There’s nothing wrong with “Webs”, an original Sci-Fi network movie, that another round of rewrites couldn’t fix. For instance, the Crane character played by David Nerman would be written as human instead of just an all-around jerk until the very end, when he inevitably redeems himself and dies a gruesome, though heroic, death. And oh yeah, there’s a bunch of spider “mutants” running around the place with plastic claws and fake, er, backwoods hillbilly-like teeth.
“Webs” stars Richard Grieco as an Everyman electrician who stumbles onto a doohickey that can open a gateway to a parallel Earth. After members of Grieco’s crew accidentally activates the doohickey, the 4-men team find themselves in a Chicago that looks familiar, but has been overrun by mutant spiders from another parallel universe. The mutants are controlled by a giant alien queen that gained access to the world when scientist Colin Fox originally opened the portal 30 years ago. And now that she’s eaten up this world’s population, the Queen is looking for another world to feast on.
I hate to say it, but there’s a reason some movies premiere on the Sci-Fi network and others go directly to video. In the pabulum of bad sci-fi movies, a premiere showing on the Sci-Fi Network is actually worst than appearing on video shelves as a Straight-to-Video victim. In this case, Straight-to-TV is a death worst than STV, a realization that seemed unfathomable a few years ago. What I’m trying to say is, “Webs” is on the Sci-Fi Network for a reason: It’s just not a very good movie.
The thing about “Webs” isn’t that it’s cheap, because it is. The budget is low, which is why the end of the world scenario is confined to a small number of locations, all of which are used repeatedly. The thing that really sinks “Webs” is the screenplay, which stretches credulity not in its premise of parallel worlds, but because of its unbelievably simple characters. The blame can’t be put on director David Wu (“The Bride With White Hair 2”), who manages decently with what he’s been given. The problem is that he’s saddled with a script that doesn’t work, makes little sense, and defies the notion that we’re supposed to be watching human beings, not cardboards.
Richard Grieco is probably the best thing about “Webs”. And yes, I never thought I’d hear myself say (er, type) that statement, but it’s true. His Dean is the most sound of the entire cast, and Grieco’s low, growling acting style works within the confines of the story. As mentioned, David Nerman is given the role of Professional Jerk, which means that for most of the movie his character exists only to antagonize Grieco’s Dean. Kate Greenhouse plays Elena, an attractive survivor; one guess who she falls for at first sight and vice versa. Gee, I wonder if Elena will live.
As the scientist whose actions began the destruction of Earth, Colin Fox gets to say some pretty dumb things. And although Fox’s character is responsible for the death of an entire world, not a single survivor seems to really care about this little tidbit. Actually, one person even blames Dean for the problem, and not the good doctor! Er, didn’t Dean just stumble onto the portal, while the doctor actually opened it on purpose?
The movie’s budget constraints are very obvious. We are treated to the sight of the Spider Queen (a combination of practical and CGI effects) for about 10 seconds in the film’s first hour, and no more until the final confrontation. In-between, we get lots of scenes of the Queen’s spider soldiers running around with their rubber claws and protruding fake teeth. And oh yeah, David Nerman’s Crane also gets more and more assholic as the minutes tick by, until that moment in the film when the screenplay ceases to need an asshole, and thus he becomes somewhat likeable — just in time to die heroically, natch.
I’m not saying that “Webs” is a bad movie — Oh wait, yes I am.
David Wu (director) / Grenville Case, Robinson Young (screenplay)
CAST: Dean … Richard Grieco
Elena … Kate Greenhouse
Ray … Richard Yearwood
Sheldon … Jeff Douglas
Crane … David Nerman