Saturday, May 05, 2007

Spider-Man 3

What can I say? It was a fun movie if somewhat flawed. It brought closure and still managed to keep the door open for more. Overall, I'd give it a B- and I imagine that most people would agree it falls within the C, C+, B- range.

So the story is that Peter Parker and Mary Jane are dating happily but hit a major rough spot in their relationship. Mary Jane is fired from the broadway play she was performing in due to bad reviews. Peter is too self absorbed and basking in adulation from his adoring public to see how bad a shape Mary Jane is in. She turns to an old friend instead.

Cain Marko, an escaped convict, gets trapped in a particle physics experiment and becomes merged with sand. He goes on a crime spree to get the money to give his daughter the medical treatment she needs.

Harry Osbourne, the New Goblin, sets on finally destroying Peter Parker/Spider-Man but in the ensuing battle has his short term memory erased.

Eddie Brock, a new photographer for the Daily Bugle, is in competition with Peter to get the newly opened staff photographer position. He gets busted faking a photo of Spider-Man stealing and his career is ruined in the process.

Well, first the good. This movie had some awesome action scenes. Sam Raimi really enjoys watching his characters go flying around and banging into walls and other shit that looks like it would really hurt if coming into contact with at high velocities. Too bad the movie is PG-13 or the amount of blood on screen would probably rival 300.

The friendly neighborhood Spider-Man. I loved the scene where he gets the key to New York City. Spider-Man has always been best when you realize he's as much a super-goof as he is a super-hero.

Cain Marko's transformation into the Sandman is great. I like the way the camera just kinda starts off looking at these giant rocks only to keep pulling back until you see that they were just tiny grains of sand. Really, the whole bit watching him pull himself together is fantastic. It wasn't just watching a guy adapting to a new situation. It basically came across like watching a new like being born. Little things like that showed why Sam Raimi is such a great director and why he'll be someone to watch as he grows.

Really, the middle part of the movie is the best. The scene with Peter Parker kinda sorta walking down the street like he's Tony Manero is a riot. Toby Maguire plays a really great cocky jerk. But as I said about the middle part, this is where the whole movie finds its stride. This is where it stops playing catch up or doing the set up that it can finally breathe free on its own. Three movies is a long run for a single creative team these days, so it's not like it breathes as well as it otherwise would, but it does nicely.

And now, what I didn't like. Basically, they forced too much in to too little space. This could have been a three hour movie if they wanted it to be. Having venom in the film was pretty needless. You could have excised all that shit with Eddie Brock and used the time to focus on the relationship story, or Cain Marko, or Harry Osbourne. When Cain Marko comes on screen, we're introduced to his family. You really are left wanting more of that. It's like he's a villainous villain. Rather, he's a sympathetic villain. He's the guy that fucks up no matter how hard he tries, but he means well in the end. They could have tied him into the morality play that these movies often are but didn't so much. They couldn't! Venom took too much time.

And consider this. The Venom story is a movie on its own. That's a story that, while they showed could have been done right, they failed. Venom is Spider-Man's most fearsome villain. His powers are identical plus he's psychotic. We shoulda gotten more then a cynical cash grab. The stories they could have done, watching Venom fuck with Peter's entire family and friends, torturing and haunting them in their nightmares. That could have been brilliant and a great way to intrduce a new creative team. Alas, the curse of bending over for the fans is that it leads to an inferior product. It was fine to introduce the black costume I suppose, but Venom is another matter entirely. (Considering that in the comics they were never introduced together it makes sense to do it across two movies instead of one.)

Speaking of cynicism, one thing that really annoyed me was the use of the flag. When Spider-Man runs towards the final battle (comparatively anti-climactic to the rest of the action scenes) he runs in front of this huge flag. Now, when the first movie came out it was right after 9/11 so naturally they would want to do something patriotic. Now they did it just cause it was gonna be expected. It wasn't done with pride, with patriotism. Tt was just...done. "Hey, we need a shot in front of the flag. Where can it logically work and create an emotional response? No where? Oh, fuck it, then let's put!" Lame.

And then one other thing bothered me. In the first movie, when Spidey is getting the shit beat out of him, his mask is torn and shattered a specific way. In this movie, he gets pummeled by the Sandman at the end. His mask is torn in the same way. It's the same fucking mask! They recycled a fucking prop! STOOOOOPID!!!!!!!! Plus it was at this point of the movie that I think they were running out of money. Peter was getting his shit handed to him but whereas in the first one he looked like hell warmed over in this one he looked...mildly bruised. Well, it bothered me anyway.

But like I said, overall this movie was very entertaining. Spider-Man has always been more of a, action movie (if such a thing exists). There's your morality play, there's your big super-hero action, there's you character's a very nice combination. It's not art, but what is? Insofar as super-hero action movies go, the Spider-Man franchise still ranks at the top. Of all the "threequels" out there this one is the best. Batman Forever? Superman 3? X-Men: The Last Stand? They ain't got shit on this one. Even if the creative team burned out, they still gave us all one last final and fun ride for us to enjoy. There will be more. Oh yes, there will be more. And I'll be looking forward to how they approach this series. But I have no doubt that this trilogy, as it stands now, has been a ride well worth taking.


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