Saturday, January 10, 2015

Franchise Review: Retro Puppet Master (1999)

Though I've had to take a bit of a break from the Puppet Master series, I sure haven't forgotten about it. We have now arrived to film number seven, which means that there are still three more sequels to go (I think I'm going to forgo covering the crossover films, at least for now). I was sort of excited for Retro Puppet Master because, as the title and synopsis told me, the plot was going back in time again to focus on Toulon and his beginnings as the Puppet Master. It's not completely satisfying, though.

Back in Cairo, a sorcerer is being chased by followers of Sutekh because he has stolen the secret of life, he dispels of the bad guys and escapes to Paris, while Sutekh raises three mummies to chase him. In 1902 Paris, a young Andre Toulon is doing puppet shows at a local theater, and a pretty girl named Elsa (his future wife) becomes interested in him. Elsa and Toulon save the sorcerer from two goons, and as he lays dying, he teaches Toulon the secret of life.

Damnit, not this Sutekh bitch again. I thought we were done with him. I don't like this guy, not sure why, but at least there are none of those stupid little spiny demons this time around. I do like Toulon, even though he's younger and has an annoying accent and is not Guy Rolfe. Anywho, the movie is set up like a frame story where the older Toulon is still in hiding from the Nazis and he comes upon a piece from one of his older puppets, and starts to reminisce to Blade and the others about his beginnings.

One problem with this is that the method for bringing about life is entirely different from how previous films established it. There's no glowing green liquid that is injected into the puppets, but more of a ritual with a simple incantation and poof! Living puppets. This all actually makes way more sense for the secret's ancient Egyptian origins, actually, so this didn't really bother me. What did bother was kind of how pointless this movie was. I mean, we pretty knew all this stuff already, right? And what little details we didn't know don't end up being all that interesting so there was no point. Seeing Elsa and Toulon being all cute together was nice, though.

The action doesn't really pick up until the 45-minute mark, when the mummies come after the sorcerer and end up killing all of Toulon's puppeteers. After that, the film is sort of like Puppet Master 3, where Toulon - using the souls of his dead puppeteer friends to animate the retro puppets - goes all revenge-y on the Sutekh mummies. Their first encounter with them is not at all that exciting, though a little amusing because of how lame it is. And when the mummies have been defeated, Sutekh just raises them again anyway. Bullshit! It's not until they kidnap Elsa that Toulon finally gets rid of them in another terribly disappointing fight sequence - on a train of all places, too!

Oh, and those mummies - holy shit, are they annoying. First of all, they don't actually look like mummies, for those of you that might have been excited about that. They are disguised as just some regular dudes with suits, hats, and glasses and their voices have a strange reverb thing going on. Also, for some stupid ass reason, they all have to repeat each other's lines of dialogue whenever possible.

As for the retro versions of the puppets... eh, I didn't really like them. Puppets that get the retro treatment are Blade, Pinhead, Six Shooter, and two new ones, Dr. Death and Cyclops. Retro Tunneler is given the name of Drill Sergeant which is, I'm sorry, a WAY better name than Tunneler. The designs on all of them were cool, and I liked the subtle differences that were made. The retro versions might even be better designed than the modern versions of the puppets - but things just aren't the same. These puppets have the souls of different people and you can tell that they have different personalities than the previous films.

All in all, I was somehow more bored than usual with this installment. It's good, but feels a bit unnecessary most of the time. I don't like Sutekh. I think the last few films have to do with the Nazi involvement and that sounds so much more interesting. Here's hoping (as usual)!

1 comment:

  1. I really don't get the appeal of prequels. I mean, they can be good, but nine times out of ten you end up feeling like most of the good ideas could have been used in sequels.