Review Date: October 19, 2009
Released by: New Line
Release date: August 5, 2003
Region 1, NTSC
Widescreen 1.85:1 | 16x9: Yes
marked the end to the franchise back in 1992. Part 3 was a big disappointment for me but can sending the critters up into space redeem the series and give it a proper sendoff? Or is it destined to close with a disappointment greater than the third entry? Sending Jason into space was a mixed result, yet considering the critters are from space, it seems like a better fit here. With only Don Opper (playing Charlie) back from the first three, it's anyone's guess. Lets have a look and find out how to the final entry stacks up.
The film starts off right where the third ends - Charlie (Don Opper
) is in the basement of an apartment building looking for any remaining critters. He discovers two eggs and is about to destroy them but is stopped when he receives a message forbidding him from doing so, since that would render the species extinct. A pod lands in the building and Charlie puts the eggs inside. Before Charlie can exit the pod, the door closes and it's filled with gas. The pod lifts off into space but is lost, leaving Charlie in suspended animation for the next 50 years.
A salvage ship led by Captain Richard Butrum (Anders Hove
) recovers the pod. The crew consists of Ethan (Paul Whitthorne
), Fran (Angela Basset
), Al (Brad Dourif
), and Bernie (Eric Dare
). They have a brief debate on whether to report the find and after putting it to a vote, the decision is made to report it. Once the report is sent, they receive a call from the CEO of Terracor. He is excited and anxious about their find and offers them triple the rate in straight salvage. Most of the crew is excited but the captain is greedy and thinks they should be getting more. After his sexual advances are rejected by Fran, Captain Rick decides to open the pod and have a look inside. Doing so revives Charlie but also allows for the eggs to hatch, thus releasing two hungry little critters aboard the ship.
With the critters loose the mayhem begins. Bernie is attacked as he tries to raid the ship's pharmacy of its drugs. The ship was headed for a Terracor docking station but the critters manage to redirect it to earth. Meanwhile Charlie and the remaining crew make their way to an escape pod. They are preparing to depart but Charlie renders the ship useless after destroying a console during a critter attack. They wait out the arrival of a crew from Terracor, who arrive led by Ugh (Terrence Mann
), Charlie's old bounty hunter buddy. To Charlie's surprise, Ugh's motives are sinister; Terracore is adamant about recovering the critter eggs for their own experiments. Ugh kills Al and leave Charlie, Ethan, and Fran as the sole survivors. Now Charlie and crew must find a way to destroy the remaining critters and stop Ugh at all costs.
This is another first time viewing for me and even with my disappointment of the third, I had high hopes for this fourth entry. I had hoped to departure from earth, along with the return of Ugh, would potentially breathe some new life into the series, yet that failed to happen here in Critters 4
. There's a lot of fun to be had with the franchise and the potential of it was never really untapped in the third and fourth films. The return of Ugh was a huge letdown. To see Ugh turned evil, well, again something unnecessary and will only lessen my enjoyment of the first two. I can see how the Terracor aspect to the story is needed to explain various events, but it was convoluted and still seems out of place.
A few of the cast will be recognized by genre fans, including Brad Dourif - the voice of Chucky, and Anders Hove - Radu from the Subspecies
series. Even the then unknown Angela Basset is along for the ride. The actors do a fine job with the material they are given; it's just the material itself that is flawed. Like the third, we are simply not given enough critter mayhem to enjoy. I don't care so much about the story or even the characters as that's not too important in a movie like this. But without the mayhem, what's left? The humor element isn't present here, either, which lessens what little critter action is present. Limiting most of the action to two critter creatures is certainly the result of a smaller budget, but ultimately leaves the filmmakers with little to work with and little for fans to enjoy.
The effects are again lackluster and that's no doubt due to budget limitations and the missing Chiodo Brothers. We are once again given a few meager looking critter puppets to enjoy, along with a few baby critters that look like they were straight from a 1st grade art class. The astroturf on the spaceship floor was a nice touch, too.
It's a shame to see the series go out on a whimper like this, yet that's exactly what it does. Definitely a disappointment.
New Line presents Critters 4
in its original 1.85:1 aspect ratio that is 16x9 enhanced. A P&S transfer is also included on the DVD. Like the third entry, Critters 4
is a slightly step down from the first two. Once again there's a lot more grain present. Since much of the film takes place inside a ship, there's little light and often a low level of grain. The image is detailed and generally remains sharp. Colors seem a bit subdued, especially when compared to the first two. It's a bit surprising to see the latter two entries inferior to the first two, though I suppose being direct-to-video releases may have something to do with it as well.
Complaints and all, New Line did justice to the series as a whole. While the last two have some issues, they are still very find looking releases that were rated with a B and B-.
Both a Dolby Surround and a new Dolby 5.1 track are included. The first three had lackluster 5.1 tracks and the trend continues here. It's simply not needed, even for this fourth entry in space. There are some scenes that provide moderate LFE activity and even a bit more channel separation than the prior three, but overall it's underutilized. I'm sure there's little difference between the 5.1 and Surround tracks.
Once again no supplements are included. Like the prior three, a theatrical trailer is included and the disc is DVD-ROM enhanced.
The image has some flaws but more than sufficient and is no doubt the best Critters 4
has ever looked. It's disappointing to see the series go out on a whimper. I'm left wanting more and New Line failed to deliver. Hopefully someday another sequel, or even remake, can be created and given the proper budget. Until then, the best advice is to stick with the first two Critters
Movie - D
Image Quality - B-
Sound - B
Supplements - D
- Running time - 1 hour 34 minutes
- Rated PG-13
- 1 Disc
- Chapter Stops
- English Dolby Digital 5.1, Dolby Surround
- Theatrical trailer
- DVD-ROM Enabled