Story: The magical puppets of Toulon are still alive and kicking, but a new evil is about to dawn that could spell disaster even for these powerful, supernatural entities. A strange, violent new type of puppet seems to be on the warpath, launching a surprise attack on a scientist in an effort to track down Toulon’s minions on orders from their own master. Meanwhile, another scientist works on his own artificial intelligence projects and while his robotic creations wouldn’t be able to keep pace with the puppets, his work is remarkable. And the alien-esque puppets that are stalking him plan to destroy that research, not to mention snuff out Toulon’s mysterious concoctions. But when the scientist is able to reanimate Toulon’s puppets, his research escalates at a breakneck pace, though can even he and the puppets fend off these new, powerful minions?
Entertainment Value: This is where the Puppet Master franchise starts to go downhill or at least begins to weaken, which is a shame after three fun installments. The story here is passable and serves to basically introduce the totems and our new puppet, the Decapitron, so it does what it needs to, but feels less interesting than previous volumes. I do like the totems and of course I love the puppets vs. totems battles, but the emphasis is on the human stories for some reason here. Which is fine, except that the humans are the least interesting element in the Puppet Master series, so why not spend more time on the puppets and totems instead? The puppets look good as always and when Puppet Master 4 focuses on them, the movie is a decent watch and has an almost Power Rangers type feel, with a big bad isolated far away, but sending in his minions to cause problems. When the focus moves to the humans, the movie stalls and can be quite dull, to say the least. I wanted to like this one, as I love the previous three, but this was a step backwards for the franchise.
This sequel also seems to want to clean up the puppets a little, moving them into full on hero mode and limiting the horror elements to an extent. The violence is toned down and the puppets mostly tangle with the totems, rather than human villains, resulting in minimal gore. The puppets themselves are fun to watch and remain the stars of the series, though Decapitron is kind of a dud in that his actions are slow and he does little until the film’s finale. The human cast is forgettable for the most part, as the writing doesn’t give them much to do beyond go through the motions, while the performances overall are basic and forgettable. Guy Rolfe is here as Toulon and he at least tries to bring some energy to his role, even in the awkward green screen moments when his head is superimposed onto Decapitron’s body, a special effect that never fails to make me laugh. The cast also includes Chandra West, Ash Adams, Teresa Hill, and Gordon Currie.