Sunday, November 28, 2010

Pull the Strings!: Puppet Master V

We're in the home stretch, people!  After Puppet Master 4 was released, this film was practically in post-production.  With a mere six months between them, these two films feel like one, long story.  Mind you, the run-times for both films are just over an hour, so they basically are one, normal film!  It's kind of like how I mentioned in my review of the Trancers series that all 6 films were equal to the theatrical cuts of LoTR: The Fellowship of the RingThe Two Towers.  That's not even getting into the Director's Cuts either.  Back to the subject at hand, this film brings back the previous two leads, as well as the puppets.  No new puppets this time, so why bother?  Seriously, every film introduces a new one- save for this one.  That's the inherit problem in filming movies back-to-back like this: they feel the same.  Subspecies II ended abruptly in order to finish the story in Subspecies III, while Trancers IV crapped out an ending...only to ruin it for Trancers V.  Will this film suffer the same fate or will it buck the trend?  Get out your tiny police stations for my review of...
The film begins with about five minutes of recapping the last film.  If you want to make a two-part film, label it as such!  When you just make two films together, you force yourself to do a stupid recap segment for anyone coming on-board for the first time.  Side note: who would go see Puppet Master 5 as their first entry to series exactly?  Anyhow, our hero is being questioned for the murders of the two scientists from the early part of the last film.  See, I told you that it wouldn't matter until now.  Despite him being nowhere near the building, they're convinced that he's guilty.  They try and rationalize it by saying that he must have sent robots out to do the deed.  As a bonus, they have video footage of her attack, yet the demon puppet is just off-frame.  Of course, that works out so well for you!  He has set free temporarily by his new boss, who has plans of his own.  He wants the secret that Toulon hid as well.  Meanwhile, our hero meets up with his girlfriend, who is looking over the psychic lady from the last film.  Apparently, she's in a coma of sorts.  I'm not really sure why, but whatever.  The evil monster from the last film also rears his ugly, puppet head.  He uses his magical powers to channel his spirit through her and into a new doll.  Yes, this movie is built around a single, killer doll.  You guys ever hear of escalation?
Back at the hotel, our hero is not having a good time.  It may have something to do with a secret meeting that his new boss has with...the Bartender from Feast?  Yeah, he's in the movie.  This marks the second, random film that he's shown up in.  You're worse than MadTV's Michael McDonald!  The people send in some flunkies to steal the formula from the hotel.  Gee, you're clearly in this movie just to be killed.  I guess they couldn't just kill Jerk Boyfriend again.  Sure enough, these guys exist to pad out the run-time by wandering around for a bit before being killed by the demon puppet.  The now-heroic dolls face off with the puppet, but find success is not as easy.  Their tiny bullets and blades are no match for it's...CG lightning.  So, you're not only a demonic God from another dimension attacking the real world with a puppet, but now you can shoot lightning?  Alright then.  The puppets retreat to fight another day.  Unfortunately, Toulon didn't stash another puppet in the walls, so back-up is not going to come.  Ruh roh.
As the battle presses on, all hope seems to be lost.  Fortunately, a Deus Ex Machine arrives in the form of Andre Toulon.  Despite him not really presenting much power before- save the 'head appearing on the puppet' trick from the last film- he has it now.  He leads his puppets in spirit for one last attack, where they manage to whittle down the demon doll's body.  He summons a portal to escape to live and fight another die. He's stopped by Toulon, however, who expends his last bit of energy to stop him.  The puppets finish him off and save the day.  I guess the monster is dead or something- it's not really clear.  Toulon does the 'head appearing on the doll' trick one more time to officially christen our hero as the new Puppet Master.  His adventures would continue on for years to come.  No, not really.  This is The Final Chapter, after all.  The End.
This just kind of 'eh.'  The plot is simple enough: the monster is back for another attempt at victory. It could work...but it just feels like a rehash.  If you want to view this as one story (and thus, one film), the first film is basically the First and middle of the Second Act.  They've turned back the enemy for the time being, but it's not a final victory.  It's only in the remaining half and Third Act that the story is actually resolved.  Do you want to watch a half film?  On top of that, it wasn't exactly a great first half of a film to begin with.  The stop-motion work is good, as usual.  Like in the other film though, it's not all that great.  It doesn't match up to the better moments in the series that we've already seen.  That's what happens when you make 9 films though- some of them just aren't as good.  Honestly, the biggest problem for the movie is this: the lack of merit.  Why does it exist?  It would be one thing if it was billed as Puppet Master 4- Part II.  As a separate film, it has the old villains, the old actors and the old sets.  More importantly, they don't introduce a new puppet.  What's a Puppet Master film without a new doll to shill?  Sorry, but you're the middle child in this movie family.
Next up, we wrap the Puppet Master series with Curse of the Puppet Master.  Naturally, it follows a film subtitled The Final Chapter.  Stay tuned...

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