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Earth Vs. The Spider

review by Marc K.

 

 

Rating: R (Language and Violence)

Running Time: 90 minutes

Starring: Dan Aykroyd

Screenplay by: Cary Solomon, Chuck Konzelman and Max Enscoe, Annie de Young
Story by: Mark McCreery and Cary Solomon, Chuck Konzelman

Directed by: Scott Ziehl

 

Studio: Columbia/Tri-Star

Retail Price: $24.95

Features: Making-of Featurette, Photo Gallery, DVD-ROM Weblink, Trailers, Filmograhpies

Specs: 1.77:1 Anamorphic Widescreen, 1.33:1 Full Screen, English Dolby Digital 5.1, French Dolby Digital 2.0, English Subtitles, French Subtitles, Spanish Subtitles, Portuguese Subtitles, Korean Subtitles, Thai Subtitles, Chinese Subtitles, English Closed Captions, Scene Selection (28 Scenes)

Released: May 7th, 2002

 

 

Upon first encountering this DVD, I noticed the tagline -- "Science made Quentin a mutant. Nature made him a killer." Now, I don't know about you cats and chicks reading this, but that reminds me of another tagline. A tagline to a really horrible film. "God made him simple. Science made him a god. Now, he wants revenge." Taking a look at IMDb, that film is rated at 2.4/10, while the reviewed film is 4.2/10. Not much better, though I note the coincidental ratings (2.4 and 4.2, inverse of each other so to speak.)

The film begins with the Creature Features bumper, a really, really poorly-rendered scene of a mad scientist (think pre-original Toy Story quality) and then we get the opening titles. Looks pretty amateurish, less perhaps the comic book closeups reminiscent of Chasing Amy, albeit these are much worse; they attempt to have a 50s pulp feel to them, but come away, as I suspect the film will be, as only silly.

We follow the exploits of a Quentin, a security guard at a weapon resistance research lab for the military. There's a girl he likes, Stephanie, but he feels shame in his position. One day, some ninjas or something come into the lab and kill his father-like partner, and an officer dies because he holds another back to tell him his partner is in the room with the ninjas and the secret "mojo juice" derived from a super-spider that is so vital to the story. Dan Aykroyd's character, a detective, is introduced around twenty minutes into the film. Needless to say, Quentin, finding nothing left to live for, injects the mojo juice into his bloodstream and wackiness and chaos ensues.

This is a made-for-TV film, and it has the production values of one. At some parts of it, I expected Quentin to exclaim that his spider-sense was tingling. For those familiar with the Spider-Man arc, this film is somewhat like the Man-Spider the briefly made an appearance in both the comic and the 90s Fox cartoon. After about one hour into the film, it becomes just about desperately unwatchable. At points in the movie, actor-mounted characters (a la Requiem for a Dream) are used, which I always find enjoyable, but later on, the cinematography is simply laughable.

 

Clean transfer in anamorphic widescreen (1.77:1). Blacks aren't as deep as I would hope, and sometimes the camera is well-focused on neither foreground nor background, though that's a problem from the source. I didn't notice any compression or film artifacts. Edge enhancement is sometimes noticeable. There's also a full screen transfer.

 

Both audio mixes are mostly well-done. Dialogue and special effects alike are crisp, though at times dialogue, mostly of supporting characters, is too quiet. Subtitles are available in a myriad of languages - English, French, Spanish, Portuguese, Korean, Thai, and Chinese, and audio tracks available are Dolby Digital 5.1 and Dolby Digital 2.0 stereo in English and French.

 

The Photo Gallery is divided into four categories (Monster Sketches, Building the Monster, Behind-the-Scenes Photos, and Production Stills). In Monster Sketches, each picture is shown twice the first time the whole picture is shown and the second time is a close-up, which may be unnecessary if the viewer has a Zoom function on their DVD player. All galleries do an adequate job of showing what the title implies, though maybe having some text accompaniment would be more helpful for the viewers to look into the creative process. Also, the pictures are not numbered and you can go in an infinite loop pressing left and right... hopefully, none of the viewers have a "Memento"-like illness.

The trailers are for Creature Features (2:45), Urban Legend (2:30), Fright Night (1:20), I Still Know What You Did Last Summer (2:00), and 13 Ghosts (2:30). All are widescreen and slightly less-than-stellar transfers.

The Making-Of featurette is presented in full-frame (1.33:1). This clocks under two minutes at 1:40 and is very much just promo fluff. Filmographies: Filmographies are only available for Dan Aykroyd and Stan Winston, and, like the photo galleries, they go in an infinite loop of a simple, abridged list of films each has participated in and the name of their job.

 

If you must watch this one, catch it as a repeat on cable. The script is lackluster, the special effects are decent but nothing for the cost of admission. Even the kitsch quality is missing in this film-- if you're looking for fifties-reminiscent horror, might I suggest Mars Attacks!? Better bang for your buck in that one; it even has Tom Jones!