“I felt I had served my time as a puppet” -Hedy Lamarr
“I don’t see anyone walking around with a puppet on his hand in real life.” -Jodie Foster
“You’re not even a human being… You’re a puppet.” -Randy Jackson
Life is about finding ways to claim seemingly insignificant victories where you can find them. Omelets and eggs… lemons and lemonade… You know, shit like that. Finding those victories isn’t always as easy as people make it sound. Occasionally, life gives you more than you think you can handle. But when you’re getting hit hard from every angle, that’s when these tiny moments… these small victories are weighted with their most importance. Now, for some, these moments can be things like getting a phone call from a friend you haven’t heard from in a while. Or watching the stars on a clear night, and realizing it’s ok that the universe is overwhelmingly large. Things just make sense for that one peaceful moment. After watching Puppet Master 4, I NEEDED one of those moments. It was an endurance test of stupidity that made me want to not only stop watching these fucking movies, but stop writing about movies altogether. But then it happened. I had one of those tiny victories. You guys… I kind of liked Puppet Master 5.
Puppet Master 5 picks up immediately after the events of part 4. Rick, our protagonist, is in custody of the police after being suspected of involvement in the murders of his scientist colleagues and the slime ball who got killed trying to rip him off. The police are rightfully suspicious of his story, while his lawyer tries to get him released in the absence of formal charges. Eventually he is charged in the murders. Shortly after, a shady British dude arrives at the police station to bail Rick out. I wasn’t aware bail was an option in cases where someone is suspected of multiple murders, but it’s a movie, so whatever. The shady British dude is the one now in charge of Biotech after the various murders, and he asks Rick to tell him what really happened. Rick fills him in on the puppets and the evil GWAR universe, and the British guy’s reaction is understandably “this is the stupidest story I’ve ever heard!” He tells Rick that he is still too valuable to the project to be rotting away in jail, and makes arrangements to meet with him later to discuss this matter further.
In the least shocking development ever, shady British guy turns out to have ulterior motives. He’s making back room deals for defense contracts, and rounds up a sketchy group of thugs to break into Bodega Bay and steal the puppets so they can be studied for weapons research. Meanwhile, cheesy demon guy is in his low budget hell facsimile, and decides it’s time to cut the shit and get serious. He takes his last demon puppet, and puts his demonic essence into it, making some sort of super puppet.
The scaled back story really improves a movie like this
So now the pieces are in place, and the main action of the movie is underway. From here on out, the movie is kind of a tight little home invasion story, where Rick and the puppets have to defend themselves against not only shady British guy’s gang of idiots, but also super GWAR puppet. The scaled back story really improves a movie like this. No complicated origin story or introduction of bizarre supernatural elements. Just a dude defending himself against people coming into his house and taking his shit.
There are things about this entry I downright LOVED. Firstly, it picked up directly where the previous film left off. This is always appreciated by me. Also, while some of the ridiculous elements from the previous film remain, this film doesn’t get bogged down by introducing anything new to screw with the universe. Also, FUCKING TORCH IS BACK! I seriously don’t even care that his appearance isn’t explained, or that his absence in the last film isn’t acknowledged. It’s TORCH, and Torch is awesome. The biggest win however, is the fact that they scaled down the story and everything runs extremely smooth once they get out of the police station.
I’d be lying if I said everything was great, though. While I am happy to see Torch, and generally don’t care about the questions his appearance raises, there are a couple weird but minor problems it brings up. For one, it’s pretty clear that 4 and 5 were filmed back to back, so if Torch was in 5, he could have easily been in part 4. To make it even weirder, Torch was on the poster for part 4, but not in part 5. At the very worst, this is a nitpick with a net positive effect, so I’m not going to harp on it too much. Also, while most of the movie was pretty successful, the first bit in the police station was poorly paced, and the amount of flashback footage flirted with being ridiculous.
There really isn’t much in this to rant about. The action was decent. It had good atmosphere. While it didn’t do anything to FIX the continuity problems of the previous films with one arguable exception, it didn’t make them worse, which in this series, is downright miraculous.