New Line Home Cinema presents
Critters 4 (1991)
"Oh, I'm in space, aren't I?"- Charlie (Don Opper)
Stars: Don Opper, Brad Dourif, Paul Whitthorne
Other Stars: Angela Bassett, Eric DaRe, Terrence Mann, Anders Hove, Martine Beswick
Director: Rupert Harvey
MPAA Rating: PG-13 for (brief nudity, language, mild gore)
Run Time: 01h:34m:20s
Release Date: 2003-08-05
DVD ReviewThe wheels really came off the track in 1991 for this fourth (and thankfully final) installment in the Critters series, and Critters 4 could easily rank as one of the most absolutely pointless films I have ever seen. You know a series is really reaching for a storyline when it has to go into space (Hellraiser, Leprechaun, Friday The 13th), and even though the Crites came from space originally, setting the story there reeks of desperation rather than any kind of implied closure.
Critters 4 opens with the closing credits sequence from Critters 3, with dopey Crite-hunting Charlie (Don Opper) being ordered, under violation of some "intergalactic zoological mandate", to launch the last two remaining Crite eggs into space, rather than destroy them. Logical insult is heaped upon viewers with a title card that announces the action is taking place "somewhere in Kansas," though the events at the end of the third film took place in Los Angeles. I pretty much knew at that point that if the movie didn't know where it was supposed to be taking place, I was going to be in for a bumpy ride. And I was right.
In predictable fashion, Charlie ends up locked inside the pod that contains the two eggs before it is launched into space, and though it is never really explained (there's a shocker), he is somehow able to remain alive inside as it travels through deep space, until he is picked up by the grubby scavenger ship, the RSS Tesla, in the year 2045. Yes, fifty years later. That's another indicator that a film is reaching, when it has to resort to the old "now it's fifty years later" subplot. Plus, it's really pointless in a series like this, where in earlier entries Charlie had already experienced spaceships and aliens.
The first real problem is that the Crites don't show up until 37 minutes in, and up until then the film is basically Alien-lite, as we meet the gruff crew of the Tesla, made up of such disparate but likeable actors as Brad Dourif, Eric (Twin Peaks) DaRe, and Angela Bassett, and when the rolling furballs finally do make their entrance everything turns into an unending ho-hum series of characters running desperately down twisty hallways, narrowly avoiding the toothy Crites.
In trying to make a film with a sci-fi look to it, director Rupert Harvey was seemingly enamored of the "giant computer screen graphics reflecting off faces" shot, because he uses it to distraction, to say nothing of the tired all-knowing-talking-computer, here voiced by Martine Beswick (Dr. Jekyll and Sister Hyde). The absence of any fragments of humor (a real requirement for a film like this) only makes it all the more difficult to sit through.
Rating for Style: C-
Rating for Substance: F
|Aspect Ratio||1.85:1 - Widescreen||1.33:1 - Full Frame|
|Original Aspect Ratio||yes||no|
Image Transfer Review: As they did with the other Critters films, New Line has issued Critters 4 in both 1.85:1 anamorphic widescreen, as well as 1.33:1 full frame. Both transfer look fairly good, with just a bit of noticeable compression issues in spots, but overall rather decent. Colors and fleshtones are on the mark, though black levels are a tad muddy.
Image Transfer Grade: B-
Audio Transfer Review: If I had to pick one thing that really stood out about the audio transfer is that the .LFE signal on the 5.1 track is friggin' deep. While maybe not the cleanest low frequency rumble I've ever heard, it did emit some major wall-rattling in my house. That's about all that's good here, because the dialogue is mixed terribly, and it was just plain difficult to discern what was being said at times. Rears are used infrequently (though to good effect at times), with most of the dialogue and moderate directional imaging residing in the front three channels.
An English 2.0 stereo surround track is also provided.
Audio Transfer Grade: C+
Disc ExtrasAnimated menu with music
Scene Access with 20 cues and remote access
Subtitles/Captions in English with remote access
1 Original Trailer(s)
3 Other Trailer(s) featuring Critters, Critters 2, Critters 3
Extras Review: No real extras to speak, other than a full set of trailers for all four Critters film, and a set of DVD-ROM accessible weblinks to New Line sites.
The disc is cut into 20 chapters, and features English subtitles.
Extras Grade: D+
Final CommentsPlain and simple, this movie is horrible. I'm just glad there isn't a "Critters 5."
Rich Rosell 2003-10-02