Tremors 4: The Legend Begins (2004)

Tremors 4: The Legend Begins (2004)

A Revolution Has Begun…

It’s 1889 and the town of Rejection has a problem – workers are being killed off in it’s silver mine. So the miners decide to stop working and abandon the town, leaving it with no source of income. With no hope in sight, the owner of the mine, Hiram Gummer, travels down to Rejection to put a stop to what he thinks is someone messing around and trying to force him out of the mine. But unfortunately the problem is a lot worse – underground monsters have been devouring the miners and they’re still hungry.

 

Do they not know when to kill off a series on a high? Not content with sucking what little shred of dignity the original had with two pretty poor sequels, series creators S.S. Wilson and Brent Maddock go back in time to string out what is yet another pretty dismal sequel to 90s monster masterpiece, Tremors. Instead of making another sequel with the same routine as the last two (same desert settings, new variety of monster, same old scenarios of people being trapped, etc), this one goes back to a time long before the original for a prequel where the characters don’t know how to handle the ‘graboids’ and they are introduced to the monsters for the first time.

The interesting idea to shift the film back into the Wild West at least makes Tremors 4: The Legend Begins the most original of the follow-ups. Unfortunately the rule of sequels having diminishing budgets strikes and any decent ideas that this may have had on paper turn out to become rather disappointing. We don’t see the monsters nearly as much as we should and there’s nowhere near enough overall creature attack action, especially when they’re nowhere to be seen for the first third of the film. One of the tiring things about the sequels was how easy it was to kill the original worm graboids so it was at least nice to see them being hard to kill again. And at least with the worm monsters being back as the main threat, we are spared the copious amounts of poor CGI monsters that dogged the other sequels. The puppets and model work is back so there’s a ‘real’ feel to proceedings. CGI is used in a few places but with the action being back in the ground instead of having monsters running around buildings, the series gains a bit of its edge back.

The graboids seem to have been shafted into the background though and Michael Gross has become the central focus of these films. I’m not knocking the guy because he has been the best thing about the sequels but he still shouldn’t be the focus of the film, the monsters should be. There areonly so many times these Tremors sequels can find funny ways to have him better himself with his use of weaponry and they scraped the barrel in the last sequel. His character Burt Gummer was only a supporting character in the original but still had some great lines and moments. Seeing how popular he was, they made him more of a main character in the first sequel and then as the main character in the third. Knowing how much he loves guns and is obsessed with not running out of ammo, they decided to strip all that made him fun and put him as his own granddad who doesn’t know how to use a gun at all. It’s quite humorous watching some of the references to lines from the other films (“I feel I was denied critical, need-to-know information”) and it is a refreshing change to see him as something other than a gun nut. Unfortunately that’s what made his character so entertaining.

Also funny is the addition of Billy Drago’s gunslinger character. The people of Rejection think they can defeat the monsters in the same way as many of the old westerns did by hiring out some renegades to take on the bad guys. Needless to say it doesn’t turn out how they would have anticipated.

 

With a lack of monsters and therefore an overall lack of action, Tremors 4: The Legend Begins seems to have turned full circle in the Tremors series and now Michael Gross is the main attraction, not the underground beasties. That’s not entirely bad since Gross’ character is still as funny as he ever was, it’s just I’d rather see the series go back to more horror-based roots like the original instead of completely tongue-in-cheek straight-to-video crap like this.

 

 ★★★★☆☆☆☆☆☆ 

 

 

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