Critters 3 DVD Review

With an obviously reduced budget, "Critters 3" goes farther downhill with every passing minute. It lacks charm, humor, continuity, and decent acting. Oh, and it stars a very young Leonardo DiCaprio. That makes five strikes.

A father of two makes a trip to drop his children off in Los Angeles with friends of the family. Unbeknownst to them, the Crites, space-born garbage disposals, have laid their eggs on the underside of his truck. Now stuck inside the building with no way to communicate with the outside world, they have no choice but to make it to the roof and call for help.

Let's start with all the lapses in logic. First, their communication and power is cut, but not by the Critters. No, the "evil" landlord does and it never really makes any sense why. Second, a fire is started after one of the monsters attempts to eat a flare. This happens around the half hour mark. By the time the building actually becomes dangerous, everyone is on the roof. The fire never spreads past the basement. Third, though the building is huge, only about eight people must live in it. That, or no one else seems to notice the rather large intergalactic rat problem.

Each character is so underdeveloped, I'm not sure I even know the name of the father, and he's a main character. The only two characters you'll really know are his daughter Annie (Aimee Brooks) and Josh (that Dicaprio fella). Only a single character returns and that's Charlie (Don Keith Opper), town drunk turned bounty hunter. He gets 15-minutes of screen time not including a 10-minute flashback sequence that plays out more like a trailer. It's never explained why the Crites are still around (they were supposedly destroyed in the first sequel) or why Charlie is no longer the sheriff of Grovers Bend, the town that hosted the first two invasions.

Adding to the trouble is an awful soundtrack, one that never sounds serious enough to actually cause tension. In fact, all it really does is make everything seem comical. That's fine if the jokes work, but they don't. Yes, the Crites do manage to get a few moments to shine, but decent puppeteers must have been at a premium. The fact that they are just hand puppets is more obvious here than it ever was before.

Every time you think this movie is about to get good, it fails you. It has little in common with the originals (it barely tries to) and it just goes about never trying to be anything more than abysmal. This is a disgrace to the rather fine "Critters 2" and a disservice to fans of the series. (* out of *****)

Not surprisingly, the movie is presented on DVD like the rest in the series. Both the widescreen 1.85:1 transfer and pan & scan are contained on the same side. There are a ton of problems here, mostly caused by the dark interiors of the slum apartment building. Grain is just outrageously bad in a few places while a light layer remains over the entire movie. They did a fine job hiding the compression, even when the movie is lit by a bright red flare. Scenes shot in daylight look good too, but these are only a small part of the movie. (***)

The Dolby 5.1 mix here is weak, and that's being kind. Almost everything occurs in the center channel. You could watch this movie in mono and not know the difference. Your subwoofer won't even know you're watching a movie and the rear speakers will begin to wonder if they've been abandoned. Everything sounds clean with no real distortion, but it's hardly enough to excuse everything else wrong here. (**)

"Critters 3" goes all out to really provide an inside look at how this movie came together. Actually, wait, no it doesn't. All it gives you are trailers for each of the four movies in the series. Sorry about that. (*)

I can understand the budget restrictions here and compensate for them. I'm the type who religiously watches all of the Sci-Fi Channel's original movies each week so I know what can be done with a restriction like that. This should not be the result. If you need anymore proof, the next (and final) entry would go straight to video.

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