Sting movie review & film summary (2024)

Like a lot of post-Amblin entertainments, “Sting” focuses on a nuclear family’s strained relationship whenever it’s not a by-the-numbers When Animals Attack pic. Ethan (Ryan Corr) is a typical post-Spielberg dad: His fatal flaw is that he, uh, wears too many hats. He’s the super for a Brooklyn apartment run by the cheap and questionably accented slum-lady Gunter (Robyn Nevin). Ethan’s also a comic book artist with a rising career.

For his comics, Ethan takes inspiration from angsty pre-teen Charlotte (Alyla Brown), the daughter of Heather (Penelope Mitchell), Ethan’s exasperated partner. Ethan cares but is still insecure in his dual roles as provider and working stiff. Typically manageable problems add up fast, especially a mysterious pest issue in Gunter’s building, as well as a growing rift between Ethan and Charlotte. No adults can help relieve Ethan’s burden, not even Frank (Jermaine Fowler), an aggrieved, wisecracking exterminator. Enter Charlotte, the most sympathetic character in “Sting,” possibly because she’s the one who’s most defined by dramatic/situational peril.

You don’t have to like Charlotte to care about scenes where she first raises and then chases after Sting, a pet spider who crash-lands to Earth in a ping-pong-ball-sized asteroid. Sting gets bigger over the course of the movie, but he never really adds much to “Sting” beyond a generic threat. Charlotte could have been enamored with and then disgusted by an irradiated field mouse or a man-eating toilet ‘gator. The fact that Sting’s a spider doesn’t really mean anything, which is strange given how much time Charlotte and the others spend getting around Gunter’s building using an elaborate network of air vent tunnels. You might think that a story about an overtaxed dad and an underappreciated daughter might have more to say about spiderwebs and family life. You’d be wrong, in this case.

“Sting” doesn’t have much to say about Charlotte and Ethan’s relationship beyond the conventional drive towards reconciliation. Wētā makes Charlotte’s spider look about as good as a giant black widow can, but even the creature’s design feels like a missed opportunity here. It’s just a black spider with a small red vertical dash down its back? Really? I mean, a well-rendered but generic threat isn’t exactly monster movie Kryptonite. It’s still only so interesting when the characters are also stock types, and the monster-centric scenes are too short and not even well-paced enough to be either suspenseful or gross.