I’m not sure when something passes from being homage to outright theft, but “Critters 4” skirts very close to the line. This movie, set entirely in space, has two sections lifted straight from “Star Wars” – one where the characters fall into a giant waste disposal area; and a group of soldiers later in the movie who are all dressed almost identically to Darth Vader. I wonder what they were hoping to achieve with this? Perhaps they wanted to get sued to generate some publicity. Perhaps it was all a huge coincidence and they’d never even seen Star Wars!
After the “to be continued” of part 3, Charlie gets trapped on the rescue pod sent down to save the last two critter eggs in the Universe. Off into space he goes, and we then cut to 2045. We get quite a lot of information, and I’d like to discuss it with you, dear reader, to show…actually, I’ve got no idea, but it doesn’t reflect well on this movie. So, we have the “Intergalactic Council”, who want those eggs. We have Ug and Charlie, who work for them as bounty hunters. All this happens in 1992-time.
In 2045 time, quite a few things have changed. At some point (presumably very quickly after the pod set off from Earth) the Intergalactic Council dissolved. Humanity, via the all-encompassing Terracorp, has figured out faster-than-light travel, and now not only completely dominates the galaxy but has had time to both build and abandon multiple gigantic space stations. None of this makes a lick of sense.
A salvage ship picks up the pod, and rather than just sell it as scrap they’re contacted by Terracorp, who asks them to take it to one of their stations. The rep from Terracorp is Ug, our friend from the first two movies, only he’s got a different name and…
Sorry for breaking off that sentence. But I wanted welcome “Critters 4” to the Dropped Plot Thread Hall of Fame! “Critters 4” must have had a very odd genesis, as they introduce an absolute ton of things that are then completely ignored or glossed over. To whit:
- The teenager on the ship and his Dad
- Heck, any reason for that ship’s existence (salvage is just my best guess)
- Why the space station was abandoned (they hint it might be another different evil alien species)
- Why Ug went from space bounty hunter to Earth corporate guy
- Why the captain was so desperate to get into the pod
The rest of it is just a catalogue of baffling decisions and stuff that just doesn’t make any sense, as the critters get out, multiply pretty quickly and go a’killin. Thrill to the creatures which are, at best, hours old knowing how to use a computer on an alien (to them) base, programming a route to get back to Earth (which they’d last seen as eggs)! Wow as no-one says “hey, should we get off this base maybe?” Be amazed as Charlie, who was once a space bounty hunter himself, proves himself too stupid to live on multiple occasions! Exclaim in delight as one critter gets frozen to death and his killer says “chill out”! Cheer at re-use of footage of Ug’s ship from part 2! Get wild at perhaps the worst soliloquy in movie history!
This is by far the worst of the four, and it’s sad they left it on such a sour note, as the first two films were fine silly, sub-Gremlins fun. It’s got a decent cast – joining Terrence Mann and Don Opper (Charlie) are Angela Bassett, Brad Dourif and Eric DaRe – and sets re-used from 1982’s “Android” (as well as the Terracorp concept), which Opper also co-starred in, but it just feels like they were half-way through making a movie then had to change everything, for reasons unknown. If they’d gone camp with the stupid choices made by every character, then it might have been fun, but Charlie remains the sole comic relief and by comic relief I mean “appears dangerously stupid at all times”.
Perhaps the worst thing about all this is how irrelevant the critters are. The real ending is Charlie vs. Ug (spoiler alert, I guess?) and the critters themselves are ignored almost completely for the last twenty minutes or so of the movie. If anyone knows quite why this movie was so appallingly bad, please tell me because I’m annoyed by it all. Screw you and your stupid Aliens-meets-Star-Wars-meets-head-injury garbage…actually, the space station computer I liked, but two good jokes in this morass of crap is not good enough.
Rating: thumbs down