Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Pull the Strings!: Puppet Master- Axis of Evil

Dolls, dolls, dolls!  Where do they get those magnificent toys?  Full Moon continues to beat the dead horse that is the Puppet Master series to this day.  A bit earlier this year, they released the 9th film in the series.  Technically, it's the 10th film, but that requires you to acknowledge Puppet Master vs. Demonic Toys- I don't.  Furthermore, the film was made for the Sci-Fi Channel (pre-name change), so they don't own it.  Copyright laws are strange, huh?  This film attempts to fill in the gaps of the series, despite nobody requesting this.  Mind you, they don't fill in the gap between Retro Puppet Master and the other films, since I guess that train left the station when Guy Rolfe died in 2003.  You had no qualms about the first guy dying, but this one is too much!  I said in the last teaser that this is where the real headaches begin- I wasn't kidding.  Mind you, the 3rd film had a different answer for Toulon getting the formula, but that can be excused by saying that he just lied.  This time- not so much.  If your brain hurts, send a letter of complaint to David DeCoteau.  Get out your second, secret compartment for my review of...
The film begins with a grainy, establishing shot of a hotel.  Why is it grainy?  Because this is untouched footage from the original Puppet Master film from 1988.  That sure mixes well with your HD footage, guys!  Now here's the big thing: this film takes place in 1939.  No, really.  You see, the original film begins there and it's actually the fault of Puppet Master III for moving the timeline around.  Nearly 20 years later, they did nothing to fix this problem whatsoever.  It's all on you, DeCoteau!  Why does this make my brain hurt?  Well, you'll find out soon enough.  The film mixes the original film's opening- which is mostly a P.O.V. shot of a doll running back to Toulon's room- with some new footage of our hero in the basement making furniture.  Some shady men go to Toulon's room, but he hides the dolls in the wall and commits suicide.  So, to recap, Andre Toulon died in 1939, went back to Germany and was tormented by Nazis...after they were already chasing him.  This has to get worse, so the guy explains that he talked to Toulon- since the Toulon actor died nearly 20 years ago, it is off-camera- and he recapped the plot of Puppet Master 3.  So that happened already?  Aargh!  Anyhow, the guy finds the dolls and goes home to his mother.  His only problem: he can't fight in WWII, but his brother can't.
Where do I begin here?  The whole plot is about our heroes hating the Japanese and going off to war.  We didn't go to war until 1941- December 1941 at that!  I don't think of the folks over at Full Moon as History buffs, but a 10 year-old could tell you how wrong that is!  I'll try to get over this giant, gaping plot-hole for the sake of the review though.  Our hero finds the secret compartment containing the serum and figures out how to reanimate the puppets.  It's not clear why the stuff wore off when it has only been a short time since Toulon's death and Blade moving around, but it's a minor complaint.  He has a love interest who works in a factory that makes bombs for the war that we weren't in yet.  This leads to a bit where her boss yells at him for being late to their lunch date.  Two questions, movie.  First- why does he care about this?  Second- why does this character appear only once and for this purpose?  Trouble is afoot as actors who are stand-ins for the stock footage Nazis from Puppet Master 1 are looking for Toulon's dolls in the area, since that saves time in the film.  They team up with a 'dragon lady' who is a Japanese woman who passes for Chinese.  That's kind of clever, but mostly racist.  Their plan: to blow up the factory and cripple the war effort...that wasn't happening.  Sure- why not?!?
Since this is a fairly-new film, I'll be brief and mostly SPOILER-free here.  Our hero finds some evidence to convince his lady about the conspiring spies' plans.  Of course, in the process, he reveals that he has the dolls and sets the villains on the right path.  Since this is a fairly-predictable film, you can see where this is going.  The villains kill our hero's family and kidnap his lady.  Thankfully, he discovered a Ninja doll in a different, hidden compartment of the container.  Why did Toulon- a Frenchman- make a Ninja doll again?  Thankfully, this strange doll comes in handy for the final fight.  I won't SPOIL the results here, but I will say this.  Make a better ending, Full Moon!  You're just asking for trouble with the one you gave this movie.  The End.
This movie...is not that great.  The plot itself is pretty good at face value.  Of course, the whole thing is based on an amazingly-inaccurate view of World History!  Full Moon apparently wrote themselves into a corner here.  Mind you, the problems arise from a film made in 1988 and a film made around 1991.  This film was made in 2010, so it's not like you didn't have time to think about this!  You may think that I'm being picky here or trying to make a big deal out of nothing.  You may be right.  However, I think that this is symbolic of a bigger problem: laziness.  This is a major motion picture company (relatively-so, at least) and they do crap like this.  How did this pass their screening process?!?  If I can get past my rant, let me state that the film does have some decent production values.  Nothing really stands out though.  Given that this is the film meant to bring the series back after the debacles that were Puppet Master vs. Demonic Toys and Puppet Master: The Legacy, they needed to do more.  The film is alright, but the ending is a let-down and it just feels like another missed opportunity.  There's always Puppet Master: Axis of Evil- Part 2, I guess.
Next up, we come back to the film that started it all.  Why is it fourth in the order exactly?  Stay tuned...


  1. Every time Band and his crew leaves a film with a cliffhanger like this, they haven't followed up.

    Maybe this time it will be different. Although I wouldn't hold my breath....

  2. I was completely out on this one.. I waited so long for a true sequel, and it completely disappointed in every way imaginable.

  3. All I have to say is this: Ninja Puppet.

    That sums it up quite well.