Tuesday, October 20

Spiders 3D (2013)

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Patrick Muldoon stars as a Bulgarian…er…New York transit authority supervisor who sends one of his workers down in the subway tunnel when some debris finds its way in the tunnel. The worker ends up dead, and an autopsy report finds spider venom as the cause. Just what in the hell is down there? Mutant spiders, that’s what. Actually, they are mutant ALIEN spiders, the result of some truly messed-up experiment by the Russkies in the 80s where spiders were crossbred with alien DNA…‘coz that’s such a sensible thing to do. But now the spiders have started to grow too big and it’s all getting out of hand. Military man William Hope and Russian doctor Pete-Lee Wilson are attempting to locate the queen spider to use for their idiotic and half-baked purposes…er…I mean for their nefarious purposes. Christa Campbell plays Muldoon’s ex-wife, a health inspector. This film from director Tibor Takacs (best known for “The Gate”) and co-writer Joseph Farrugia at first seems like a SyFy Channel flick, right down to the casting of “Aliens” co-star William Hope as the villain. It certainly doesn’t seem out of the realm of possibility for former “Days of Our Lives” and “Starship Troopers” co-star Patrick Muldoon to work on a SyFy project. And yet the FX are slightly above the quality of a SyFy ‘classic’, as is the film itself.

It’s really not bad, and neither are the FX. Spiders can be really, really tricky to render convincingly on screen (“Lord of the Rings: Return of the King” is still the benchmark), especially their movement. But for what was probably not a huge budget, and for a film originally designed for 3D viewing, the arachnids come out OK…ish. In fact, I was rather impressed under the circumstances. The spiders seem to have some sense of weight about them, if a little bit of a green screen effect that was somewhat noticeable. Rob Lowe lookalike Muldoon isn’t the first guy I’d hire to play a subway control room guy, but so far as former soap opera or “Starship Troopers” actors go, he’s not nearly the worst, and has a bit of talent and charisma to go with his looks. In fact, he gives the best performance in the film by far. His character is a giant moron, however. When he sees his daughter is being held by guys he doesn’t know, and they want to arrest him too, his solution is to go on the run. Really? Worst. Dad. Ever. Seriously, his daughter should give him a mug for father’s day with that written on it. And then bash him in the head with it. Co-star Christa Campbell is a familiar face too, but she looks like she’s seen better days (bit puffy in the face) and looks like she’d rather be anywhere else except in this film. She’s actually terrible. What the hell is wrong, dearie? Meanwhile, if you’ve seen William Hope in anything since “Aliens”, he plays the exact character you expect him to play, and he plays it in exactly the same fashion he does in every other cheapo film of this sort. He’s perfectly acceptable, just lazy casting and the role is woefully underdeveloped. Far more interesting is Pete-Lee Wilson as his Russian scientist cohort, a much more 3D character.

The plot is a mixed bag, to be honest. The family stuff and general location have a “Sharknado 2” vibe, and although the main plot starts out interesting and more than the average spider movie, after a while you start to wonder just what Hope and Wilson were trying to achieve here. And to be honest, I don’t think we ever adequately found out. Their evil scheme here seemed awfully foolhardy, to be charitable.

You’ll be pleasantly surprised at how watchable this film is, despite the drab grey/brown cinematography by the normally reliable Lorenzo Senatore (who has otherwise done top-notch work on “Copperhead”, “Mirrors 2”, and “Wrong Turn 3: Left for Dead”), and a pretty familiar plot. It’s really not a bad film…how’s that for praise?

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