The graboids return in this fun sequel to the brilliant creature feature that was the first movie. Fred Ward and Michael Gross are also back, with the latter being the only main player, to my knowledge, to star in every movie in the franchise, to date.
Earl Bassett (Ward) hasn't gone on to any great success after the events of the first movie. That looks set to change, however, when he's hired by a Mexican oil company that finds itself with a major graboid problem. Earl ends up working with a young man, Grady (Chris Gartin), who is determined to help both of them earn as much money as possible. These graboids can make them a tidy sum, and there's even more available if they can catch one or two alive. Knowing how helpful he can be, Earl calls in Burt Gummer (Gross), and the hunting begins in earnest. But these graboids aren't exactly the same as the last creatures that Earl and Burt encountered. They're about to witness a further evolution of the creatures, and that may put them in even greater danger.
Co-written by Brent Maddock and S. S. Wilson (who both worked on writing the first film with that film's director, Ron Underwood), this is a fun time for those who were firm fans of the first film. It's not a complete retread, but it stays close enough to the winning formula. You get dry humour, a fun juxtaposition of the fantastical and the standard Joe/Joan Public dealing with it, and decent special effects throughout (although some CGI in the second half shows up the limitations of the budget). Wilson also takes on the directing duties this time around, and he benefits from the camaraderie between the two returning stars.
While Ward retains his usual charm, and works well enough with Gartin, his character really perks up again when onscreen with the character played by Gross. The two men are very reluctant heroes, and as likely to mess things up as they are to succeed, and Gross once again positions himself perfectly to steal some scenes and become the linchpin of the entire franchise. Gartin is perfectly fine, and Helen Shaver does her best to overcome some of the weakest writing, playing a geologist named Kate who has a secret in her past that would be laughed offscreen from anything that didn't have the charm or goofy sweetness of a Tremors movie. There are a smattering of other characters here and there, but the focus remains on our central quartet for the majority of the runtime. And the creatures, of course.
It's not as good as the first film, which set a very high bar, and there are other films in the series that are better, but this is an enjoyable sequel that gives a glimpse of how easily the franchise could move beyond the boundaries of Perfection without losing sight of what made the first movie so beloved by the fanbase it developed. Having said that, the next two movies in the series return the action to that desert town, but things are different enough in each instalment that I stand by what I just said.
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