Review by Jason Howard
Lead Entertainment Writer
My favorite physical feature on a spider – and, all you other brothers can’t deny…
If I wanted to, I could just let the title of this movie tell you everything you need to know. Be honest, when you read Big Ass Spider, your mind was already made up. The question is – does it deliver upon the promise of that title?
A giant, alien-based spider has escaped from a military laboratory and is rampaging his way through Los Angeles. Because The Avengers are busy on the East coast and Superman/Batman are busy battling casting criticisms, it is up to an everyman spider-obsessed exterminator and his security guard sidekick to save the day. All hell breaks loose when the military also gets involved and panic sets in. Can our heroic duo defeat the Large Bottomed Arachnid? I’ll never tell…
Director Matt Mendez has done something quite interesting here. Much like the resurgence of creature features of the 70’s and 80’s, Big Ass Spider pays tribute to that same genre popularized in the 50’s in a way that both respects the source material, but also realizing that they can’t work in current times without a healthy injection of humor. What gives this a leg (or eight) up on many of the SyFy Channel and Asylum features (Sharknado excluded) is that Mendez and his team understands how to give these movies bite (yep) and are able to pull you into a much more cinematic web (double yep) than those features. Three spider puns in one sentence – I am not proud of that.
The effects work is cheesy, of course, but it fits in perfectly with the mood of the film. The spider design wisely avoids the usual giant spider design (it even, perhaps unintentionally, kind of fits the film’s name), and is used to an effective amount. It’s not kept in the shadows too long, but also not overly used to the point of forcing the audience to pick apart the flaws. Once the film gets going, however, the action never stops (another aspect that sets it apart from its forefathers of yesteryear). If anything, the film could have used a few more moments to slow down and appreciate the characters, but that’s a pretty minor complaint.
Also important to a film like this is the comedy, which comes largely from our two unlikely heroes. Greg Grunberg (familiar to fans of Heroes and J.J. Abrams) makes a great pair with Lombardo Boyar (hopefully Big Ass Spider 2). The banter between the two provides several laughs and creates quite a bit of chemistry. One can only hope that they’ll be paired up in the future to fight other giant creatures! The rest of the cast seems game as well. It’s especially nice to see genre vets Lin Shaye and Ray Wise pop up together in a horror movie again (even if they aren’t paired together).
The editing, also by Mendez, keeps the movie clipping along and the music stirs up just the right moods for a comedy/horror/creature feature. From the effective opening sequence that plays with the dichotomy of slow motion and natural speed and seems to be from another movie entirely, to the conclusion that will surprise no one, but please most, this movie is a blast.
Jason’s Final Thoughts:
Look, I know that it seems that I’ve done nothing but heap praise upon a movie that most would consider to be devoid of all substance, but with a title like Big Ass Spider, your enjoyment of a movie is in direct correlation with your expectations being met. This film did that in spades. If you are a fan, as I am, of giant monster movies of the 50’s and their updated counterparts in the 70’s, then there is no reason that you won’t have a smile on your face from the beginning to the end. Much like Remains of the Day or The House of Sand and Fog, everything you need to know is right there in the title. If the job of a movie is to entertain, then I highly recommend you focus your multitude of eyes and however many ears a spider has directly at the screen when this one opens up near you.
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