New Line Home Cinema presents
Critters 2 (1988)
"Bradley Brown. I haven't seen you in a long time. How's your little space monsters?"- Wesley (Tom Hodges)
Stars: Scott Grimes, Don Opper, Terrence Mann, Liane Curtis
Other Stars: Cynthia Garris, Tom Hodges, Barry Corbin, Eddie Deezen, Frank Birney, Herta Ware, Lin Shaye
Director: Mick Garris
MPAA Rating: PG-13 for (mild gore, brief nudity, language)
Run Time: 01h:25m:40s
Release Date: 2003-08-05
DVD ReviewCritters 2: The Main Course is one of those rare low-budget sequels that is actually far better than the original, and while that might not seem like particularly high praise it does mean that this is an unexpectedly breezy, fun little horror/sci fi/comedy. Gone is original director Stephen Herek, and in his place this time is Mick Garris, who is best known for directing made-for-television adaptations of Stephen King stories (The Stand, The Shining, as well as the upcoming Desperation).
It has been two years since the events of Critters, and the sleepy town of Grovers Bend, Kansas has seemingly recovered from its last bout with the hungry alien furballs known as Crites. Bradley Brown (Scott Grimes), the young star of the first film who here sports a trendy earring, returns to town on Easter break to visit his health-food conscious grandmother Nana (Herta Ware), who runs a day care center in his old home. As bad luck would have it, a batch of leftover Crite eggs have been discovered by a pair of unsavory locals, and when they hatch the town is quickly overrun by the toothy aliens, and thankfully the shape-shifting bounty hunters from Critters, along with bounty-hunter-in-training Charlie (Don Opper) return to try and save the day.
The general rule that sequels are weaker doesn't apply here, and Garris manages to roll out a darkly richer, and certainly more comedic film than the original, including a wonderfully bizarre little sequence involving the Easter Bunny, Crites, and a Sunday morning church service. Even the gore quotient gets upped a little here, though still within the framework of the PG-13 guidelines, and features a nicely done man-getting-eaten-by-a-huge-rolling-ball-of-Crites moment. And if that weren't enough, Garris even throws in some brief nudity, as one of the shape-shifting bounty hunters (played by Cynthia "Mrs. Mick" Garris) adopts the nicely proportioned body of a Playboy Playmate, complete with staple in her navel.
Casting-wise, only Bradley (Grimes), Charlie (Don Opper) bounty hunter Ug (Terrence Mann) and ditzy dispatcher Sal (Lin Shaye) return from the first film, and the town sheriff Harv, who was originally played by M. Emmet Walsh, is here played by the equally enjoyable Barry Corbin. The supporting players, on the other hand, are the usual batch of one-dimensional stock characters you would expect in a film like this, with easily identifiable, equally one-dimensional roles (the tough guy, the cute girl, the soft-talking preacher, the crusty local).
Thankfully the creature effects are slightly better, and while the Crites still look like the puppets that they are, they are not nearly as stiff as they were in the first film. But the plus here is that Garris delivers broader, well-placed comedic moments (despite the presence of annoying perennial 1980s movie nerd Eddie Deezen), which makes the less-than-perfect Crites seem all the more acceptable. The Critters series will obviously never be mistaken for high art or classy cinema, and while this sequel is logically uneven at times (wow, there's a shocker), it remains entertaining and inordinately silly.
Rating for Style: B
Rating for Substance: B
|Aspect Ratio||1.85:1 - Widescreen||1.33:1 - Full Frame|
|Original Aspect Ratio||yes||no|
Image Transfer Review: New Line has done another great job on the image transfer for Critters 2: The Main Course, once again providing a 1.85:1 anamorphic widescreen as well as a 1.33:1 fullframe transfer. The colors here are bold and bright without smearing, with fleshtones that appear natural, and there is even a noticeable improvement on the black levels, which are deeper and less murky than on the original Critters. No major compression issues or source print defects were apparent.
Image Transfer Grade: B
Audio Transfer Review: The new Dolby Digital 5.1 surround track on Critters 2: The Main Course has occasional moments of deep bass rumbles and a couple of particularly good rear channel cues, and while far from perfect, is a fuller, cleaner mix than was found on the remix of Critters. Imaging across the front channels is more pronounced (though a tad artificial), with dialogue consistently discernible and mixed well above the swirling Nicholas Pike score, which sounds as if it was taken from a discarded John Williams scorebook.
An English 2.0 stereo surround track is also provided.
Audio Transfer Grade: B
Disc ExtrasAnimated menu with music
Subtitles/Captions in English with remote access
1 Original Trailer(s)
3 Other Trailer(s) featuring Critters, Critters 3, Critters 4
Extras Review: The extras consist of trailers for all four Critters films, and a dopey DVD-ROM interface that connects to more New Line promotional filler.
The disc is cut into 20 chapters, and includes optional English subtitles.
Extras Grade: D
Final CommentsEasily the best entry in the Critters oeuvre, this one benefits from slightly better looking beasties, a couple of terrific attack sequences, sharper comedy, the Hungry Heifer theme song, and even a brief bit of seldom seen PG-13 nudity, courtesy of Cynthia Garris.
Rich Rosell 2003-09-02