Movie Review: Big Ass Spider (2013, Dir. Mike Mendez)

Big Ass Spider Movie Review

With Big Ass Spider! we come to the end of this latest giant spider movie resurgence that involved two other movies, Spiders 3D (2013) and The Giant Spider (2013) both of which hit home video earlier in the year. Mike Mendez (The Gravedancers) crafts a comedy/science fiction tale about exterminator, Alex Mathis (Greg Grunberg), who teams up with security guard, Jose Ramos (Lombardo Boyar), to stop a giant spider from turning downtown LA into its own personal playground. Ray Wise plays Major Braxton Tanner who’s tasked with trying to “clean-up” the Giant Spider mess and begrudgingly help Mathis and Ramos along the way, or vice versa, depending on how you want to look at it.

Once I saw the military’s presence early on I began to get a sense of déjà vu, as it pertains to the origins of the marauding arachnid I mean, and once the inevitable explanation scene appeared you would not be entirely wrong if you put forth the theory that perhaps this film, Spiders (2000) and Spiders 3D (2013) is a very loose trilogy.
Let me explain.

Gary Jones, the maker of the best giant mosquito movie you will ever see, appropriately titled, Mosquito (1995), made a giant spider movie in 2000 appropriately titled, Spiders. The origin of the eight legged freaks in that movie was due to an experiment conducted in orbit aboard a shuttle where alien DNA was injected into a tarantula. The military had the insane idea of creating these beasts for future wars, sending giant spiders out into the battleground to decimate the enemy. Spiders 3D, when I initially heard of it, was rumored to be a direct remake, but later on revealed by a writer to not be. Well, the origin for the humongous spiders in that movie is exactly the same, except the experiments were conducted by the Russians in a space station that was left to rot in orbit. You could even view this movie as an unofficial sequel, which I do. The US military does eventually get involved but their desire to cultivate the giant spiders is not for them alone but for the silk they produce and the weaponry that can be made from it. Now we come to Big Ass Spider! where once again the US military is involved as well as the alien DNA, but here the big ass spider is an accidental by-product from the experiments created from fossilized alien DNA found on Mars. One component of which was found to be a growth hormone and as it was being tested on some oversized vegetables a spider was accidentally exposed and, voila, a Big Ass Spider resulted. So, in conclusion, I think an unintentional trilogy was created. Which is fine by me, I loved those two other giant spider movies.

In the commentary director Mike Mendez states the movie has over 700 CGI shots. Concerning the spider CGI, the bigger it is the better it looks. Meaning the shots of it in it’s Kong-sized mode are really quite good. The medium-sized shots aren’t bad, with a couple that look painfully artificial, but even if its not so great looking, it still looks a hell of a lot better than any SyFy channel movie you might see. If any part of the spider effects had looked like that, I would not have been able to finish watching the movie.

My favorite scene is when the Mack truck-sized spider invades the park and pretty much lays waste to every human being there, impaling the fleeing humans with the spear-points of two of it’s front legs and eating some of them. The CGI for the spider there is good. It’s not so good in a couple of scenes where it chases Grunberg and Boyar in Grunberg’s company pick-up. Bad, yes, but as I said before not so to the point where it destroyed my suspension of disbelief. They were brief shots anyway.

Epic Pictures brings Big Ass Spider! to home video on DVD and blu-ray separately on January 7th. In the UK it hits DVD and blu-ray separately on December 23rd.
Video/Audio/Subtitles: 1080p 1.78:1(?) anamorphic HD transfer—5.1 English Dolby trueHD, 2.0 English Stereo—Subtitles none. (Note: there is no mention of the aspect ratio on the DVD, so seeing as it fills the entire screen I can only assume it’s either 1.85:1, 1.77:1 or 1.78:1, some where in that ball park).

The main extra is the commentary with Director Steve Mendez, Greg Grunberg and Lombardo Boyar, which is only available on the blu-ray. It’s hilarious and full of anecdotes and how they made the movie. Proof that CGI works best when it’s on “small things;” Mendez points out several shots where a truck, a quarter, an elevator door and the spider trying to get it open are all flawlessly rendered; it took them 2 years to make the movie and Ray Wise hit on just about every chick on the production.

Other extras include the SXSW Featurette: Big Ass Spider Premiere (5:07), which is home video of the midnight premiere in Texas. See fans love the movie; see Mike Mendez talk about it on stage. You also get a very short Interviews With The Cast (1:23), which is pretty much self-explanatory, and rounding out the disc is the Theatrical Trailer, the International Trailer, and a TV Spot.

My experience viewing this movie was similar to when I recently saw The House Of Seven Corpses (1974), in that upon my initial viewing I came away thinking it was an alright movie, but appreciated it more after listening to the commentary. Now that I’ve heard Mendez, Grunberg and Boyar talk about their movie I like this one a lot more now.

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