Movie Meltdown

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Eight CG Arms to Hold You


     by Bryan Renfro

     What can I say about the movie "Spiders"?? Well I can tell you this, they are not misleading you with the title. There are in fact - spiders. Many spiders. Mutant spiders. Giant spiders. Space spiders!! In fact, it's the fun setup that made me want to watch this movie to begin with. An orbiting satellite from the former Soviet Union crashes to Earth right in the middle of New York City! And as if that wasn't enough - it's literally crawling with spiders!! Or spider? There seems to be one in particular that starts all the trouble... but from there all hell breaks loose! 

     Millennium Entertainment's 2013 release "Spiders" centers on a transit supervisor working on the day the arachnids crash land in New York. It starts off sort of like "The Taking of Pelham 123", except if the money-grubbing hijackers were instead spiders from outer space. And it's up to subway worker Jason Cole and his recently divorced former spouse, health inspector Rachel Cole, to save the day! Or maybe not, but it's at least it's up to them to get caught up in all the spider-infested drama.

     This sort of fun throwback to classic 50's giant monster science fiction is exactly the kind of thing I am drawn to - and the kind of thing I should really enjoy. In fact, just describing the plot above sounds like a lot of fun. Unfortunately, I wasn't nearly as entertained by the actual movie... as the "idea" of the movie. In actually, I found myself getting bored midway into the plot. And truthfully I'm not even sure why. It's not that anything in this movie is done terribly. In fact, it's actually a cut above the standard straight-to-video sci fi action movie. I was expecting the lame acting and bad CGI of your typical movie playing on the SYFY channel. As it turns out the acting is much better then those phoned-in performances from celebrities on hard times. And the CG effects aren't bad. They aren't major motion picture quality, more like the budget of a well financed TV series. But most of the special effects look decent, or at lease as serious as a movie about giant spiders gnashing out at you with pointy teeth will allow.

     So I guess it's just that the plot and characters aren't really that engaging. The performances are all right, but these actors aren't really drawing you into what's going on around them. And once you get past the basic set-up and they move into the second half of the action, which just involves the two leads running around a handful of similar looking streets, you start to wonder how much time is left on this thing? Or at least I did. Which is strange, because the most entertaining action scenes are in the last half of the movie. As the size of the creepy crawlers continues to increase! (And the dollar values double!! No wait, that's just in "Double Jeopardy") Regardless, the giant monster fun comes at the end of the run time, but by that point I was just ready to wrap things up. Which is a shame... I do like giant monsters. But I guess I also need a plot interesting enough to deliver me to those action scenes vested and ready to continue. Instead, we are just exposed to an extended attempt to get through the city without being stopped by the soldiers that have locked things down in an attempt to pass the whole thing off as a medical outbreak. And a drawn out mission to rescue the couple's 12 year old daughter from her quarantined building.

     But keep in mind there are still fun undercurrents running through the movie, like that fact that Americans all still secretly think Russians are evil. Aside from blaming all this on the dismantled country, we also bring in a Russian scientist that originally worked on the project back when it was launched into space. And we listen to him go on about how important this experiment is... and how it could change the world! With giant, deadly spiders? Really? Aside from complete world domination by these creatures, I'm not sure how his grand plan was supposed to work. Something like queen spider webbing would basically create a stronger military for whoever possesses it. Still not really saving the world? Just tipping the scales of power. Which would probably also end badly. But either way, I think he was my favorite character in the whole movie.

     All in all, you still get enormous spiders spinning webs and launching themselves onto people faces. Groups of soldiers running around attempting to fight off these monsters with their ineffective weapons. And eventually, we even get a huge spider that rampages through the city! And these things are pretty fun. So if you can hang in there and get past the boring humans in this story - the arachnid destruction is still a pretty good time.

(By the way, I saw the 2D version, so I cannot comment on the quality of the 3D version.) 


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