Puppet Master: Axis of Evil (UK - DVD R2)
Our Marcus finds a chest full of puppets and isn't too sure why they were made...
Puppet Master: The Axis of Evil is the tenth, yes, tenth entry in the Puppet Master series and sees chair maker Danny Coogan (Levi Fiehler) become the new owner of the creepy little puppets as he tries to prevent some undercover Nazis from taking out a US bomb making factory in 1939. Seriously.
I’d not seen any of the Puppet Master movies so I’m not sure if the others had so much of a Twilight Zone/Steven Spielberg Presents feel to them. This movie feels very much like it could have turned up on Saturday afternoon TV in the eighties. In both visual style and the mood the synth score attempts to build. The entire thing has that Spielberg-ian tall tale feel to it especially when you throw in wartime America and undercover Nazis.
Generally the story works (once you swallow the puppets come to life concept anyway), but where the movie loses its footing is the fact it looks like an internet fan film for the most part. Cheap sets, basic lighting and unconvincing acting fill every scene and with the more outlandish characters (the Nazis and underworld Geisha) looking a lot like modern day college students going to a fancy dress party as opposed to actors in character, the whole illusion of a period drama with a demonic twist never quite gets off the ground.
As mentioned above the movie looks like a fan film, and to go with that it has a pretty ropey transfer. Weak black levels are the biggest failing with the whole movie looking hazy throughout and when combined with the bad lighting and the horribly fake sets everything just looks cheap and unimpressive.
There’s also the weird intercutting between a previous Puppet Master movie and this new one which looks sloppy and unconvincing. Of course this isn’t the transfer's failing as such, but the weak presentation doesn’t do anything to hide the low budget nature of this entire affair.
There is a Dolby Digital 5.1 option, but honestly you’d barely know it. Everything sits snugly in the front speakers and everything feels confined because of it. There’s really nothing going on outside of the hokey dialogue and the iffy score and even sound effects seem non-existent for the most part.
There really isn’t much else to say here. It’s a very basic audio track doing a very basic job and really that’s it.
‘No Strings Attached’ (07:19) is a classic behind the scenes look at the original Puppet Master, which I’d imagine fans will love seeing (if they haven’t got it elsewhere anyway). Incidentally, the clips they show off the original twenty year old movie make Axis of Evil look even cheaper.
There’s also the trailer for Axis of Evil (02:05) which makes this movie look even more like a fan made project.
Puppet Master: Axis of Evil was an easy watch, but for the life of me I don’t know what it was trying to be. It treads a weird line between a Small Soldiers style romp and a Child's Play style killer toy horror, but it never commits to either. It’s not gory, but it’s not that fun either. The story is classic Saturday afternoon tall tale stuff but its visuals hint at grimier things without ever going there. Honestly, I'm baffled as to what Puppet Master: Axis of Evil is trying to be.
The DVD is underwhelming at best—weak video, basic audio and not very good features. I may not have seen the other Puppet Master movies but this sure as hell feels like the tenth instalment of a dying franchise to me.
Review by Marcus Doidge
Suitable only for persons of 15 years and over
Release Date: 24th January 2011
Disc Type: Single side, dual layer
Audio: Dolby Digital 5.1 English , Dolby Surround 2.1 English
Extras: Featurette, Trailer
Easter Egg: No
Director: David DeCoteau
Cast: # Levi Fiehler, Jenna Gallagher,Taylor M. Graham
Genre: Drama and Horror
Length: 81 minutes
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