It’s been a bit of a slog these last few weeks, particularly getting through Trancers 4: Jack of Swords. As terrible as that film was, Trancers 5: Sudden Deth is an improvement. Is it a good movie? No. But it’s better than both the third and fourth films, and makes it worth sticking it out through the whole series. (I understand that there’s a Trancers 6 out there, but I’m going to give that one a miss. Lacking Tim Thomerson, it’s not a proper Trancers film.)
The movie begins with an execrable voice-over introduction to remind you of all the horrible stuff from the previous movie. As it’s only been a week since I saw Trancers 4, I didn’t need it. Its value is in identifying all the various Shakespearean names they gave to the world and characters: Prospero, Caliban (from The Tempest), Oberon, etc. I don’t know why they gave the squeaky-voiced warrior-woman character the name Shaleen; it didn’t quite fit.
This film is about Jack Deth trying to go home to Earth, while Caliban, self-resurrected through his inexpertly-painted portrait, seeks to take over not just the world, but all of time and space. Jack needs to go to the Castle of Unrelenting Terror to retrieve the Tiamond (yes, with a “T”), which will send him to his proper universe. So it’s a traditional fantasy-style quest, complete with horses, brigands, and battle scenes.
Said battle scenes in this movie are far better than in the previous, which is weird because they obviously filmed the movies back-to-back. Nevertheless, I’ll take the improvement. Caliban displays remarkable telekinetic abilities, not unlike Force-telekinesis, though fifty times lamer. It looked like they just didn’t have the energy/budget to have the actors physically fight Caliban. A sub-plot with Lyra becoming a seer played out, though it didn’t advance the story. Prospero the good Trancer tried to get Jack Deth to recognize that all Trancers aren’t evil, making it seem as if Jack is some kind of a Trancer-racist (instead of someone who’s had everything taken from him by Trancers; go figure).
The dialogue was a lot funnier in this movie than the previous, and the tone lighter. This helped immensely, because it allowed Thomerson to once again make use of his skills as a straight man in a crazy world. One exchange I particularly liked:
Prospero: Killing is not always the answer.
Jack: It’s usually a pretty good guess.
That worked, as well as a number of other clever lines. Why didn’t we get this in the previous film?
If you’re looking for unrelenting terror in the Castle of Unrelenting Terror, you won’t find it. It was a missed opportunity for the characters not to comment upon this.
Anyway, the saga’s over. I’m glad it went out on a more quality note than #4, but it still didn’t quite match the first or second in fun. Still, if you’re in the mood to watch a movie about a dimension-hopping, time-traveling zombie-killer named Deth, you could do a lot worse than Trancers 5.