Riders in the Sky-Chapter 4Chapter 4-Justice vs. VengeanceRiders in the Sky-Chapter 4 by T-R-E-V
Ghost Rider did a double take of his surroundings. Nothing. However, the Rider could still sense Lilith's presence, even if she appeared to be nowhere in sight. He called out to her, tauntingly.
“Alright, Little Girl. Your distractions came and went, so how about you show yourself and we can get back to our tussle from earlier, eh? Unless you're afraid of lil' ol' me...”, he teased.
Her voice then came from everywhere, and yet again, nowhere. “You couldn't do it the easy way, could you? You had to keep questioning everything, and not see what I had to offer. FINE. If that's the way it's going to be, so be it. But I'm not finished with you yet. Before you think you can ever rest easy again, I will have sent all of my children to your doorstep, until you're MINE”, she threatened.
“But I can only be yours if I'm tainted by your malignant poontang, isn't that right?”, he inquired. “That's how you conduct your busines
Minor spoilers below
In what probably proved to be a shock to many viewers, casual and fan alike, the nostalgia wave of 2015 was continually maintained once more with another returning franchise, this time that of the creature-feature series “Tremors”, which following the original film's debut 25 years ago in 1990, has enjoyed a lucrative following with direct-to-video sequels, and a brief TV series, launched during the mini “Tremors Boom” that the third film initiated in the early 2000's.
While “Tremies” like myself enjoy all the films in the series, more picky viewers found things to dislike in the third and fourth entries, namely the third devolving into borderline self parody (with the latest incarnation of the films' monsters being dubbed “Assblasters” in said entry, which is quite a ridiculous moniker), as well as the fourth tackling the Sci-Fi Western concept, which given how much of an acquired taste the Western became as a genre in the 80's and 90's following said genre's rapid decline in the 70's, makes said film type even more of an acquired taste, since Sci-Fi Westerns have never been more than cult classics at best, no matter how good they actually are. (“The Valley of Gwangi” (1969) & the more recent “Cowboys & Aliens” (2011) spring to mind)
So bearing these thoughts in mind, the added information that the original creative team of Nancy Roberts, S.S. Wilson, & Brent Maddock (the latter two having directed some of the sequels) wouldn't be involved in the making of the latest entry, the fifth in the series, raised legitimate concerns from the fan-base. But in a surprising move by Universal, they've given one of their more cult-like franchises a “Jurassic World” style upgrade, and have employed writers and a director (Don Michael Paul of “Lake Placid: The Final Chapter”) who not only fit the tone of the series perfectly, but also appear to be fans, given their respect for all the previous films in the franchise, most notably the first two.
“Tremors 5: Bloodlines” was originally going to be titled “Tremors 5: The Thunder from Down Under”, and would have featured the icon of the series, survivalist monster-hunter Burt Gummer (Michael Gross) once again teamed with the memorable duo of Val & Earl from the original film (Kevin Bacon & Fred Ward respectively) hunting Graboids and Assblasters down in Australia. While that basic premise was kept for the final film, Bacon (easily the most famous and successful actor associated with the series) & Ward clearly couldn't be persuaded to come back, and somewhere along the line the setting was changed from Australia to the equally exotic South Africa.
The opening titles and credits use the same font as the first "Tremors"; Nice touch.
The final product sees Burt being accompanied by a tech-savvy associate, Travis Welker (Jamie Kennedy), who claims he can make Burt a better brand, as since the events of the third film and the TV series, Burt has starred in a reality show based on his adventures as well as his paranoid survivalist lifestyle. Before this new venture can began though, the duo are recruited by a Mr. Van Wyk of the South African Wildlife Federation to capture an Assblaster running amok in the countryside. Upon arrival, Burt and Travis soon find their host is not what he seems, and their prey has become even deadlier, due partially to their new surroundings.
Burt on his reality show, "The Survivalist with Burt Gummer".
With the creatures' life-cycle having been firmly established in the third film as being finite, there was no room really to explore a potential fourth element, one reason why the fourth film became a prequel set in the Old West. So the question is, where did that leave the series to go to next? The TV show presented the creatures in various odd situations (a pampered Assblaster, “tame” Shriekers, and a Graboid believed to be an extraterrestrial by a zealot to name a few) and added the addition of a chemical agent developed during the Cold War that created biological weapons from the mixing of different organisms' DNA, spawned from a secret lab hidden in the Nevada valley the series' main monsters made their debut. While it would have been interesting to see “Mixmaster” make a return in the film series, the new creative team opted to show us a more evolved & efficient variation of the critters.
Since everything in Africa is supposed to be “bigger and badder” (a notion that would have still held true had the Australian setting been retained), the Graboids have followed suit by not only being bigger and leaner (“Super Diggers”, or Inkanyamba to the locals, who secrete an acid from their mandibles to help them break through dirt), but in their life-cycle evolutions as well, here only represented by the Assblasters (Impundulu (Lightning Bird) to the locals), who have taken on a gnarly, Lovecraftian appearance. The idea here is that the Shriekers are an unnecessary stage for the African variety of Graboids to go through in terms of efficiency, so they skip ahead right to the ABs, the flight capable egg-layers. But if they had appeared, the Shriekers probably would have looked like Ethereal Marauders from “Dungeons & Dragons”.
The new Assblaster. Very Lovecraftian.
Natalie Becker as one of the paleontologists who finds a "Super Digger" skeleton. Later proves to be one of the most attractive people eaten by a Graboid.
Basis for the African Shrieker, perhaps?
And speaking of eggs, the title of the film comes into play here, as the African Graboids are desperate to protect their bloodline from extinction, so the ABs are essentially like Praetorian Xenomorphs here, bigger and stronger than the classic AB, and therefore more deadly. And the two Graboids we see in the film serve as Queens after a fashion (or at least one of them is referred to in such a manner), with the added bonus of their tentacles now being able to detach and go after prey on their own, ultimately fulfilling the role they were thought to have had in the original film as the “snake things”. Though there's no major practical effects seen, the CGI is pretty damn good for a straight-to-DVD feature, especially in the Assblasters.
Super Digger Graboid pulls a Shamu as it prepares to make lunch out of someone.
Practical versions of the Super Digger's new detachable tentacles.
With those intriguing critter elements out of the way, the casting and tone of the movie are probably its main highlights. While “Back to Perfection” sorta had that feeling of comedy mixed with sci-fi/horror that the first two had, it slowly dissipated as the film went on, and the fourth film, “The Legend Begins”, while adding some heartfelt moments of dialogue, felt like a Hallmark-level Western where worm monsters suddenly appeared. “Bloodlines” restores a sense of witty fun not seen in as impressive a form since the second film, and even then, “Aftershocks” is still somewhat superior in being able to maintain the Horror element of the first movie, at least for a short while. “Bloodlines” makes some noticeable references to such genre classics as “Jurassic Park” (as well as one of its sequels, “JPIII”), and most surprisingly to “Pacific Rim”, in certain bits of dialogue anyway. Michael Gross is still in fine form as Burt Gummer, but unfortunately Travis fairs as only a slightly better version of Grady Hoover from the second movie, and it's his presence that helps make the comparisons between this film and the second even more clear. But there is an amusing connection between him and Burt, though pulled right out of “Indiana Jones & the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull”, and further fulfilling the meaning in the “Bloodlines” title.
Burt and Travis may have a connection that is more than being simple professional partners, connecting back into the title of "Bloodlines".
After being left in the cage intended for an Assblaster following the reveal of their host's true intentions, Michael Gross gives Burt a "Nicolas Cage" moment as he deals with becoming delirious from heat exhaustion. One of the best scenes in the movie.
The two best cast additions are in our new female lead, Dr. Nandi Montabu (Pearl Thusi), and she winds up being the BEST female character in the series, as she's essentially the first sexy badass the series has offered us, even if there is some potentially overly PC statements to be made in her being an ebony female who puts some of her male co-stars to shame. Thankfully, it never comes to that. The other notable character is Mr. Bravers (Nick Roberts), the boozy and earthy helicopter pilot who flies Burt & Travis into Africa, and later assists in the battle.
Pearl Thusi (Top) as Dr. Nandi Montabu, a sexy leading lady who can take care of business.
Nick Roberts (Bottom) as Mr. Bravers, the boozy yet wise helicopter pilot who helps Burt & Travis when they're in a pickle.
While there's lots of other great bits to point out, including the reverence to all the previous films in the series through various nods, the best thing to say about “Tremors 5” is that it was FAR better than I expected it to be. But perhaps that had to do with the eleven year gap between it and the previous film in the series, which allowed it time to gestate for awhile and become something great, which I truly think it did. If you liked the first two films in the series the best, then 5 is almost guaranteed to be your third favorite, and if you like the franchise in general, you'll probably like it anyway. So in the end, I give it a four out of five.
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