Trancers III: Deth Lives Reviews
Still chasing Trancers all through time and space Thomerson is witty as ever and on top form with his tough guy persona. He still manages to make me smile despite the utter crud going on all around. I dunno why Thomerson keeps doing these but he is the main attraction for sure.
The first two films seemed to be semi serious but this third film definitely eases up and clearly everyone is having a good time making it. The whole concept seems to be leaning towards the dark humour of the 'Evil Dead' franchise in my opinion, plenty of wise cracks, visual tomfoolery and more outlandish fantasy based ideas.
This is the final film with most the original cast returning and it sets up the next installment quite well. It introduces new characters, new methods of time travel and give Jack Deth a nice big gun.
Not quite as enjoyable as the first film, I did enjoy if more than the second due to the added backstory elements and the increased set design.
In 1992, Jack Death and Leena's relationship are on the rocks as Deth makes a living as a private investigator who basically just spies on cheating spouses. Deth, while on the way to mend fences with his wife, gets kidnapped by a ridiculous looking robot sent form the future. While back in the year 2325, his superiors make him aware that a newer, stronger breed of Trancers are whipping the humans out so he is stent back the year 2005 when the stronger Trancer program began by psychotic villain Col. Daddy Muthuh (Andrew Robinson, having a heyday by hamming up his performance). So now it's up to Deth, and his sidekick Shark (the ridiculous looking cyborg) to take these stronger breed of Trancers out! Are they too strong for Deth? Oh fuck no!
The film sadly doesn't have all the actors from the previous films return but they wrote the plot so we wouldn't need them. Somehow Band still convinced Helen Hunt to come back to make a small reprisal despite her hitting the big time with her television show Mad About You. Even though her role in this sequel is small, it's still great to see her back.
I really dug the new dark approach to the subject matter and I was also pleased they still were able to keep some of the tongue-in-cheek humor with Deth, sporting a new crew cut, still wonderfully spouting off some great one-liners. I also really liked the addition of the android sidekick "Shark" despite its appearance looking completely idiotic.
I was completely surprised by Trancers III and for a direct-to-video low budget B-movie, this was pretty decent. I highly recommend this to fans of the franchise though some may not like the dark approach. I dug it and to me it felt more like the original film as Trancers II did get a little too unintentionally funny and wacky at some moments.
Bonus Rant: Just like Trancers II, the advertising group and filmmakers can't decided if to include a subtitle or not. Trancers II had the subtitle The Return of Jack Deth on all the advertisements and box artwork but not on the film. The same applies to Trancers III as it also as the subtitle Deth Lives on the advertisements but not in the film. It may be a minor grip but COME ON guys, it's not that hard to make the titles match!
This, in the third entry in the 'Trancers' franchise is just as silly and camp as you would expect. At a very short running time of just over 70 minutes, the plot is very lightweight and there are plot holes big enough to drive Jack's Corvette through, but it is still an immensly enjoyable watch. Tim Thomerson plays Jack with his usual gumshoe gusto, but is actually out-hammed by Andrew Robinson as the movie's villain. Another great entry in this low-budget SF series.
Also, this was the first time I was actually impressed with Tim Thomerson as main character Jack Deth. Deth Lives gives Jack Deth a little more room to stretch his arms. And Thomerson finally feels comfortable in the role, and like the film really comes to life on screen. He was perfect with his sarcastic manner, and created a lot of great laughs in the film.
Sadly, this is the first Trancers film I wasn't won over with. The story is interesting, to say the least. The trancing technology is now being used by a small sector of the U.S. military to create super soldiers, with deadly results. Jack has been pulled back to the year 2247, only to be sent back to 2005 and try to put an end to Col. Daddy Muthuh's (Andrew Robinson) plans. It's the mixing of this story and Jack Deth's continuing journey that doesn't work so well, and the end result feels like a film that Jack Deth was added to at the last second.
The movie is a little more open minded, and added some new science fiction elements to the story. There is a robot that looks like something from a creature-feature that assists Deth on his mission. Shark (R.A. Mihailoff), as it is affectionately referred to, was a neat idea but one that was underused. You don't get to see a lot of him in action, which was a pity. This film continues Deth's trend of mindlessly shooting people, but at least it as a little more fun this time around.
Trancers 3: Deth Lives opens up decently, and has a pretty good ending. But the middle sinks badly, and drags on. While I did admire some of the elements that went into making this film, ultimately Deth Lives felt like a filler entry in this series. Pity this one didn't turn out too well, since the series has been rather fun up until this point.
"Trancers III" is darker in tone and it feels like it was shot on a lower budget than the first two installments of the film; we don't see the Trancers dissolve after they've been killed, for example. It's also the first installment that wasn't directed by Charles Band, but instead saw its screenwriter C. Courtney Joyner also taking on the directorial duties.
These changes could possibly have added up to an inferior film, but they didn't. "Trancers III" has a more cohereent storyline than "Trancers II" and it was the first first entry in the series that wasn't directed by Charles Band himself, and the darker tone makes it feel like the stakes are higher than they've ever been before. The only humor present in this film are Jack Deth's hardboiled detective-style wisecracks and narration but they're as sharp here as they've ever been.
While the film continues to play with the notion of tangled and confused timelines that was introduced in "Trancers II", it ultimately fails to take full advantage of these concepts, doesn't provide as strong an ending as it might have had, and even undermines the time travel rules that had established the series in the first place due to what I am certain is Charles Band's desire to keep the door open for more sequels.
The mission Jack Deth undertakes in this film is to stop the Trancers before they even become a threat in the future. I doubt I'm spoiling anything by telling you that he succeeds, but, according to what we've seen in other installments, that success should have resulted in Jack never being sent back into the past to begin with as there never would have been a Whistler for him to hunt or even a reason for Jack to be a Trancer Hunter.
The perfect ending for this film would have been if it had taken the series full circle by having Philip Deth, the man whose body Jack Deth's conciousness is actually inhabiting wake up to play out the scene where Lela and Jack first met, but this time without Jack's mind in his body. Failing that, future Trancer sequels SHOULD have dealt with why Jack's future even exists, as he should have unraveled it in 2005. They don't, however, but instead go off in a more fantasy-oriented direction, jettisoning most sci-fi elements as Jack Deth ends up in a parallel dimension where magic trumps his technological toys.
"Trancers III" should have been the end-point for the series, and I recommend that you make it so. The sequels that follow are far inferior to this one (despite being written by Peter David, author of "Howling Mad") and I think you should be left with Jack's greatest adventure as the last outing you witness, even with the imperfect ending.
Trancers III (aka "Future Cop III" and "Deth Lives")
Starring: Tim Thomerson, Melanie Smith, Andrew Robinson, Tony Pierce, Megan Ward, Helen Hunt, Stephen Macht and Dawn Ann Billings
Director: C. Courtney Joyner
Returning to fine form is Tim Thomerson as Jack Deth, the exterminator of trancers. To further understand what they are, you need not watch Trancers III then 5,2,4 and 1. Trust me, you'll be lost.
Pity that Helen Hunt packed it in after this. But she moved on to bigger and better projects. Mr. Thomerson on the other hand, returned as Jack for two further sequels.
Trancers III reminds me of RoboCop 3, because of its very dark apocalyptic tone. If you don't know, both films picture a decaying city following government take-overs.
Shark as Jack's partner was cool, but their time on screen together is limited. The new trancer lord was played by Hellraiser's Andrew Robinson, who always makes for a terrific bad guy.
Not surprisingly, Trancers III was the last film to be set in LA. Trancers 4 only briefly sees Jack Deth in LA before he left for Romania.
Kind of a cool film, if viewed as a time filler. This would've made an awesome TV series, IMO. Too bad Tim probably won't return as Deth now that Full Moon isn't the same.