Tremors 5 is a 2015 action comedy about two guys on safari in South Africa. It Stars Michael Gross, Jamie Kennedy, a host of “Oh yeah, that guy” in the African film market probably, and some surprisingly good creature CGI.
T5 went unreviewed by critics on Rotten Tomatoes and pulled in a 42% from viewers. Doubt it even showed in domestic theaters, I caught it on Netflix.
Michael Gross is still living the Survivalist lifestyle in Nevada and is self producing a documentary series called the Survivalist. Jamie Kennedy is his dirt bike riding camera man who just replaced the current cameraman in the opening scene. Michael Gross is unimpressed with Jamie Kennedy and has immediate concerns about his capability.
Any further contention is cut short by the arrival of “Some African Guy” who wishes to hire Michael Gross to deal with an ass blaster (more on this later) problem in South Africa.
On a provisional agreement that Burke will pay the production costs of “The Survivalist” for three years; Michael with Jamie in tow accept the job and fly out to South Africa.
Once in Africa the team sets up base camp at a wildlife preserve where we meet the Safari Guide, Lady Veterinarian, Lady Vet’s Daughter, The Pilot and the Black Guy that Doesn’t Die which is how you know it’s a comedy and not a horror.
Let’s talk about the Ass Blaster in the room. The principle antagonist of the Tremors franchise is the Graboid. It is a giant subterranean carnivore with snakes for tongues, if you have not seen the original Tremors you should go do that. It is excellent. As the series continued the mythology of the Graboid evolved and the life cycle is thus.
Graboid gives birth to Shrikers, which are a land based creature that reproduces asexually very quickly. After a time they morph into Ass Blasters which are a flying version of the shriker and the distinct name comes from the fact that they invoke a chemical reaction that shoots fire out of their hindquarters and produces thrust for more of a power assisted glide than true flight. Ass Blasters then lay eggs which hatch into Graboids.
Once this film gets going it worked surprisingly well. After a bit of hamfisted forshadowing by Lady Vet’s Daughter, some “Saw that Coming” foreshadowing by Burke, and a completely pointless “Let’s watch an African Ass Blaster hunting dance” scene it kicks off and keeps going.
For our main plot line I really have to hand it to Michael Gross and the film as they both take his “Burt Gummer” character very seriously. In Tremors 1 & 2 he was “That
Crazy Eccentric Guy with all of the Guns” but here he is a serous graboid survivalist because he has survived some serious shit involving graboids. Though he does get to cut loose in one scene where he is suffering from some heat stroke.
He has the appropriate gear for handling all three phases of the graboid menace, he correctly predicts behaviors and is able to back track the monsters based on prior experience. And yet when the graboids offer two new elements he is still suitably surprised and yet recovers well. He even correctly predicts the bad ends for Safari Guide and Burke who are actually in this to procure a graboid egg for sale and profit. But the way he does it: You are being dumb, you are going to get yourselves killed, it’s ok though I’ll be fine because I already know how this story goes.
In fact safe for the aforementioned Safari Guide and Burke, everyone in the film proves to be capable even if lacking Michael’s specialized knowledge. Even the Lady Vet’s Daughter failed to annoy me; and children are usually a quick pass to fail town.
In the end, Michael gets his Graboid and I sit around anxiously awaiting Tremors 6: China
The start to finish subplot which was obvious to everyone other than Michael Gross’ character involved Jamie Kennedy being his son from a brief fling 40’ish years ago. Considering his wife left him after the first movie and no other cast member returned past Fred Ward in part 2 then sure, why not add a familial connection.
This is usually hackney but for some reason here it worked for me. I think it is the dichotomy of the two characters appearing as an odd couple but at the core they are the same which is sort of how parents and children end up in reality. Good for you screen writers.
Past that plot is paring off Lady Vet, the “Love Interest” character. First off she has three characters pining away, the two local employees and Jamie Kennedy. Jamie gets two cheesy pick up lines in and one extended shared scene with her then he is off on the main plotline. And one of the employees dies. By process of elimination there is the Surviving Black Guy who really does seem like a swell fellow. But when the graboids attack Lady Vet gets serious.
Which leaves our love hopeful to just go all out in keeping her daughter alive. Apparently he had been pining away for the Lady Vet for some time and I can say that I have never put as much effort into anything in my life as he put into keeping that little girl alive. And even though both times he had to step up and fend off graboid it was Lady Vet that ultimately saved them both; I still think he gets points for effort.
In the end Rotten Tomatoes 42% is probably fair though I would personally rate it higher. And it is also my 2nd favorite of the series behind the original Tremors. Go ahead and give it a look on Netflix.