Tremors 3 (October 11/01)
The first Tremors movie, while not a tremendous success upon its original release, has gone on to become a bona fide cult hit. How else can you explain not one, but two straight-to-video sequels? The first sequel, which brought back original star Fred Ward, was a mild (but enjoyable) romp that didn't stray far from the original's formula of laughs and scares. Now, the graboids are back (and so are most of the cast from the first flick) in this wholly underwhelming sequel.
Michael Gross reprises his role as over-the-top survivalist Burt Gummer, while the town of Perfection (and the various citizens that reside within) return after a one-movie absence. Obviously, Kevin Bacon and Reba McIntire are nowhere in sight, but surprisingly enough, every other resident of Perfection is present and accounted for. This time around, Gummer and a new addition to the cast - a tour guide named Jack - must team up to fight the Graboids, while also keeping their town safe and sound (former townie Melvin returns as a money-grubbing developer that wants to turn Perfection into a series of "Ranchettes").
Tremors 3 is incredibly disappointing, especially after the second film managed to be so entertaining. And what's even more frustrating is the fact that it's difficult to nail down exactly why the film doesn't work. That same mix of comedy and violence is present, although the violence has been toned down to such an extent that the film could easily be rated PG (oh, wait a tick - it is rated PG). And the comedy doesn't really work here - most of it feels forced, as if the writers felt they had to throw in a punchline here and there.
No, what it really comes down to is the character of Burt Gummer. As much as I like Michael Gross (c'mon, he was Steven Keaton!), this is not a character that belongs center-stage in a movie. His gung-ho, take-no-prisoners antics are fine when you're only cutting to him every 20 minutes or so (and for a couple of minutes), but making this guy the main attraction is a big mistake. There are no other sides to him aside from Mr. Macho Man, and his constant kill-kill-kill attitude eventually wears us out. The filmmakers have tried to balance Burt by throwing in a few new characters, but it's not enough. What made the first film so special, above everything else, was the relationship between Kevin Bacon and Fred Ward. Their friendship was of a jocular, abrasive sort but we always knew they cared about each other. Burt is more of a loner.
Tremors 3 is somewhat entertaining, but only in a I-really-want-like-this-movie-because-it's-Tremors-for-pete's-sake kind of way. If you've never been a fan, this won't win you over. And if you are a fan, you'll enjoy seeing these characters again, but you'll inevitably wind up disappointed.