It is always somewhat bittersweet to see the last movie in a franchise. After all, you invest a part of yourself in watching this series so when there are no more movies, it makes sense to feel a little sad, even if it is a lesser known series. So, we were left with a cliffhanger at the end of the last movie. Let’s see how they decided to finish the series with today’s movie, Critters 4.
The plot: Following the events of the last movie, Charlie finds the last two Crite eggs and is about to destroy them when he gets a message from Ug, saying not to and that a preservation pod is being dispatched to pick them up. When the pod crashes into the basement of the building, Charlie goes inside to secure the eggs, but the hatch closes and the cryogenic gas issues forth, rendering Charlie unconscious as the pod rockets off into space. Decades later, in the year 2045, a spaceship, captained by Rick Buttram and crewed by Al “Albert” Bert, Fran, Bernie, and Ethan, find the pod floating in space and decide to retrieve it. As they are scanning the pod, Ethan notices something and has Bernie move the scanner back and they discover the seal for the old Intergalactic Council on the pod. Fran realizes that they won’t be able to salvage it if it belongs to someone and after some searching, discovers that the pod is being claimed by a company called TerraCor. They receive a communication from Councilor Tetra, who thanks them fro discovering the pod, which was thought lost long ago, and offers them three times the salvage rate if they bring it to a nearby station. Fran, Albert, and Bernie want to take the offer but Rick considers rejecting it, while Ethan agrees with Rick as it means it will take longer for him to get back home to Earth, but Rick eventually agrees to the deal and they head to the station. When they arrive at the station, they discover that it is completely abandoned and that the computer AI, called Angela, is malfunctioning. Albert heads to the control room and checks the stations systems and learns that while things are mostly ok, the station’s nuclear reactor is leaking but he figures it will be at least a month before there is a meltdown. As they wait for Tetra to arrive, Rick decides to try and break open the pod and take what is inside for himself. Meanwhile, Albert figures out that Angela simply does the opposite of what she is told and when an energy blast is registered on the systems, he sends Ethan to check it out. Ethan manages to make his way to the dock and finds Rick opening the pod and Rick offers to cut Ethan in on his plan but when Ethan refuses to abandon the others, Rick knocks him out. Ethan gets the pod open and as he starts to get inside, he is met by Charlie, who is happy to be out of the pod until he realizes he is outer space again and notices Ethan suspended from some chains. Rick decides to check and see if anything else is in the pod and discovers the broken egg shells, just before he is attacked by the two baby Critters. As Charlie tries to save him, Rick is killed by the Critters, who then escape into the stations ventilation system as Charlie fires Rick weapon at them. When Albert sees the energy discharge on the computer, he realizes what Rick was planning and heads down there with Fran and Bernie. Meanwhile, Charlie frees and revives Ethan and then heads out to hunt the critters, with Ethan following behind him. Eventually, they come across a lab of some sort and as Charlie convinces Ethan to help him search a vent, the inadvertently find themselves in a disposal tube and dropped into the waste unit. When the waste unit is about to be ejected into space, they manage to open a grate and escape, where they are eventually found by Bernie. Charlie tries to explain what happened but when he learns that he has been in the pod for 53 years, and everyone he knows on Earth is now most likely dead, he passes out. Ethan uses an ID card he found to access a computer log, where they learn that the station was being used to turn alien life forms into bio-weapons. As Albert and Fran argue over whether they should stay, Bernie decides to raid the station’s pharmacy for medicine to sell on the black market. Albert and the others see the Critters approaching Bernie on the scanner and try to warn him but he ends up being killed. The others head to try and save Bernie but are too late, then find themselves trapped as the station says the reactor is going critical. As Charlie and the others try to make their way to the ship to escape, the two Critters are using the station’s computers to program the ship to fly them to Earth, then one goes off to get the eggs while the other heads to the ship to get it ready. Charlie reach the ship and Charlie is given an old revolver to guard them while the others get the ship ready to fly. When the Critter shows up, Charlie manages to kill it but damages the ship in the process, trapping them on the station. With no choice but to wait for the TerraCor ship to arrive, Ethan gets angry and decides to go hunt the last Critter himself. Ethan heads to the lab and finds another batch of eggs and the last Critter is using the lab’s machinery to grow the freshly hatched Critters to full size in minutes and goes to warn the others. When Tetra’s ship approaches, Charlie, Fran, and Albert head out to meet them and Charlie is surprised to find that Tetra is actually his friend Ug, the shape shifting bounty hunter. When Fran and Albert question what Tetra is doing, Tetra slaps Fran to the ground, then shoots Albert before ordering his men to search for the eggs. Charlie questions Tetras as to what happened to him and Tetra tells him, “Things change, Charlie. Things change.” Unnoticed by the others, Ethan witnesses Tetra killing Albert and, using Angela’s help, manages to seal off the doorways in order to steer Tetra’s men to the lab, where he seals them in and leaves them to be killed by the Critters. Ethan then heads back to the passageway to find some of the eggs they found earlier and heads back to the dock. Ethan reveals himself to the others as he begins juggling the eggs, breaking two of them before tossing the last one to Tetra. Fran uses the distraction to pistol whip Tetra with the revolver Ethan had hidden behind his back, then goes to get Tetra’s ship ready to fly. Ethan goes to pay his respects to Albert when he is attacked by one of the Critters and manages to freeze it with some of the coolant gas. As Ethan is about to board the ship, he finds Tetra pointing his gun at his head. As Tetra prepares to shoot, Charlie points the revolver at Tetra and when Tetra questions whether Charlie will be able to pull the trigger, Charlie tells Tetra, “Things change”, then shoots Tetra in the head as he tries to shoot Charlie. As the station announces it will explode soon, the three board the ship and leave before the explosion occurs and prepare to head back to Earth.
The last movie in the series tried to go out with a bang, but felt more like a pop. The acting was ok, with Don Keith Opper doing a great job reprising his role as Charlie and actually showing some growth in the character. Of the other actors, Paul Whitthorne (Ethan), Angela Bassett (Fran), and Brad Dourif (Albert) also did good jobs but Terrence Mann (Tetra/Ug) was incredibly stiff in his acting, even more so than his character called for. The story was actually somewhat interesting though it did kind of borrow from some other sci-fi movies, especially Aliens in regarding using alien creatures as bio-weapons. I also like that they did a good job of closing any lingering plot holes that might have been left. The special effects were decent for the most part though there were some times that they looked cheap but that was mostly some of the outer space shots of the ships flying. All in all, a decent movie to close out the series but it doesn’t hold up much on it’s own.
Rating: 2 1/2 out of 5