Everyone agrees that one of the hottest trends in the amalgamated comics/film industry today is premium at-home delivery meal experiences themed after important events. Fans argue to this day whether the true originator was the Pete Shropshire Memorial Barbecue Pack with its innovative one-time-use disposable meat smoker, available nationwide in 2003, or Tyler Durden's "Do Not Fuck With Three-Cheese Blend" Take 'n' Bake Pizza 2-Pack celebrating the Oregon-only IMAX rerelease of Fight Club a few months prior, but none can argue we are now amidst a renaissance of the art form.
After the tentative toe-dipping of the Zack Snyder's of Hanover Pretzel Batarangs during the theatrical run of Batman vs. Superman, and the incredible success of the $130 "Mother Box" tie-in to the HBO Max premiere of Zack Snyder's miraculous redemption of the Justice League film (and, indeed, all of film as a creative medium), it seemed firmly established that every Snyder cinematic event would have a corresponding meal fans could prepare at home to complete the experience. Last year when Snyder announced he would be directing a sequel to inimitable classic David Arquette vehicle Eight-Legged Freaks, Twitter and DramaBomb.aq lit up with speculation. Before the incredible cast including a returning Arquette plus Dwayne Johnson, Helen Mirren, Margot Robbie, Daniel Day-Lewis, and a CGI recreation of Martin Balsam authorized by his estate was even announced, fans were arguing if Japanese spider crabs (the obvious central ingredient from a literary/thematic standpoint) could even be feasible to distribute in the necessary volume.
Well, fans and friends, here we are the morning after the premiere on Hulu of Nine-Legged Freaks, the latest Snyder masterpiece, digesting the Nine-Legged Freaks Ultra Premium Feast Box. How did Weta Culinary do with their first effort since spinning off from the venerable Peter Jackson-founded effects shop? Was it a disaster like the Kong: Skull Island Deluxe Trail Rations, with its gimmicky MRE-style chemical heating elements and bland, watery lab-grown monkey brains? Or did it surpass previous high-water marks like the Sky Captain Airline Peanut-Crusted Chicken Bucket and the Southland Tales Neo-Marxist DystopiBanquet? Should you immediately sign on to the waiting list for a chance to pre-order the next Weta and Snyder collaboration? Let me answer all of these questions with another question: Do you like art?
Please note that this article will spoil parts of the film's plot. This is a food review, and if you didn't watch it last night because you need a review of a Zack Snyder movie to know whether you want to see it, you should probably instead go rewatch a braindead crowd-pandering Marvel movie like Spider-Man: No Way Home, Thor: The Dark World, or Moon Knight vs. Blade: The Dracula Gambit.
Appetizer Course: "Ruined Lab Excavation" Imitation Japanese Spider Crabcakes
Do not let yourself be fooled by the crabcakes being "imitation," or you might face a similar fate to Dr. Charlotte "Charlie" Bustier (Margot Robbie) when she assumed the abandoned lab's experiments couldn't possibly be alive, and so very hungry.
My wife and I were definitely similarly hungry when we used the souvenir tongs shaped like monstrous spider claws to remove the sous vide style "crisping sconce" from our deep frier after the specified 90 minutes, and let me tell you, these crabcakes were like manna from goddamn heaven. Not only were they the perfect texture and temperature, but the AR phone app did a really cool "spiders bursting out of a horrific egg" overlay on the crisping sconce when my wife opened it.
As you'd expect, there were nine cakes of descending size to mirror the alignment of the planets in the film. (Pedants who haven't bothered to see the film should note that Snyder does not count Pluto; the ninth planet is obviously the Spider Zone.) The phone app has recommendations for how to allot the cakes depending on how many people are being served, which I definitely appreciated. Flavorwise, picture a Maryland style crab cake infused with ancho peppers, real Vermont maple syrup, and cilantro-flavored "seasoning beads" with a texture akin to Pez.
Main Course: "The Hangover Special" Burger
Early in the film it is established that when dishonorably discharged special ops veteran Stan "The Man" Slambrick (Dwayne Johnson) wakes up after a night of hard drinking and even harder (but only tastefully implied) masochistic sex acts, he needs a proper meal to feel human again. Every time, the best option for this is the hole in the wall beachside burger bar owned and operated by his mother Henrietta Slambrick (Helen Mirren, and Anya Taylor-Joy uncredited in flashbacks) where he is served this exact burger.
We were delighted when we saw it in the movie looking identical to the preview photo on the box, but confused as to why the box has an electronic timer that prevents you from opening it until a certain point in the film. We started preparing it immediately when the box unlocked, still unsure why, and right as we had plated the burgs and were about to dig in, the boardwalk massacre sequence happened. The burgers were probably too hot to eat at that point without burning our mouths, which is fortunate because by the time Henrietta died in her son's arms and Stan started sobbing and begging her to wake up and make him one last burger, we almost felt guilty picking up these poignant symbols of how short and precious life is, and discovering they had cooled to the most perfect temperature imaginable.
Who among us, though, is not reminded of the beauty that is possible in this world and also the fleeting nature of that beauty by two half-pound patties of Kobe beef with a gooey center of American/provolone cheeses and topped with two fried eggs over easy that, upon your first bite, rupture like Henrietta's poor blood-filled lungs and trickle the yolk into the raw onion straws and pickled bell pepper rings, the same way our tears trickled onto the toasted potato bun and made it kinda soggy but still mostly pretty good.
Dessert: "For Those That Came Before" Memorial Crème Brûlée
It startled the heck out of my wife and our dog when the brûlée apparatus in the kitchen ignited automatically after a few seconds of the original end credits composition "If They Come Back I'll Be Here To Protect You" by Hoobastank featuring Phoebe Bridgers, but I was just excited. During the tearful goodbye between Chris McCormick (David Arquette) and Dr. Bustier at the threshold of the portal to the Spider Zone, the memory in the back of my mind that there was still a lovely and innovative dessert course to come at the end of the film was almost distracting.
I am not a huge fan of crèmes brûlée, and I do routinely choke them down because my wife is a fan and when we order dessert over our bimonthly anniversary dinner she takes out her butterfly knife and starts doing tricks with it while she says "two crèmes brûlée, please, it's our favorite," and I just sigh and resign myself. All that aside, though, the reprise of the Vermont maple syrup from the appetizer dovetails well with the use of real authentic spider milk instead of cow milk (I didn't even know that was a thing!) to make the best crème brûlée I've ever had in my life that was intended as a food to be eaten. I've definitely already ordered a couple gallons of spider milk from Whole Foods to experiment with in the kitchen over the next week.
Beverage: "Formula ZX-13" Energy Drink
It pains me to admit I won't be able to review this element of the work, because it ate through the container it came in and left a hole on the porch where the package was dropped off and my wife is getting quotes from contractors tomorrow to come out and see how deep it goes. I contacted Weta Culinary and they told me that while this happened to less than 10% of customers and in every case they've investigated so far it was due to customer error, they were willing to compensate me. I agreed and promptly received an e-coupon for my choice of a 24-hour digital rental of any of the following:
- Ready To Rumble: Rage Resurrection (2019), the Rian Johnson-directed sequel to David Arquette's other career high point Ready To Rumble (2000) that, like Nine-Legged Freaks, has stellar action choreography by former stuntman Chuck Kwok.
- GCW Murderfest 2021: Execution Style, a pro wrestling pay-per-view special from last year where Arquette engages in whatever a "used syringe battle royale" is, I haven't looked into it because even normal blading in pro wrestling makes me squeamish and I have an actual separate needle phobia. Technically this is the biggest value though since renting it normally costs $79.99.
- The "Spider Zone Sojourn Bonus Pack" for Nine-Legged Freaks, which includes a feature-length making-of documentary edited and narrated by Ken Burns, 42 minutes of deleted scenes, and an exclusive 4K 60FPS version of the music video for "If They Come Back I'll Be Here To Protect You" where the band fights the spiders from the movie with leftover axes/swords from Weta Workshop's previous productions and Phoebe Bridgers delivers her verses from some sort of extradimensional space of light and water, presumably because they couldn't schedule her to be in the same green screen set as Hoobastank. You'd think this would be the obvious choice but my wife has a lifelong grudge against Ken Burns she refuses to explain and I'd have to convince her no money went into his pocket from this.
I'll let you guys know how all that shakes out on my Substack newsletter, which is mostly about communist theory and my personal life. It's only five bucks a month to subscribe and there are a couple free posts about my struggle with GZDoom megawad addiction and how I think Marx and Engels would have responded to five common pro-capitalism arguments if they were teen girls who had a shared TikTok account. You should check it out!
Editor's Note: This article has been edited to remove references to Dwayne Johnson's WWE-era stage name. Our understanding is Mr. Johnson is fine with it himself, but Mr. Snyder's legal representatives reached out to us to express that it clashed tonally with the serious artistry on display in Nine-Legged Freaks, and if we didn't remove it he would do some very specifically described lethal violence to us. VERY specific. The supermarket near the author's house that she goes to regularly was mentioned, as was a surgical tool out of common use since the 1930's that we had to look up on Wikipedia. We respect Mr. Snyder's sense of artistic integrity and his lust for life, and also blood.