Trancers 5: Sudden Deth (1994)
Film review #486
Director: David Nutter
SYNOPSIS: Jack Deth is still stuck in another dimension on the planet of Orpheus following an accident while time travelling. He learns that the only way to get back home is to get the “tiamond” from an ancient castle of terror. However, the trancers that Deth previously defeated are out for revenge…
THOUGHTS/ANALYSIS: Trancers 5: Sudden Deth is a 1994 film and the fifth in the Trancers series. The film picks up right where the last film left off…but not before showing an eight minute recap of what happened in Trancers 4. Given that this is a Full Moon Features production, and they are notorious for padding out runtime, this shouldn’t be surprising. Trancers 4 and 5 were filmed back-to-back, so it’s no surprise that they flow almost seamlessly into one another, but the problem with that is they don’t really distinguish themselves from each other, and it stretches out the premise far longer than it needs to be. Throwing Jack Deth into a medieval fantasy world was bad enough, but making two whole films about it really prolongs the agony. The film also decides to resurrect the main villain from Trancers 4 less than twenty minutes in (less if you don’t count the re-cap) and with relatively little difficulty, which further cheapens any accomplishment of Deth defeating him in the first film.
This time around, Deth must travel to the adequately named “Castle of Unrelenting Terror” to acquire the Tiamond (Time + diamond…get it?) and use its powers to return to his own world. So the film has this “quest” as its main plot point, which really just involves some minor inconveniences along the way. There’s some attempted character development between Deth and Prospero, the son of villain Lord Calihan who turned against his Father, but its all a bit arbitrary. Nothing is really explained, and there’s very little attempt at world-building. The resurrection of Lord Calihan from a painting of him almost spontaneously raises questions that are never answered, and just replays the conflict of the previous film with very little else at stake. The rest of the cast is about the same, and offers nothing new, and most of the criticisms of the previous film still stands.
The Trancers franchise was never a blockbuster franchise, but deviating from its sci-fi Bladerunner/Terminator roots to this weird medieval setting has removed the series from anything that made it interesting. The only really interesting feature of the film again is Jack Deth himself, whose wise-ass character is still somewhat likeable and entertaining in his portrayal, although he is not given any of the decent one-liners or retorts that made him so. The setting really isn’t appropriate for the character of the franchise; maybe if they really pushed the “fish out of water” setup there could have been some funny moments with Jack’s no nonsense attitude, but as it stands there’s not much that this film contributes to the series, and a further slide down in the franchise’s quality.
Trancers III (1992)
Film review #475
Director: C. Courtney Joyner
SYNOPSIS: Jack Deth is trying to make a life for himself after being stranded in Los Angeles. However, he is timejacked to Los Angeles 2247, where it turns out a new wave of trancers have been devastating the future. Jack is assigned to go back to 2002, when the trancers were first developed, to wipe them out at the source…
THOUGHTS/ANALYSIS: Trancers III is a 1992 sci-fi film, and the third film in the Trancers series of films. In the beginning, we catch up with Jack Deth not doing too well for himself after the end of the last film, as he now works as a private detective that finds people cheating on their partners, while his own marriage is heading to a divorce. While out at work, he is kidnapped by a trancer and taken to the year 2247, where he finds out that a new wave of trancers has been created and is waging war against the ruling council that he formerly worked for. He is assigned the task of travelling to 2005, when these trancers were first developed, and wipe them out at the source. The Trancers films centre around the use of a technology in the future that allows a person to be sent back “down the line” (through time) to inhabit the body of their ancestor. This gimmick was explored with some consideration in the previous films, but isn’t really a part of this film; which is a shame because it was the only really unique thing about the films. These films feel very much like a cheap terminator/Blade Runner venture, and again, Trancers III is no different. With a runtime of just over seventy minutes, there’s not really much time to get anything complex up and running, and the film settles for a bunch of action scenes and mindless violence that never really forms into an overarching story. There is the plot concerning Jack’s attempt to stop the formation of the trancers army, but it never seems to come to the forefront of the film, and everything feels a bit disconnected.
The characters are all pretty familiar, with a mix of the characters from the previous films, and other characters which are very familiar action movie tropes. Jack Deth is still the grizzled rouge-ish hero from the previous films, with his inexplicable ability to have women much younger than him fawning over him. He’s a mix of action movie tropes and doesn’t really offer anything unique in that respect, although Tim Thomerson does a good job of over-acting the role, which is pretty good fun. The villain is Col. Daddy Muthuh (slight play on words of “Daddy Mother” if you hadn’t noticed), who has created this new trancer army, and acts as their parental figure (hence the awful pun name). He’s a fairly over-the-top and clichéd villain, but with a name like “Daddy Muthuh” alongside “Jack Deth,” how seriously can you really expect to take this film? The rest of the characters are again pretty typical, and the constant conflict between the women in Jack’s life makes a silly distraction, and constantly raises the question why they are attracted to this man.
Despite being a low budget production typical of Full Moon Entertainment, there’s some decent effort clearly put into some of the elements of the film. The sci-fi props look good and sturdy, and some of the fight scenes are decently choreographed, and display a fairly entertaining amount of action. It does feel like a departure from the noir-esque style of the first two into a more cut-and-paste action movie, and the film loses much of it’s uniqueness in that transition. There’s a few gory moments too that you would not have seen in the previous films. Trancers III has some decent qualities to it, in particular some of the aspects of its production and some of the acting, but there’s very little substance beyond what viewers will have seen previously. Obviously with characters named Jack Deth and Daddy Muthuh you should not be expecting a super serious story or experience, but the odd pacing, short runtime and the lack of a solid set-up amidst the confusing multiple times makes a lot of the film fall flat. It has some redeeming features to make it watchable, just don’t expect to be fully entertained or get anything out of it.