Tuesday, January 28, 2014

Big Ass Spider! (2013)

... aka: Biggest Spider
... aka: Megaspider
... aka: Mega Spider

Directed by:
Mike Mendez

Isn't 'Big Ass Spider' fun to say? I even cracked a smile telling a friend of mine "I'm about to watch 'Big Ass Spider'!" this evening. Hell, I may even have fun in the future saying "I watched 'Big Ass Spider' last month." Only I won't be doing so with quite the same level of enthusiasm I had before actually viewing the movie. I'll start by saying that I did not dislike this. It's an amiable, simple, good-natured, unpretentious, straightforward comic creature feature clearly made by well-intentioned people who probably had a great time making it. So why didn't I love it? Pretty simple: There's absolutely nothing here that I had not seen elsewhere numerous times before. That goes for the plot, all of the characters, the special effects, the cheeky self-aware sense of humor and the presentation of the material. One's overall enjoyment will likely depend on how familiar they are with similar 'giant mutant-monster on the loose' films. If you haven't seen a whole lot of these, you'll likely enjoy the light, goofy tone. However, if you're already well-versed on this stuff, you'll quickly realize this has nothing new to offer.

Hefty every man Greg Grunberg (from the TV series "Lost") plays the lead role as bug / pest exterminator Alex Mathis. After being bitten by a (regular) spider himself, Alex goes to the hospital for treatment. Down in the morgue, another much-larger, scientifically-altered alien spider erupts from the chest of one of the bodies. It bites a coroner, kills a patient, escapes into the sewers and eventually goes on a rampage throughout Los Angeles. With each new victim, the spider grows to a larger size; filling out five different growth stages that will end in the spider laying a bunch of eggs. Naturally, it must be stopped before that can happen and, despite the presence of the military (led by dependable character actor Ray Wise), Alex finds himself front and center in the battle, aided by security guard / "Mexican Robin" sidekick Jose (Lombardo Boyer, giving a very likable performance in a highly stereotyped role). Throw in a pretty love interest / damsel in distress (Clare Kramer) who figures during the KING KONG-inspired finale and that's pretty much all she wrote. This goes right down the monster movie cliché check-list without missing a beat, whilst unfortunately never once going outside the box.

I honestly didn't find the Alex character as endearing as I think the writers intended him to be. He's pushy, annoyingly presumptuous and even downright obnoxious at times. Since he's overweight, the script of course requires him to foolishly risk his life numerous times over in order to prove himself worthy of an attractive woman he doesn't even really know and one who otherwise wouldn't give him the time of day. That's fine and dandy (albeit typical), but that doesn't change the fact that this all falls into predictable TV sitcom style stereotype casting. You know, a tubby schlub with a heightened sense of his own desirability and zero self-awareness is paired up with a hot woman and we're supposed to automatically find it a charmingly oddball pairing. I assume this is supposed to be empowering to your Average Joe to show that even the hottest of hotties is not outside his reach, but it's this same routine handling of character dynamics that somewhat hamper an already-predictable film and keep it from rising above the norm. And I swear if I have to sit through another "comic" scene of a Mexican going into action accompanied by blaring mariachi music I'm gonna scream.

On the plus side, some of the banter between Alex and Jose is amusing, the CGI fx are pretty decent for a low-budget film (although they still look like something that'd be more at home in some video game), there's more gore than one might expect for a PG-13 rating and there are some very fun moments to be had in here, especially when the spider attacks a bunch of people in a park. There are also a few notable cameos as well, including the always-amusing Lin Shaye as one of Alex's neurotic customers, Troma's Lloyd Kaufman (who gets skewered) and directors Adam Gierasch (as a homeless guy who encounters the spider in the sewer) and Kevin Tenney (who can be spotted waiting in line at a hospital). None of the above can help this completely overcome the sheer predictability, but it's enough to keep the film watchable for 80 minutes. I've certainly seen better, but I've also seen a lot worse.

Christian-run small business destroyer Walmart is responsible for this moronic re-titling. (Notice they added lame graffiti over the "ass" but added "aka Big Ass Spider" in small print underneath it... What the hell?)

Originally called Mega Spider, which would doom something like to regular rotation on the SyFy Channel on name alone, someone (very wisely) decided to re-title this somewhere along the line, thus securing a limited theatrical release and decent DVD distribution.

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