s good that I like such things, because the movie as a whole is a bit of a dud. For starters, it’s almost the exact same movie as Tremors 2, in that some new Graboids come around, our hero from the last movie teams up with a new guy who is looking to make a quick buck to take them out, which they do, easily, only to discover that there is a new form of Graboid that they don’t quite know how to deal with yet. Along the way, Burt makes lots of jokes about what a war-crazy nut he is, people stand on rocks, we see that the town cashes in on their notoriety, some government types come along, etc, etc. Even for a DTV movie, it’s pretty goddamn lackluster, and that’s even more of a crime when you consider that it’s from the same guys who made the enjoyable last film.
Another pretty damaging aspect is the CGI. It’s fucking terrible throughout, with the Shriekers and the new things (they fly) just sort of floating around when they walk (though at least they have shadows) instead of having any real weight. There’s also a scene where an old-school big-ass Graboid pops out of the ground, and when he goes back down there’s no hole in the ground, because the CGI compositor guy didn’t bother to think things through.
Speaking of the ground, why is it that these things never really “break” the ground that pops up as they tunnel along? Everything always goes back neatly in place. You’d think there’d be some pretty torn up landscape in this place by now.
Also, and this would annoy me even if I liked the movie: why do these goddamn movies keep getting longer? The whole concept of DTV is built around the idea that they are “less” than their theatrical counterparts, so why is it that the 96 minute original got a 100 minute sequel, and now this one is 105 minutes? That’s ten more minutes of less impressive visuals, acting, story, humor, etc.
Well, at least the humor works at times. I loved the comic book gag at the beginning, with a new comic called Graboids vs Shriekers on the stands. And someone actually calls them “Tremors” only to be corrected, heh. Burt’s gun-crazy ways aren’t as amusing anymore, so thankfully it’s kept to a minimum (likely the result of the fact that he’s the hero now, not the comic relief - Fred Ward’s character has gone off and built an amusement park). And while I’m not a fan of toilet humor in movies, I have to at least respect the audacity to introduce the idea that the monsters can fly only once they’ve farted.
And, you know, it’s still a Tremors movie. There’s something appealing about the concept as a whole that kept me at least mildly charmed by what was on the screen. A lot of the secondary characters from the original are back in this one (a total of five characters, all played by their original actors, as opposed to just two in Tremors 2), so that’s nice. One of them even has a surprising death that bummed me out, which is sad but also good - it’s the only death in the film that carried any weight. But besides that character, and Burt, the others are sort of kept on the sidelines during the monster scenes. Again, the lack of a population sort of takes away the suspense factor, because you know none of our three leads are going to die, so the movie would have benefited from putting the others in danger more often. But like I said, the movie is as rote as you can get, so that would have required putting some effort into it.
The DVD’s only feature is the “Universal Spotlight on Location”, a bland EPK thing that I have seen enough on Uni’s other DVDs, so I felt no need to bother even putting it on as background noise. As Mitch Hedberg once said, “I ate one anchovy, and that is why I did not eat two anchovies.”
What say you?