Critters 2: The Main Course offers a heaping helping of everything that’s missing from the first film: a reasonably intelligent and witty script, a supple and unchained playfulness, and an anarchic mélange of diverse genre riffs. If the original Critters was a sorry replay of Gremlins, then Main Course anticipates the barn-burning Gremlins 2: The New Batch, which took the baton and ran headlong into becoming the only satisfying send-up of disaster films until Tim Burton’s Mars Attacks. Director Mick Garris (who went on to direct the ABC miniseries The Stand) clearly understands the ins and outs of sci-fi camp and comes up with a fizzy, fast-paced, totally rude good time. The film picks up a few years after the original when Brad (Scott Grimes, who’s matured from the young punk of the first film to a now dorky pubescent boy) returns home from school for Easter. No sooner does he arrive than a nest of Critter eggs hatches a new litter of tiny devils that wreak havoc on the close-knit rural town. There’s not a genre that Garris doesn’t poke a little fun at—High Noon westerns, Terminator-styled hyper-artillery carnage, and, what with the incessant “Hungry Heifer” theme song, country musicals as well. Garris and co-scriptor David Twohy also have some fun with such New Line good-time taboos as veganity and gender identity. For example, one of the shape-shifting bounty hunters explains that the other one can’t seem to settle on a persona because he hasn’t felt comfortable in anyone’s skin yet. Sure enough, when he stumbles upon a copy of Playboy and assumes the identity of a centerfold, he’s surprised at how at home he feels in her skin. Also, the passing blow against WASP religiousness of the first Critters (“Today we’re delving into Sodom and Gomorrah”) is turned up a notch with such witticisms as “40 minutes to the Resurrection.” Without ever going far enough into a satirical la-la land to risk offending the tender sensibilities of the core audience, Garris and Twohy’s spin on the Critters legacy represents the possibilities opened up when a mid-range cult item turns into a franchise.
For a film that most would have been comfortable taping from USA's old "Up All Night," New Line's video transfer for Critters 2 is pristine. A crisp, well-rounded color palate, with acceptable dark levels and bright lights, and no noticeable artifacts. You can choose between the anamorphic widescreen presentation or the pan & scan. Garris's eye for framing suggests that you might choose the former, but, like with the original Critters, the latter might be the format you've come to know and love. The same dilemma applies to the sound mix, which can be either the original stereo or a new 5.1 mix; the only difference is in the latter's directionality with isolated effects compared to the original.
Nothing apart from four slabs of epochal New Line trailers for Critters parts one though four (which afford incongruous glimpses of Angela Bassett and Leonardo DiCaprio).
That rare sequel which improves on its original, which, in this case, wasn't that hard to do.