Jump to content

Sign up for a free account to remove the pop-up ads

Signing up for an account is fast and free. As a member you can join in the conversation, enter contests and remove the pop-up ads that guests get. Click here to create your free account.

DVD Reviews

HTF Review: Tremors 4 - The Legend Begins

  • You cannot start a new topic
  • Please log in to reply
15 replies to this topic

#1 of 16 OFFLINE   Jason Perez

Jason Perez

    Second Unit

  • 310 posts
  • Join Date: Jul 06 2003

Posted January 02 2004 - 05:51 PM

Posted Image

Tremors 4: The Legend Begins

Studio: Universal
Year: 2004
Rated: PG-13
Film Length: 101 minutes
Aspect Ratio: 16X9 Enhanced Widescreen (1.85:1)
Subtitles: English, French, and Spanish
Audio: English, Spanish, and French - Dolby Digital 5.1

NOTE: The disc contains “somewhat forced” trailers (you can fast forward through them) for: The Skulls III and Johnny English, as well as a promo for Sci-Fi pictures originals.

As its title suggests, Tremors 4: The Legend Begins is a precursor to the Tremors trilogy and television series, which pits human beings against intelligent and ferocious subterranean creatures. As this installment, which is set precisely one century before the original Tremors, opens, silver miners in the remote mining town of Rejection, Nevada are attacked and consumed by worm-like “mini Graboids”, causing mass panic and threatening to halt the mining operation.

Shortly thereafter, the wealthy mine-owner (and great-grandfather to Tremors mainstay Burt Gummer), Hiram Gummer (Michael Gross), arrives to see why his silver mine is shut down. During an expedition to the mine, Hiram encounters the Graboids, and after he narrowly escapes with his own life, he decides to retain the services of an experienced gunfighter to deal with the creatures. As the story unfolds, a lot of the history behind the vents in the previous films, and the TV series, is filled in.

Since fans of the series were not able to see Tremors 4 in theaters, I really don’t want to reveal any more of the storyline or otherwise spoil the experience. Let’s just say that in my opinion, this direct-to-video prequel is a decent enough monster-movie, although it contains far more in the way of action and tongue-in-cheek humor than actual frights. However, one of the interesting things about this movie that I will point out is that there is little in the way of CGI effects, which makes it kind of a throwback to old school filmmaking. To be sure, CGI is not a bad thing, but in the case of Tremors 4, I think the use of miniatures and puppets enhances the film by adding more realism to the proceedings and giving the actors something to play off of.

Speaking of acting, the performances in this film, while not Oscar© -worthy, are still much better than what one might expect to find in movies from this genre. A series veteran, Michael Gross sinks his teeth into the role of Hiram Gummer, and keeps the character from becoming too cheesy. Likewise, Brent Roam, Ming Lo, Sam Ly, Sara Botsford, and Billy Drago also make the most of their time on-screen, and give their characters a little more life than the typical supporting players in creature features usually have.

Oh, just in case you were wondering, Tremors 4 also features a few of what Director S.S. Wilson calls “the obligatory Tremors gore shots” and a variety of cool period-specific firepower…. make sure to keep your eyes peeled for the devastating “hideout piece”! Posted Image

Despite being peppered with dimly-lit environments that can play havoc with image reproduction on DVD, Universal’s anamorphic widescreen (1.85:1) transfer for Tremors 4: The Legend Begins is pretty solid all the way around. To begin with, colors are nicely saturated, either rich and earthy or bold and vibrant, as need be. Also, although the image is slightly soft, it is both clean and pleasant to look at, and the slight softness never saps too much detail from the image, which was a problem with Universal’s American Wedding transfer.

Furthermore, black level is very good throughout, giving the image plenty of texture and above average shadow delineation. Again, this is important, because there are a number of scenes in dark places in Tremors 4, most of which are naturally (as opposed to theatrically) lit by candles and lanterns. Really, aside from a small touch of edge enhancement, this disc looks pretty good, and showcases the beautiful California landscapes quite wonderfully.

The audio for Tremors 4 is encoded by Universal into separate English, Spanish, and French 5.1 channel Dolby Digital tracks. I am happy to report that with the exception of a couple of instances (e.g. Chapter 7) where the obviously replaced dialogue sounds confined and lacking in dynamics, the Dolby Digital track is quite good overall. Specifically, frequency response is commendable, especially in the lower registers, which add a great deal of impact to the activities and movements of the Graboids, gunshots, the steam tractor that is featured throughout the film, and especially the last scene in the film.

The rear channels are also quite active, embellishing the film’s music, filling the listening space with the subtleties of the outdoor environments or mine interiors, and a number of location specific effects. Music reproduction is also handled well, particularly the nice acoustic guitar work that opens several of the film’s chapters, including chapters six and nine.

Again, this is a fine audio track, with the only notable exception being the characters’ speech in a few places. Still, that problem aside, it is nice that all of the film’s dialogue is clearly audible, even during action sequences. Overall, this is a nice job by Universal!!!


Feature Length Commentary:
Director S.S. Wilson handles the commentary duties for Tremors 4 in a smooth, easygoing, and screen-specific manner. Although it is not among the best commentaries I have ever heard, Mr. Wilson is somewhat insightful, and his comments generally add a little to the scenes he is commentating over. Highlights included:

--- In the opening scene, there was no theatrical lighting, only the candles and lanterns seen on-screen are illuminating the shot.

--- S.S. Wilson points out many of the in-jokes sprinkled throughout Tremors 4, placed in the film specifically for fans of the series.

--- Mr. Wilson reveals that this is the very first time extras were used on a Tremors film.

--- To give the film a more realistic look and feel, there was very little CGI used, except to blend miniatures shots with footage of the actors.

--- Several scenes in the film were lengthened specifically to allow the use of music.

--- At several points, S.S. Wilson discusses the filmmakers’ research into the mining culture, and, of course, the weaponry used in the film. It appears that a great deal of care was taken to ensure props and weapons were as period specific as possible.

As I already mentioned, this commentary track doesn’t ascend to a level of greatness, but it is certainly worth listening to, particularly if you are a fan. I would also be remiss if I did not say that I was most impressed with the desire S.S. Wilson seems to have to please fans of the series, which comes across throughout the commentary and other extras.

You’re On The Set of Tremors 4: The Legend Begins
This 12-minute promotional piece that features interviews with Michael Gross, Nancy Roberts (writer/producer), and S.S. Wilson, among others, is somewhat humorous and insightful, and should be enjoyable for fans of the series. During this featurette, the cast and crew talk about how the shift to the old west gives the series a fresh perspective, and about how this installment should provide a lot of background on the other films in the franchise. Perhaps the most interesting thing though, is the level of respect everyone involved seems to have for fans of the Tremors franchise, and the hints dropped that this may not be the final Tremors film.

Dirt Dragons
The “Dirt Dragons” featurette is a detailed, enthusiastic discussion of the reverse engineering of the Graboids from the other films to create the mini-Graboids featured in Tremors 4. During this featurette’s nearly 6 minutes of running time, several interesting things are brought to light. Most notably, there was very little CGI used in the film, and a full-scale Graboid was created that was capable of actually swallowing an actor!

Deleted Scenes
There are a total of 16 deleted scenes offered as one reel (about 12 minutes worth), much of which appears to have been trimmed for time, and almost all of which feature Michael Gross’ character, Hiram Gummer.

The outtakes segment includes about 6-minutes of antics, gags, and line flubs by most of the principal cast. Nothing ground-breaking here, but some of the content is amusing.

Miniatures Production
A short piece set to music, featuring the talented KNB effects team assembling the miniatures and filming some scenes for the movie.

S.S. Wilson’s Student Film – “Recorded Live”
For me, this was the highlight of the extras! Recorded in 1975, this short film depicts a man heading to a job interview only to be confronted by a reel of living film, forcing him to fight for survival. Interestingly, Ben Burtt (Star Wars) handled the sound design! This is a very cool short, and I highly recommend giving it a look!


(on a five-point scale)
Movie: Posted Image Posted Image Posted Image
Video: Posted Image Posted Image Posted Image Posted Image
Audio: Posted Image Posted Image Posted Image Posted Image
Extras: Posted Image Posted Image Posted Image Posted Image
Overall: Posted Image Posted Image Posted Image Posted Image

Tremors 4: The Legend Begins is a decent, though unspectacular, monster film which receives a pretty good DVD treatment from Universal. The transfer and audio tracks are both solid, and contain very little to complain about, while the included extras should provide fans of the series with some additional insight into the Tremors series. I know I mentioned it before, but I will do so one more time: the amount of respect that the creators of this series appears to have for its fan-base is commendable, and although the extras fall a bit short of greatness, this perception raises their quality a little bit in my mind.

I was never a fan of the Tremors series, and this prequel certainly did not make me want to run out and purchase/see the two films I never saw (2 &3), but I expect that fans might find it a worthy purchase, particularly because it is supposed to come packaged with a free DVD copy of the original. However, since I am of the opinion that this title may not warrant multiple spins, especially for those new to the series, I would caution others to give it a rental before buying.

Stay tuned…

Release Date:
January 2, 2004
Padawan Learner in the Mystical Art of Home Theater!

Display Tweaked to Perfection by Calibrator Extraordinaire Gregg Loewen!

#2 of 16 OFFLINE   Jeremy Allin

Jeremy Allin

    Supporting Actor

  • 897 posts
  • Join Date: Oct 06 2001

Posted January 03 2004 - 01:19 AM

Thanks for the review, Jason. I am a fan of the first Tremors and have sat through the other two with a friend (a much bigger fan than myself). He has been anxiously awaiting this disc but has not received it yet (he ordered online). I'll see this one eventually. Glad to hear it's a quality DVD.

#3 of 16 OFFLINE   Jan Strnad

Jan Strnad


  • 1,004 posts
  • Join Date: Jan 01 1999

Posted January 03 2004 - 05:49 AM

The first Tremors is one of my all-time favorites. I'm kinda cool on the sequels since they abandon the under-the-earth concept, so I'll definitely check this prequel! Thanks for the review! Jan
Jan Strnad

aka J. Knight,
author of Risen and Boo.

#4 of 16 OFFLINE   Marius W

Marius W


  • 30 posts
  • Join Date: Oct 15 2003
  • Real Name:Marius Willms

Posted January 03 2004 - 11:30 AM

I have really been looking forward to this release. I really love the first movie, and the two others are also great entertainment. Happy to see that Universal gives us a great DVD with some quality extras. I just hope that the Sci-Fi Channel series eventually will show up on DVD. I actually liked that series, but I don't think my interest would have survived much more than 13 episodes. -Marius

#5 of 16 OFFLINE   johnbr


    Stunt Coordinator

  • 151 posts
  • Join Date: Dec 31 1969

Posted January 03 2004 - 01:12 PM

The first one was the best its to bad that Universal has not done new transfer in 16/9 of it and a new 5.1/dd.

#6 of 16 OFFLINE   Jason Perez

Jason Perez

    Second Unit

  • 310 posts
  • Join Date: Jul 06 2003

Posted January 03 2004 - 04:26 PM

Thanks a lot John & Marius! Even though I really have a very full schedule these days, you guys are making me want to check the first Tremors out again. It has been a long time since I saw it, so my memory is a little fuzzy on what happens. Oh well, I guess I will have to give it a rental. I hope you all will enjoy this installment whenever you see it!!! Regards, Jason
Padawan Learner in the Mystical Art of Home Theater!

Display Tweaked to Perfection by Calibrator Extraordinaire Gregg Loewen!

#7 of 16 OFFLINE   Dan Lassiter

Dan Lassiter

    Stunt Coordinator

  • 98 posts
  • Join Date: Jan 18 2000

Posted January 04 2004 - 10:35 AM

Being a big Tremors fan I got this sight unseen yesterday. I must say I was pretty impressed with it. Of the four Tremors films out now, I put Tremors 4 in second place behind the first (which is a classic). If you like the Tremors films at all, I think this one will impress. It has a lot of great inside jokes. The photography, especially the dark night photography and the work inside the silver mine, is really nice. And of course the monsters are neat as well. I also thought the acting was pretty good. I really like the guy who plays the hired gunslinger. I started listening to the commentary track today and got about a third of the way through. It's not really peppy, but it has some funny moments and is pretty informative. I recommend it to all fans of the original film. Dan

"I'm a very good man, I'm just a very bad wizard."

#8 of 16 OFFLINE   Jason Seaver

Jason Seaver

    Lead Actor

  • 9,306 posts
  • Join Date: Dec 31 1969

Posted January 04 2004 - 03:23 PM

Tsk, tsk... How can you be enough of a fan of B-movies to enjoy the Tremors series beyond the first film and not recognize Billy Drago? He's one of the all-time great "That Guy"s; probably most noted for playing John Bly on The Adventures Of Brisco County Junior (and later playing a villain on just about every series that hired someone who worked on that show). I can't say I'm terribly fond of Tremors 4 - it doesn't quite have the "hey, that's better than it has any right to be" feel that the first two movies and the TV series have, but it's pretty darn adequate. Which, for a third direct-to-video sequel (and how many of those still have the theatrical film's writers involved?), isn't bad.
Jay's Movie Blog - A movie-viewing diary.
Transplanted Life: Sci-fi soap opera about a man placed in a new body, updated two or three times a week.
Trading Post Inn - Another gender-bending soap, with different collaborators writing different points of view.

"What? Since when was this an energy...

#9 of 16 OFFLINE   Keith Paynter

Keith Paynter


  • 1,833 posts
  • Join Date: Mar 16 1999

Posted January 04 2004 - 05:02 PM

Nice review, Jason, although I never really bothered with any of the titles (or series) beyond the original movie. BTW, Oscar is a registered trademark ™, not a copyright (©). Just the nitpicker in me...
I don't like SPAM!

#10 of 16 OFFLINE   Damin J Toell

Damin J Toell


  • 3,762 posts
  • Join Date: Mar 07 2001
  • Real Name:Damin J. Toell
  • LocationBrooklyn, NY

Posted January 04 2004 - 05:08 PM

And, of course, to pick further nits, registered trademarks are used with ® and not TM. DJ

#11 of 16 OFFLINE   Keith Paynter

Keith Paynter


  • 1,833 posts
  • Join Date: Mar 16 1999

Posted January 05 2004 - 05:03 AM

I don't like SPAM!

#12 of 16 OFFLINE   Chuck Bogie

Chuck Bogie

    Second Unit

  • 397 posts
  • Join Date: Jan 14 2003

Posted January 06 2004 - 03:49 AM

Well, all I know is that I'm getting ready to buy a house, and I'm gonna have an even cooler rec room!

#13 of 16 OFFLINE   Stephen Orr

Stephen Orr


  • 1,105 posts
  • Join Date: Mar 14 1999

Posted January 08 2004 - 12:38 PM

Just rented this today. As a fan of the series, I thought it was a hoot. Just be prepared, you don't really get to see the nasties really well until about an hour in, except for their "larval" stage.

#14 of 16 OFFLINE   Jason Perez

Jason Perez

    Second Unit

  • 310 posts
  • Join Date: Jul 06 2003

Posted January 10 2004 - 01:30 AM

Keith and Damin,

Thanks for clearing that up for me! Believe it or not, I have been putting the little copyright symbol behind "Oscar" forever - just one of those things you know is right (until someone corrects you). What is strange is that I made it through a total of 7 years of college without anyone pointing that out! Oh well...at least from now on I will get it right in my reviews!


Padawan Learner in the Mystical Art of Home Theater!

Display Tweaked to Perfection by Calibrator Extraordinaire Gregg Loewen!

#15 of 16 OFFLINE   Damin J Toell

Damin J Toell


  • 3,762 posts
  • Join Date: Mar 07 2001
  • Real Name:Damin J. Toell
  • LocationBrooklyn, NY

Posted January 10 2004 - 06:10 PM

This is why an additional 3 years of law school is necessary to pick nits like a champ. Posted Image


#16 of 16 OFFLINE   Aaron Telsey

Aaron Telsey


  • 17 posts
  • Join Date: Feb 23 2004

Posted February 24 2004 - 12:20 PM

It's sad how they have driven this series into the ground. Part 1- Great Part 2- Considering it was DTV, admirable Part 3- Eh... Part 4- I'm not gonna waste the money renting it. The series- I only saw a few eps, but I think the show was unnecessary.

0 user(s) are reading this topic

0 members, 0 guests, 0 anonymous users