Friday, February 22, 2013

SPIDERS 3D (Review)

SPIDERS 3D (2013)

review by AARON ALLEN 

Directed by
Tibor Takács

Starring Christa Campbell, William Hope, and Patrick Muldoon

I don't know if giant mutant spiders from space were the best choice of monster for this 3D remake of SPIDERS. After all, the CGI is so hollow and the acting is so wooden that a better choice would have been to update the film with giant mutant termites.

Spiders (aka. Spiders 3D, which is now available on DVD, Blu-ray and Blu-ray 3D from Millennium Entertainment), is just the most recent movie in a long line of low-budget creature features that have proliferated in the wake of the SyFy channel and the success of low-budget film companies like The Asylum. Director Tibor Takács, famous for the 1987 Canadian horror film The Gate which gave Stephen Dorff his first theatrical role, has spent the latter part of his career churning out low-budget disaster flicks and cheap monster movies like Ice Spiders, Meteor Storm, Mega Snake, and Mansquito. Spiders may not be as bad as movies like Ice Spiders, but it's also not nearly as outrageous or ironically fun. And to make matters worse, it's a shoddy remake of an already shoddy B-movie.

In Soviet Russia, spiders step on you!

Because the Russians will never live down their role as the quintessential American bogeyman, obviously the Soviets are to blame for a giant spider attack on US soil. Spiders, which is a remake of a 2000 movie of the same name, concerns a race of mutant arachnids that come to earth aboard pieces of an old, top secret Soviet satellite after it crashes down in New York City. These are not your run of the mill mutant spiders, either. They are genetically engineered spiders with alien DNA that grow to giant proportions! Patrick Muldoon plays Jason, a NYC Transit supervisor whose biggest concerns that day are rush hour traffic and getting to his daughter's birthday. He soon finds his day royally screwed when the crashed Soviet craft destroys a portion of the subway line and one of his employees underground is killed and then impregnated with alien spider eggs. I bet there's no benefits package to compensate for that. Soon, he and his ex-wife Rachel (Christa Campbell), a public health investigator, must put aside their differences to rescue their daughter from an invasion of giant eight-legged killers and a colossal spider queen that erupts up from beneath the streets of New York.

Who's itsy-bitsy now, huh?

Spiders, which I viewed in its 2D format on Blu-ray, begins with promise, especially if you're familiar with the 2000 version that, despite a shitty script, had some pretty cool practical effects and over-the-top hilarious gross-out moments. I was hoping for the same. Unfortunately, Spiders doesn't seem to find any real fun or excitement with its derivative material. It actually manages to deliver a plot that makes less sense and is less exciting than Spiders (2000). Rather than go the parody route, which may have given the movie a leg (or eight) to stand on, Spiders plays out to the last scene without a single wink or nudge. I don't know how I'm supposed to take seriously giant alien spiders when the pace of the plot has no urgency and the monsters are the heartless products of bargain basement CGI effects work. Even despite a cool design that avoids conventional spider traits, these CGI arachnids look painfully cheap and hastily rendered. Even the giant queen who dominates the climax of the film is barely above modern video game grade graphics. I don't know how they did it, but the CGI spiders in Spiders (2013) look worse than the practical rubber ones in the original Spiders (2000). How embarrassing.

As if New York hasn't suffered enough....

Where other recent B-movies have embraced their low-budget monstrosities by offering over-the-top ridiculousness (see hilariously cheesy Fright Night Theatre inductees Sharktopus, Megapirana, and Nazis at the Center of the Earth), Spiders is so deadpan about the whole thing that it's terminal lack of fun only serves to point out the glaring lack of quality in the effects and its shamefully clunky script. Without something to laugh at, it becomes all too clear that the plot of Spiders is strictly paint-by-numbers and the characters are generally flat and unlikable. In particular, Christa Campbell is never once convincing as a mother, ex-wife, or health professional, and she has zero chemistry with Muldoon. 

The characters in Spiders find themselves in sticky situations

 Spiders is a very conventional and painfully dry monster movie that somehow manages to be less entertaining than the cheesy b-movie it's based on. It looks like Tibor Takács and Millennium Entertainment were try to make a big Hollywood-style movie on a modest budget, and I applaud the effort. Unfortunately, with low-grade effects and a script deficient in fun, adventure, or scares, Spiders is a mediocre monster movie at best. I can't imagine that even a 3D element would do much to give Spiders a much needed injection of thrills.

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