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Movie Review: "Critters 3" (1991)
"Critters 2: The Main Course" seemed to have wrapped things up pretty neatly by the end of the film. All the critters were killed, there were no more eggs, Charlie gave up space-travelling and bounty hunting to get demoted to town Sheriff, and everybody lived happily ever after. But no... it was time to cash-in once again, even if it meant going straight-to-video with a plot that doesn't make any sense.
"Critters 3" takes the critters out of the small town setting and puts them in an apartment building. Let's backtrack a little here though. First, we're introduced to our new cast of characters -- There's the female teenage protagonist (Annie), her younger brother (Johnny), and their widowed father who doesn't know how to have fun anymore (Clifford).
This family of three are on their way back to their apartment after a vacation when their tire pops. After pulling over at the side of the road, Annie and Johnny decide to do some exploring while Clifford fixes the tire. They run into another family whom is resting there which includes the corrupt landlord of their apartment building and his son/love interest, Josh (played by Leonardo DiCaprio in his film debut).
While playing around, they accidentally bump into Charlie MacFadden, the film's big hero and only returning character from the first two 'Critters' films. Charlie is decked out in his Sheriff uniform along with some other questionable gear and is hellbent on hunting down the last remnants of the critters. He tries to warn the kids but they pass it off as nonsense.
Soon enough, we're back on the road again with the family. They arrive at their apartment, unknowingly bringing a batch of critters with them. These little nasty beings first set up camp in the building's basement, killing the handyman and eventually starting a fire which entraps the rest of the tenants. The end result is "Critters" meets a poor-man's version of "The Towering Inferno".
Critters 3: The New Batch
Here's the plot hole that proves this movie serves no purpose. I pose the question... where did these new critters come from? At the end of "Critters 2: The Main Course", they were all killed, no more eggs, no cliffhangers (like at the end of the first "Critters"). One might argue that the batch from "Critters 2" had laid a few eggs on the outskirts of town but this is never really made clear to us. It just shows us that Charlie is trying to find and kill the last of them.
Buy "Critters 3" on DVD
Throughout the course of the first three "Critters" movies, the character of Charlie MacFadden has gone from town drunk and loser ("Critters") to space bounty hunter and then town Sheriff ("Critters 2: The Main Course") and back down to wandering loser in a Sheriff's uniform, holding a big gun.
Now this is very questionable. This guy is still the Sheriff of Grover's Bend, right? At least, that's what we are given at the end of part 2. So why is away from town, digging for more critters in the most random of places? "Critters 3" treats Charlie more like a roach exterminator more than anything else.
The Low-Budget Inferno
As I mentioned earlier, this movie attempts to blend "Critters" and "The Towering Inferno", so to speak. I'll admit that the idea of adding a fire in to further trap the tenants in the building with these nasty little things was a good idea, but the execution here just sucks. "Critters 3" is standard, low-budget direct-to-video fare and it shows.
With a bigger budget, this film could have been set in a luxurious Manhattan-style hotel with the fire playing a much bigger role than it did here. In "Critters 3", all we really see is lots of smoke here and there, a few flames, and an apartment that's been set ablaze. Speaking of fires, why does the building in this movie seem to have no fire alarms or fire escapes? Now that's pretty disturbing management.
Going even further with that, the fire starts during night time but the fire department doesn't even show up until following morning (Huh!?). Mind you, this building is located in a city that is surrounded by other apartment buildings. Even random people passing by on the street could have noticed what was happening. Yet nobody bothered to call 911? I'm surprised the building was still in one piece by the next day.
Random Things That Make No Sense
- While both families are resting beside the road, just before the kids run into Charlie, Johnny is just about to go exploring down a ditch. Josh (DiCaprio) stops him, warning that there could be all types of dangerous animals down there. Yet, moments later, Josh is going down the same ditch to retrieve a ball that they were playing with which ends up down there.
- During dinner, Clifford and his family are all drinking water by itself with their food. Who the heck drinks water alone with their dinner? Wouldn't it make more sense to drink something that has a taste (i.e. a juice or soda) and then a glass of water afterwards?
- In a scene later on in the film, the phone company lady attempts an escape from the building's roof but ends up dangling upside-down from a power-line, only a few feet from the ground. There's a telephone booth close to her but she can't fully reach it because her foot is stuck on the power-line. Let me rephrase that, it's not really stuck, she's just really retarded. See, the top of her foot is hanging down on the cord so all she has to do is reach up with her hands, grab the cord to give her some leverage, pull her foot out and let herself drop down safely on the concrete. But no, she decides to spend what seems like 10-15 minutes trying to swing back and forth, while upside-down, to reach the phone booth in order to call for help. So much for being an employee of the phone company, I thought she said she could do "anything" (as she stated a few times earlier in the film).
- When the kids first run into Charlie at the beginning of "Critters 3", he gives Johnny a small blank crystal which is supposed to glow green whenever there's trouble (i.e. you've got an infestation of critters). After the critters are killed at the end and the tenants are saved, Charlie asks to see the crystal which is no longer glowing green. However, in the next scene, Charlie is looking around in the building's basement and finds two more eggs just before the end credits roll. So, um, shouldn't the crystal still be glowing green?
What Should Have Been Done
What "Critters 3" really needed was a bigger budget and a better script. Set the film in one of Manhattan's (or some other big city) high-class hotels, it could even be a brand new one that is fictional, and make the fire as a more threatening element of the story. Also, leaving Charlie out of this would have probably been a good idea as well, his arc was pretty much complete by the end of "Critters 2: The Main Course".
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