Sony // 2006 // 86 Minutes // Rated R
Reviewed by Judge David Johnson // October 24th, 2007
Hell has just frozen over.
You like ice? You like spiders? How about those two things put together? Yes folks, Sony has answered your call and teamed up two big-league film concepts (ice and spiders) to unleash the film so many fans of ice and spiders have clamored for: Ice Spicers!
Here's how this bad boy plays out -- a ski team full of twenty-something cast-offs from the The Real World: Aspen heads to the Lost Mountain ski resort for some powder-shredding Olympic practice. There they meet Dash Dashiell (Patrick Muldoon, Starship Troopers) a former ski champion now forced to work as an instructor at the resort. Unbeknownst to everyone, a little ways up the mountain is -- surprise! -- a top-secret government facility that has been experimenting with giant killer spiders and -- surprise! -- said spiders have broken free and are running around like crazy, wrapping mofos in their webs and eating them to death. When the deadly creatures descend upon the resort it's up to Dashiell and his feisty sidekick Dr. April Sommers (Vanessa Williams) to fend them off.
Sounds great huh? Well it is! Providing you're a die-hard fan of Patrick Muldoon and poorly rendered CGI. Actually, Ice Spiders is another mediocre, SciFi Channel-quality creature feature retread that boasts very small returns for your 90 -minute time investment.
Kicking it off with the spiders themselves, the quality in their production is as budget as you can predict. Visual effects that were cutting-edge several generations ago are the order of the day. The spiders look about as real as fake low-budget giant spiders and the fact that the effects contrast with white snow really does critical damage to the suspension of disbelief -- you will not consider these spiders even remotely alive. Fallout from this is the lack of visceral punch when they do their killing. It's not hard to envision the hapless actors rolling around the snow pretending to do battle with special effects.
On the other hand, the practical make-up effects aren't bad. While never getting more gruesome than a crew member firing a stream of fake blood off screen at a screaming woman, the aftermath of the spider attacks (ripped up limbs, intestines lying akimbo) look nice and disgusting.
Crappy visual effects could be forgiven if the film is relatively entertaining, but Ice Spiders doesn't quite get there. It's "survivable," and there are handful of decent lines, but there's just nothing here to distinguish it from the multitude of economy creature flicks that have preceded it. And the premise of "ice spiders" is a pretty goofy concept, no? Pass on this one.
The DVD is bare-bones but looks (1.85:1 anamorphic widescreen) and sounds (5.1 Dolby Digital) nice. As is usually the case, the sharp picture quality hurts the effects worst the most, but that's the price you pay in the digital age. No extras.
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Scales of Justice
* 1.85:1 Anamorphic
* Dolby Digital 5.1 Surround (English)
Running Time: 86 Minutes
Release Year: 2006
MPAA Rating: Rated R