The 2013 film BIG ASS SPIDER! has everything going against it. When I first saw that this film was available for sale on DVD and Blu-ray all I could think was, “Great, another SyFy Channel crapfest movie of the week!” Sure there are favorable reviews on the back of the box but anyone can write anything they want on these boxes and to be honest, I haven’t heard of one of the listed reviewers. Granted, it was also an “official selection” at the 2013 SXSW Film Festival but what exactly does “official selection” mean and what the hell is the SXSW Film Festival? When I found a Blu-ray copy for $10 I thought to myself, “OK, I will give it a try” and boy am I glad I did. This movie is hilarious and a lot of fun to watch.
In all honesty this does have all of the ingredients of a SyFy Channel movie of the week, but done in a way that all SyFy Channel movies should be made. This movie is well-written with some hilarious dialog, especially between the heroes Alex (played by Greg Grunberg), an exterminator, and Jose (played by Lombardo Boyar), a security guard who works at the hospital that Alex has to go to after being bitten by a brown recluse spider. The comedy timing of these two is fantastic and their scenes together steal the show, especially with Boyar’s dialog and reactions. To round out the trio is Lieutenant Karly Brant (played by Clare Kramer, who also played Glory in season 5 of “Buffy The Vampire Slayer”), who is sent to the town to help destroy the spider after the military scientists she works with inadvertently created it.
Anyone who reads this blog regularly knows that the Daves are not big fans of CGI special effects, but this Dave is starting to have a change of heart and am now willing to suspend disbelief, to a degree. Here is the thing about special effects. When you do things the old-fashioned way with latex and foam, the monsters look more organic and lifelike. Plus these creations are physically on set so the actors have something real to react to and interact with. With CGI it is very difficult to create something that looks organic, especially if it has hair (just look at the werewolves in any of the TWILIGHT films), and the creatures are inserted after the fact which means the reactions of the cast may not be as good as they could be if done with practical effects.
My feeling is this, CGI is used so much now because it is much cheaper than hiring special effects artists to sculpt, mold and create monsters. Since it is cheaper, and it has been shown that CGI can look amazing (just look at James Cameron’s AVATAR), it should be done right. I am not saying the spider effects in this film are perfect; far from it. There is also an inconsistency in the quality of the visuals, from really good to “how the hell did that scene make the final cut?” For me though, since the majority of the scenes do in fact work, the CGI here is more than acceptable. And besides, I am a HUGE fan of the movies from the 50’s that specialized in some of the cheesiest effects ever put to screen (though most of these still look better than the CGI being used over at the SyFy Channel).
The CGI really shines here in the beginning while the spider is still in its earlier, smaller stages. It is shown in darkly lit areas and actually comes across as creepy. As the spider grows, the effects are harder to come off as convincing, since many scenes are done in full daylight. Many scenes are comparable to what you see when you play today’s high-tech video games (or if you are like me, you watch your nephews play them). Sure, some of these games have amazing graphics, but none of them are movie quality. If you can get past these flaws, and I did, you will totally get a kick out of this movie and find yourself laughing out loud at times!
The plot here is nothing new; the government using alien DNA to help make crops grow larger helping to feed the world’s ever-growing population, screws up when a shipment of vegetables to be treated comes in with a spider on board. This spider is affected by the DNA, grows to ginormous proportions, and wreaks havoc on the local populace. This tried and true formula works once again and this time a lot of humor is thrown in, taking the film to a whole new level. This film will never win an academy award but for a night with your buddies drinking beer, this movie cannot be recommended more! You can get your copy HERE!