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Critters Attack! (Blu-ray Review)

Hey, the Critters are back! All right! Well, they came back already this year with Shudder’s Critters: The First Binge back in March. But now we are getting a sequel to the original film series with Critters Attack! This one also boasts the return of Dee Wallace to the series for the first time since the original film. Warner Bros will be putting the movie out on Blu-ray on July 23rd, but this is in anticipation of some big SyFy Channel premiere of the film later this year or something or other is what I gather. If you want to have it next to your Scream Factory box set and actually own the thing (AND see it before its TV debut), then you go right ahead, scroll down, and click on the Amazon link where you can secure yourself a copy of this return to the little hedgehog-ish, ball rollings, human eating furrballs known as the Critters.

Film 

Dee Wallace (E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial), who starred in the original Critters as Helen Brown, will sink her teeth into the franchise for a second time in the mysterious role of Aunt Dee. Inspired by the film series from the ’80s and ’90s, Critters follows 20-year-old Drea (Tashiana Washington), who reluctantly takes a job babysitting for a professor of a college she hopes to attend. Struggling to entertain the professor’s children Trissy (Ava Preston) and Jake (Jack Fulton), along with her own little brother Phillip (Jaeden Noel), Drea takes them on a hike, unaware that mysterious alien critters have crash-landed and started devouring every living thing they encounter.

While being tracked by the ravenous critters, Drea and the kids encounter an adorable, seemingly harmless female critter named Bianca, an exiled royal fleeing the critter race. As the critters converge on the college campus, Drea and the kids, who are now inextricably linked to Bianca, rush to head them off. Will Drea discover her inner badass, and will it be enough to stop the critter onslaught? And is the critter princess as innocent as she seems?

Critters was originally considered a Gremlins knock off, but really was very much its own thing. 4 sequels later here, with Attack! and we see that one REALLY does borrow from Gremlins. The narrative here with the 5th film in the series and its characters try best to relate to Joe Dante’s classic. Being true to brand, the leads in the film skew younger and they also give us a female Critter who is on the side of good that acts a sort of Gizmo surrogate in this here Critter-land.

Beyond using puppets and prosthetics, Attacks! scales things back to very very basics while trying to stay true to the earlier Critter films and trying its best to make a film that fits there. Honestly, this is a unique Critter film. The film very much loves the 1980s, from its child sense of adventure, to the Critter designs and then the super cool score. It focuses a lot on our characters and their personal dramas when flipping back between alien furball eatings.

Dee Wallace is a welcomed return here. Though you can tell she was written in knowing they probably had a limited time shooting with her. Wallace makes the best of it and truly looks to be having good fun while their. Our man follows are a group of kids and they are pretty fun rag tag group that helps get us through this thing. Overall, this does look, feel and play a little too much like a TV production, but its also pretty swiftly paced and is fun to watch the puppets, effects and Dee Wallace in action. Fans should have a decent time with this “back to basics” approach to the Critter films.

Video 

Encoding: MPEG-4 AVC

Resolution: 1080p

Aspect Ratio: 1.78:1

Layers: BD-50

Clarity/Detail:  Critters Attack! arrives on Blu-ray with a pretty solid, digital looking picture. Its a bright, sharper image with good attention to details. The textures on the Critter hair and details of the puppets come through quite clear and wonderfully here in the image. The image does look very made-for-tv, but its presentation here is rock solid.

Depth:  Decent spacing and free flowing imagery here. Motion is smooth and natural, with no issues regarding motion distortions during any sort of rapid action.

Black Levels:  Blacks are a little on the slightly grayer side, but they can get deep in some of the details like the Critter’s themselves. Some mild crushing does occur in some moments.

Color Reproduction:  Colors are pretty good and well saturated. Not a whole lot really pops, unless its a light or something naturally stinging of course. However, colors are quite bold with many different ranges of shades.

Flesh Tones:  Skin tones are natural and consistent start to finish. Facial features showcase makeup, wrinkles, dried blood, covered up acne and more from any reasonable given camera distance.

Noise/Artifacts: Clean

Audio 

Audio Format(s): English 5.1 DTS-HD MA, Spanish 5.1 DTS-HD MA

Subtitles: English SDH, French, Spanish, Danish, Finnish, Norwegian, Swedish

Dynamics:  Critters Attack! in either English or Spanish. The mix and surround really capture and have fun with the score making for some good depth.  There is a good balance between vocals, effects and music here as well. Its plenty loud and has some fun with speaker play from time to time. In all honesty, this does what you need it to, with some extra efforts time to time. Its the finest you could probably ask for with something this low budget.

Height: N/A

Low Frequency Extension:  The subwoofer is a decent contributor here. It thumps harder when it has to, but most of the time its about on the medium end of powerful impact.

Surround Sound Presentation:  This is mostly a front-heavy track, but the rears do participate in more than just ambiance and score in a few sequences. Motion is plenty accurate as is volume placement for actions.

Dialogue Reproduction: Vocals are pretty good, with nice clarity and depth.

Extras 

Audio Commentary

  • Scene Specific Audio Commentary with Bobby Miller and Marty Krite

Critters Attack! comes with the standard DVD edition and a digital copy of the film.

Engineering Gore: Designing Critters (HD, 8:02) – Cast and crew (Including Dee Wallace) talk about the decision to go practical and make robotic critters. People go over how it felt working with them and how they made them effective in the film. Has plenty of behind the scenes footage of the effects people on set in action and in the shop.

Critters: An Out-of-this-World-Experience (HD, 6:58) – Bobby Miller, Dee Wallace, cast and crew talk doing another movie and wanting to keep true to the series and make the fans happy while expanding on things as well. This is basically your little “Making of” featurette.

The Critter Ball (HD, 1:55) – This one talks about the Critter ball in the film and unveils that some of the original Critter puppets from the 1980s were used on it.

Trailers – Annabelle Comes Home, Joker

Summary 

Critters Attack! is purely Critters comfort food. And I think Warner Bros does a solid with that food’s presentation on Blu-ray. The video and audio are above average here and get the job done with enough success. It even comes with some fun little extras that make for a nice little package. Dee Wallace is the cool type that comes back for the interviews and is never too good for the material. For a nice decent price, this is worth the get if you’re a Critters fan.

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Writer/Reviewer, lifelong obsessive film nerd. As eager to educate in the world of film as I am to learn. An avid lover of horror, schlock and trash, Brandon hosts the Cult Cinema Cavalcade podcast on the Creative Zombie Studios Network (www.cultcinemacavalcade.com) You can also find more essays on his blog Naptown Nerd (naptownnerd.blogspot.com).

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