Big Ass Spider!

PLOT (spoiler alert!!!):

Alex Mathis (Greg Grunberg), a cash strapped but good natured exterminator, wakes up on the ground in the middle of a city being destroyed by a giant spider, which has climbed to the top of a giant skyscraper a la King Kong. The spider swats a helicopter which comes crashing down towards Alex as he looks up and the show blacks out. Cut to earlier that day, where we meet Alex proper, as he helps a crazy old lady with a rodent problem. She thanks him and wonders why such a great guy is still single. Alex notes he just hasn’t met the right women yet. Before he leaves she spots a poisonous spider on his arm and swats at it in spite of his warnings not to provoke it. Alex wakes in a hospital and is treated for the bite by a hot nurse who promptly rejects his flirtations. Meanwhile, a mortician is bitten by a rodent sized spider that crawls out of a dead body which just arrived at the hospital. Learning of this, Alex offer to take care of the hospital’s spider problem in exchange for clearing his hospital bill. Jose Ramos (Lombardo Boyar), a hospital security guard, offers to help Alex and the two enjoy a breezy friendship and hilarious dialogue throughout the movie as they pursue the spider.

Their first stop is the morgue, where Alex quickly deduces the now cat sized spider has escaped into a vent. Alex enters the vent and communicates with Jose via walkie talkie. Meanwhile, a military task force led by Major Braxton Tanner (Ray Wise) and lieutenant Karly Brant (Clare Kramer) show up at the hospital to examine the dead body the spider burst out of. They note that spider’s rate of growth is exponential and will soon be too big to stop. Meanwhile, the spider kills a paralyzed hospital patient who is unable to move or call for help. Back inside the air vent, Alex stumbles upon a section covered in spider webs and inadvertently gets stuck. He uses his lighter to burn the web and is surprised when it ignites as if it were soaked in gasoline. Alex exits the vent into a room in the hospital basement covered in webs. The spider appears behind him, readying to strike, but Karly shows up just in time to shoot it. The spider escapes into a grate down into the sewer where it promptly kills a homeless person. Alex is immediately enamored with Karly who tolerates his advances and offers to help but Major Braxton declines, especially when Alex presses him for answers on where the spider came from. Braxton warns Alex to stay out of his way, and he initially agrees, but Jose convinces him to continue their pursuit as it could be the most important thing either of them do with their lives and it might help with his lady problems.

The duo tracks the now elephant sized spider to a public park. Everyone at the park screams and runs for their lives as the spider snags victims with its web and stomps on / impales others with its giant legs. Alex and Joser get the spider to chase their car, luring it away from the park. Major Braxton sees aerial footage of the chase and Karly is impressed noting it’s Alex (who calls her during the chase). Eventually the duo lead the spider to the spot where the military are set up and a huge firefight ensues. It looks like they are going to kill it but the spider surprises them by making a giant leap over everything and escapes into some nearby woods. Again, Alex offers his assistance and again Major Braxton declines. Karly leads a group of soldiers armed to the teeth into the woods in spite of Alex’s warnings and they promptly get their asses kicked by the giant spider. Karly gets stuck in a web, but Alex shows up in time to free her using his lighter trick. The spider corners them but Jose shoots the spider with a machine gun he grabbed from a dead soldier. The trio almost all get away but the spider catches and cocoons Karly using its web. Alex is horrified as it escapes with her after more military show up and fire their guns at it. Alex and Jose demand to know more about the spider. Braxton reveals that they discovered some alien DNA and hoped to use it as a growth hormone (to perhaps solve the food crisis) but a spider’s nest was hidden in some test fruit exposing the spider to the alien DNA. It is also revealed that the spider will soon start reproducing based on its size and their studies of the alien DNA.

Alex and Jose head for the city, where the now enormous spider is rampaging through as seen in the opening scene. A piece of falling building causes their vehicle to crash the show blacks out. Alex wakes up as seen in the opening scene and finds Jose. The duo enters the giant skyscraper which the spider has climbed on top of. Major Braxton tells them Karly is located on one of the floors with the soon to be hatching spider eggs, and warns them of an impending airstrike (as the military can’t risk the eggs hatching). They get to Karly and free her just before the hatching baby spiders can get her, and make it out of the building seconds before the air strike hits. The giant spider roars and plummets to the streets below. Major Braxton congratulates Alex, noting he was wrong about him, but the feel good moment is short lived as the giant spider rises behind them, still alive. Alex theorizes if the spider’s webs are so flammable that maybe they can blow it up by shooting the part of the spider where the webs come out. Jose is amused by this plan as it basically boils down to “we have to shoot the spider in its ass” (as this is where the webs shoot out of). Alex distracts the spider and is almost stomped on / impaled several times while Jose grabs a bazooka from a fallen soldier. Jose tosses the bazooka to Alex who shoots the spider in its ass. The spider explodes, finally killing it. Alex embraces a more than willing Karly, and the two enjoy a passionate kiss. In a humorous scene after the end credits start rolling, Major Braxton calls Alex to tell him they have another problem and we see a giant cockroach climbing the Statue of Liberty in a video monitor in the background behind him.

REVIEW:

I recently noticed that every girl who I’ve been with has a deathly fear of spiders, hence the reason I tend to have to watch films about spiders alone, unless the subject is Spider-Man. They also have an issue with clowns, but that’s a story for when/if I watch a clown film. This brings us to Big Ass Spider! Obviously, by that title, this isn’t meant to be taken seriously, but is it any good?

What is this about?

A giant alien spider escapes from a military lab and rampage the city of Los Angeles. When a massive military strike fails, it is up to a team of scientists and one clever exterminator to kill the creature before the city is destroyed.

What did I like?

Growing menace. Obviously, the spider is the antagonist in the film. Because of that, it is kind of hard to develop the “character”, but by having the military (and that weird scientist guy) tell us how it is evolving, we get a sense of how much more dangerous it is becoming, not to mention the growth spurt it is going through. Had this been a true horror movie, the screams and level of terror would have risen with each stage the spider was entering.

Sidekick. Having a sidekick is great, especially when the hero really isn’t that charismatic. In Heroes, Greg Grunberg showed he was a likable guy and capable actor, but he just needs help in scenes. Perhaps that is why they cast him in the lead here, to give him a shot, and see what he can do with a capable sidekick, the “Mexican Robin”, as he calls him at one point. I think they make a great team and, should they turn this into a franchise, it would be interesting to see how their chemistry and relationship grows.

Likable military. You know, I get a lot of flack for my words against the military in films but, if you look at each film I’ve “bashed” them in, they are the ersatz bad guys. Last night I watched The Day the Earth Stood Still again and, again I have to say this, the military shot Klatuu as he was getting out of his ship without asking questions and again at the very end, they gunned him down, rather than take him in for questioning. This is just one example of a million times the military in movies does nothing more than throw their weight around because they have the means. This is why it was such a breath of fresh air to get a military that is somewhat likable in this film. Yes, they are behind the titular spider, but they aren’t hiding behind some phony story. They just want to destroy it. At one point, rather than level an entire city, they chose to let Grunberg’s character save the survivors before the airstrike. In most other films, this wouldn’t have happened. Kudos to these filmmakers for making that choice in military direction.

What didn’t I like?

Let’s get the mood right. This is a horror/comedy, a genre that generally isn’t well-respected, and for good reason. For the most part, it doesn’t take itself too seriously, but in pockets here and there, especially in the early half, it feels as if it doesn’t exactly know what tone to take. Should it be more on the horror/thriller side, setting up this giant spider that attacks from the shadows? Perhaps it should be more on the comedy side with the little Mexican cop with the untranslatable accent.

Better than Syfy, but… Syfy has made a name for themselves with cheesy “horror” flicks. Some of them tend to be decent, and others will make you want to sue the network for wasting your time. This film screams as if it were meant to be a Syfy flick, but for some reason they turned it down. Perhaps it is because the spider looks better than the creatures typically seen over there. That being said, it still isn’t a masterpiece in the field of CG, just passable in comparison.

Sack. In the climax, as Grunberg’s character is saving the “damsel in distress”, for lack of a better term, the eggs are hatching. Obviously, no one wants these things to get out and start an epidemic, so the situation needs to be contained. As they are escaping he starts squishing and they and the other survivors start shooting as they get on the elevator. After the escape comes the showdown with the original spider. Here’s the thing, the military shot the building, but they didn’t drop a bomb, fumigate, or anything like that. To me, that leaves the door open for those babies to run free, but the way the film makes it seem is as if they are all dead. WTF?!?

With a title like Big Ass Spider! you obviously are not meant to expect much. This turned out to be a lot of fun, much more than it had any right to be. This is the kind of B-movie you watch on a lazy weekend afternoon with your friends, laugh and have a good ol’ time with. Personally, I think they could have switched the Lieutenant and the nurse because the latter is more attractive than the former, but that’s just me. Go ahead and give this a shot, it will no doubt turn out to be one of those lesser films that will shock you, as long as you know better than to take it seriously. Just watch and have fun!

3 3/4 out of 5 stars

Advertisements

One Response to “Big Ass Spider!”

  1. Mystery Man Says:

    Reblogged this on Mr Movie Fiend's Movie Blog.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: