Review Date: October 11, 2009
Released by: New Line
Release date: August 5, 2003
Region 1, NTSC
Widescreen 1.85:1 | 16x9: Yes
It's rare for a sequel to exceed the original, yet it happens from time to time in Hollywood. That's exactly what happened with New Line's release of Critters 2
back in 1988. With the success of Part 2, it's wasn't much of a surprise to see the release of Part 3 in 1991. The Brown family and Grover's Bend are a thing of the past, however. With Part 3 we get to see our favorite little aliens in the big city. Can New Line continue its winning streak with the franchise? Or does Part 3 start the inevitable down-slide found in every horror series? We'll find out together as this is my first time seeing the third movie. Lets take a look.
Clifford (John Calvin
) and his two kids, Annie (Aimee Brooks
) and Johnny (Christian Cousins
), are traveling back home from vacation. A blown tire forces them to pull over at a nearby rest stop. Clifford gets to work on changing the tire while Annie and Johnny do some exploring. They meet up with Josh (Leonardo DiCaprio
), whose family is also parked at the rest stop. They start playing frisbee and when it goes over a nearby ledge, they climb down after it. There they meet up with Charlie (Don Opper
), Grover's Bend town-drunk turned alien bounty hunter. Charlies tells them the story of Grover's Bend and the alien critters that infested the town. Josh is quick to dismiss Charlie's rantings as "horse shit!" As the three turn to head back, Charlie gives Johnny a crystal and tells him that it will turn green if trouble is near. With the tire repaired, Clifford and his two kids head home. Underneath the car we see several stowaways in the form of critter eggs.
Back at home, Clifford and his neighbors are dealing with a rundown apartment building. The handyman, Frank (Geoffrey Blake
), is working with Mr. Briggs (William Hunt
) to get all the residents to move out. Mr. Briggs wants to sell the building but does not want to pay the tenants a relocation fee. Frank sets rats loose in the vents and allows the condition of the building to deteriorate significantly. Underneath Clifford's truck the eggs hatch and the newborn critters make their way into the basement of the building. Meanwhile, Annie is facing her own struggles as she tries to get her father to come out of a rut he's been in since the death of his wife. Clifford has no interest in family funtime with Annie and Johnny; he simply wants to relax in front of the TV before he has to head out of town on business.
Annie and Johnny head up to the Menges apartment, a retired couple that watches the two children while Clifford is away at work. Mr. Menges (Bill Zuckert
) is a bit obsessed with aliens and when Johnny brings up Grover's Bend, he looks up all of the events that occurred in one of his alien newspapers. Annie heads back to their unit to check on her father when she hears the screams of Rosalie (Diana Bellamy
), a fellow tenant, in the basement. She runs down to see what happened and finds Roslie being attacked by several critters. The two manage to fight off the critters and barely escape. When they start telling Clifford what happened, he's quick to shrug off their story until the critters show up and start shooting quails at him. The residents band together to try and fend off the critters, but things soon get a bit more difficult when Mr. Briggs and his son Josh show up. Mr. Briggs wants to make things a bit more uncomfortable for the residents and decides to cut off all the phone lines and electricity. When Briggs himself is attacked, Josh is reunited with Annie and Johnny. Now the remaining residents must find a way to reach the rooftop and call for help before the critters can get in and make them their next meal.
marks the first direct-to-video entry in the series. This no doubt meant a smaller budget and it certainly shows as the quality of the franchise takes a serious nosedive here, proving once again that cutting the budget and simply trying to make a buck off the success of the prior entries is nearly always a recipe for disaster. Everything from the effects down to the acting is just plain bad here. The story is pretty lackluster, too, which I could have lived with it had they simply stuck to giving us some entertaining critter mayhem to enjoy. I tried to enjoy the mayhem here; I really did. In the end there just wasn't enough to enjoy.
The Chiodo Brothers are gone this time around and they are certainly missed on the effects front. Sure, the critters themselves are supposed to look like cheap-looking gremlin knock-offs, yet in this one they look even cheaper and worse than the first two movies. You wouldn't think cheap looking puppets could look worse, but they do. Showing more of them - feet and all - was a mistake, too, as now they simply look like teddy bears being thrown about.
I'm sure Leonardo loves having Critters 3
on his resume, yet even the future superstar of Hollywood couldn't turn in a worthy performance here. The entire cast is downright dreadful. John Calvin as Clifford, the father, is a bore. As viewers we could care less about what happens to his two kids - Annie and Johnny - since their own performances are just as forgettable. Even the familiar face of Charlie from the first two entries isn't enough to keep you awake. Charlie is a bumbling idiot in the first two but they didn't quite get him right this time around. It's like they went too over the top with his character; plus the lack of screen time doesn't help, either.
With weak effects, forgettable acting, and a dreadful story, there just isn't much to enjoy in Critters 3
. There's some critter mayhem to be had and I always enjoy seeing that, but in the end it's too little and too late. If I want entertaining puppets I'll go with The Muppets
; if I want evil Muppets, I'll stick with the first two Critters
New Line presents Critters 3
in its original 1.85:1 aspect ratio that is 16x9 enhanced. A P&S transfer is also included on the DVD. I'm not sure if it's the fact that this was a direct-to-video release, but the video quality in this third entry takes a small step down from the first two. It's still a good transfer overall, but there's definitely more grain present in this entry. Overall the image is sharp though some scenes are a bit soft and lacking in detail. Colors seems accurate and again have lots of vibrancy. No MPEG artificats are present.
Both a Dolby Surround and a new Dolby 5.1 track are included. I'm happy to see a remastered track but like the first two, there's just isn't much done with the 5.1 track. There's little channel separation and only a handful of scenes that give some LFE activity. It's adequate but perhaps 5.1 is a bit unnecessary if underutilized.
This time around I'm more than happy to not have any supplements. If I had to sit through a commentary on this one, it would have been painful. Like the first two, a theatrical trailer is included and the disc is DVD-ROM enhanced.
New Line again continues to give adequate treatment to the series on the image quality, yet the supplements continue to be missing in action. As for Critters 3
itself, it's a stinker to be avoided at all costs. Watch the first two instead.
Movie - D
Image Quality - B
Sound - B
Supplements - D
- Running time - 1 hour 26 minutes
- Rated PG-13
- 1 Disc
- Chapter Stops
- English Dolby Digital 5.1, Dolby Surround
- Theatrical trailer
- DVD-ROM Enabled