Story: Danny (Levi Fiehler) wants nothing more than to storm into battle and take on some Nazis, but he had a medical condition that prevents him from joining the ranks. While he takes the news hard, he soon finds himself involved in the fight nonetheless, by stumbling onto a most unique discovery. Andre Toulon, the master puppeteer, was assassinated by Nazi agents, but the Germans were unable to locate what they wanted. Toulon’s special puppets were hidden in a false wall and while the Nazis overlooked the panel, Danny did not. Using the same method as Toulon, Danny injects the puppets with the glowing green syringe and enlists them into the war effort. When he learns about a plot to attack a manufacturing plant, he gets into action, but can a rookie master handle these puppets?

Entertainment Value: This ninth Puppet Master installment kicks off a new “Axis” trilogy of films, with the puppets back in World War II, with the Nazis on the hunt. The story is weak and forgettable, but of course, the narrative isn’t the draw in this franchise. Even so, this is cringe stuff at times, with lame humor and wooden performances, though it rarely dials up the campiness to a level needed to achieve some “so bad, its good” qualities. The human storylines are predictable and to me, a total of waste of time, since the real draw has to be the puppets, not the humans. And the end result of Axis of Evil, like most of the Puppet Master movies, is that when the puppets are the focus and on the move, this is a fun flick, but when they’re not, the entire picture stalls out. I thought the long, drawn out segments of the narrative really grind the pace down and in Axis of Evil, the puppets are rarely a kinetic part of the story, which means a lot of boredom sets in.

The puppets could have saved this mess however, with more screen time and more battles against the sinister Nazi forces. I mean, who wants to watch a dull, over the top patriotic storyline when instead, we could just watch Blade and his crew handle business? I’m not sure why the filmmakers chose to give the puppets so little screen time here, perhaps budgetary concerns or the like, but they could have juiced up the human narratives a little to try to compensate. A wild, fun main storyline could have distracted from the lack of puppets or perhaps even a cast that embraced the corniness could have helped, but no such luck here. The movie even opens with a long, not needed sequence that is mostly reused footage from the original Puppet Master, so to me, it is clear that Full Moon was up to their old tricks of padding run times in that fashion. A long wait from the start until the puppets roll into action, then a long wait between their times to shine, which is a shame. I really hoped this new trilogy would reset the franchise back to its roots, but sadly, it is a mediocre installment of the series.

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