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Friday, March 22, 2019

Critters A New Binge (2019)

This isn’t so much a review as it is my thoughts on the new Critters series that debuted on Shudder this week. I’m a huge fan of the original movies, and yes I even like those after Critters II, so I should be a mark for this new series. I sat down and watched all the episodes last night and I was really disappointed.

Not really interested in the characters
My first complaint has to do with the presentation of the series in these short nine or ten minute long episodes. We only get eight of them so after you cut out the couple minutes of credits, we have maybe seventy minutes of material total. I blame this on the fact that the series was originally supposed to appear on some Verizon streaming service which I suppose means it was meant to watch on your phone? Not sure if that was the idea but there wasn’t enough material for a single episode much less a feature film or a series.

I also noticed while watching them that they have a choppy feel to the narrative that makes the entire story not flow well at all. Again, I’m assuming they thought that you would watch one here and there while waiting in line at the drive thru to pick up your lunch? Though I think that most people consume stuff like this in “binges”, basically all at once. That is what I did, and I found the series uneven. When a nine minutes episode isn’t holding my attention, you know its bad.

The show did do a great job with the practical effects work on the Critters going with old school puppets. There are several feature characters with their own look and of course they crack wise and land a few funny jokes. But the second half to a Critters movie are the human characters and this is where the series misses the point. Go back and watch the original movies and you will see that they have a strong cast to play off of the wisecracking creatures. This is especially so for the first couple entries in the series. Here I found the cast bland and wasn’t at all interested. Well except for an unexpected appearance from Gilbert Gottfried who shows up for a couple of scenes as Uncle Murray. He has the best and honestly the only memorable lines from any of the humans.

They at least got the Critters right. Still not enough though.
While I did like the practical approach of the Critters the series is guilty of some horrible CGI effects. One of the gags in the movie is that the bounty hunters, because there always have to be bounty hunters, crash land in Australia and have to run to Iowa. Hilarious right? Yeah well not really. With no budget they thought ‘Hey let’s just use a green screen’. Which means you get not one but two sequences of the actors running in place with a generic desert being projected behind them. I’ve seen YouTube videos with far better production values than this.

Be aware that the next paragraph contains some spoilers.  I could go on and mention that whomever wrote the script either had never seen a Critters movie or if they did just didn’t care about the established formula. Flipping it around in a ham-fisted manner making the Critters the good guys… but then not really. Oh, and the bounty hunters are bad guys and stay that way. There isn’t anyone to root for in the damn thing! Again, they miss the point of the human protagonists in the earlier movies. There is also a really dumb twist that doesn't fit at all with the rest of the franchise.

This thing is a mess that I think will disappoint all fans of the movie series. It certainly annoyed me and made me want my hour back. My hope is that someone decides to revive the franchise like they did with the recent Leprechaun sequel. I’d love to see the Critters back in action in a proper movie.

© Copyright 2019 John Shatzer

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