Saturday, May 05, 2007

Spider-Man 3--A real 'knee-grabber'.

If there was ever a situation in my life where I needed to access a time machine, it would be right now. Why? So I could go back three years ago and tell myself that the follow-up to Spider-Man 2, one of my favorite films of that year and the best comic book movie ever made, would be terrible.

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(Scientists believe this may be the best position to assume while 'enjoying' Spider-Man 3)

See, I was ready for the follow-up the moment after that first midnight screening for part two had ended. However, now that I have seen Spider-Man 3, I am heart broken.

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(What's this woman training for, you ask? Why, for Spider-Man 3 of course!)

It's difficult for me to wrap my head around how awful and poorly made this newest installment is in comparison to the second - and even the very modest first - film in the series. The first two Spider-Man films were made with a solid thematic vision of what they were about--for part one, Peter Parker (Tobey Maguire) learns that 'with great power comes great responsibility,' and in the second one, he finds that he doesn't have to bear said responsibility alone. Unfortunately, this is a luxury that Spider-Man 3 could not afford, what with three villains, alien goo from the sky that turns Spidey into his own worst enemy, a dance number, two musical performances, and a second potential love interest for Spider-Man. Add all of these things with Spidey's Aunt May (Rosemary Harris), his job as a photographer for a city paper, and the desire to propose to the lovely Mary Jane (Kirsten Dunst), and it's clear that as far as a thematic core is concerned, there was simply no room left.

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(A mother teaching her child how to perform the yoga technique known as 'Spider-Man 3.')

Many critics have already made a game out of giving a synopsis for the convoluted storyline, so I won't even bother. There were so many ins and outs, ups and downs, all of which make me upset to recall because of their sloppy execution. It's almost like no one learned anything at all from the last three Batman films before Christopher Nolan's much needed reboot of that franchise. The only story I am concerned with, however, is how something like this could have happened. How could they take a critically and financially successful franchise, retain nearly all of the talent from the prior films, and make a $250 million bomb?

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(A group of men use prayer and strong support to prepare their friend for Spider-Man 3.)

The first person I would blame is director Sam Raimi, not so much for his work behind the camera as the hiring of his brother, Ivan, to write the screenplay. Ivan's previous works include two projects credited to "Alan Smithee Jr" and Army of Darkness. The Alan Smithee's notwithstanding, I love Army of Darkness, but I never once watched it, and said to myself, 'Y'know, someone should let the guy who scripted this write a Spider-Man film!' The producers should have given Alvin Sargent, whose screenplay was the biggest reason Spider-Man 3 was so good, anything he wanted to write this film. However, since he is only the third person to be credited for the screenplay, I suspect he might have only done some minor polishing.

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(As you can see, there is more than one way to enjoy the act of Spider-Man 3)

Also implicit in the movie's failure is producer Avi Arad, who used his executive powers to force Sam Raimi's hand to include Venom in the film. Raimi has said during several interviews and public appearances that he always hated the character - something that's apparent after seeing the final result. Venom pops up in the final twenty minutes, and goes down like a chump. Johnny Knoxville had a better fight against Butterbean in the first Jackass movie. While Fanboys have been begging for Venom's entry into the series since day one, this was simply not the way to do it. If they wanted to do the character any justice, Eddie Brock (Topher Grace) should have been introduced in this film, only to transform into Venom during the final scene, thus giving audiences something to look forward to in part four.

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(Just because your day job involves working in the mud, doesn't mean you can't enjoy Spider-Man 3.)

Perhaps the biggest problem with Spider-Man 3 is that it was made as if there wouldn't be a next film. Sure, the stars might be ready to jump the franchise, but I honestly feel that Spider-Man could continue without Maguire, Dunst, and even Sam Raimi. Who knows, the series could even improve itself a la Jame Bond in Casino Royale (2006). However, because of the 'get it done before the music stops' rush, Spider-Man 3 resembles Daredevil in that it had enough story for three separate films, causing none of it to be told well.

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(You can even enjoy Spider-Man 3 on the beach!)

The last thing I want to address is the film's budget which is rumored to be over $300 million. Spider-Man 3 lacked the spectacle of a $300 million dollar film. Hell, it didn't look like it was made for $200 million, and that's how much the last film cost. The special effects, other than the scene where Sandman (Thomas Hayden Church) takes his first steps with his new powers, were pedestrian, and the action scenes were sparse, and the very definition of a rip-off.

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(This cat was found trying to Spider-Man 3 a small dog. Strange.)

I would say that no one should go see Spider-Man 3, but if you enjoyed the second film as much as I did, it's too late - you can't help yourself. So what I will say is that if you plan on watching it, try not to put yourself out. If you have a final exam to study for, don't be like my roommate and put it off so you can see the film. Do everything that life requires of you first, because believe me, Spider-Man 3 will still be there, waiting to rip your heart out and stomp on it any time that you feel ready.

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(You can even enjoy Spider-Man 3 on the beach!)

This film gets a negative from me, and a very strong one at that.

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(I know, I know.)


Blogger Ben said...

Great review Joe! The photos add a very nice touch. I'll be seeing this film next week probably...I loved the first Spidey, thought the second was weak, and am excited about the 3rd, although now bracing myself for it to - well, suck.

I am psyched about Venom! But if he gets 20 minutes at the end and then actually 'defeated' within those 20 minutes, well, that's just a huge huge waste of a great character.

8:06 AM  
Blogger The Movie Show said...

Thanks, Ben. Yeah, my experience could have been affected by the fact that I had just finished watching Spider-Man 3 only hours prior. So maybe if you want to enjoy the film for what it is, you might want to skip watching the others so they don't taint your expectations.

11:50 AM  
Anonymous Andrew said...

Good review, Joe. I couldn't agree more.

6:53 PM  
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