Spiderman 3 Is Here, So Let The Summer Movie Season Begin
But did it begin on the right note? I got to tell you, I am torn six ways from Sunday about this adventure of everybody's favorite webhead. While there were some sequences in this film that had me in awe and feeling like a kid again, there were so many scenes that had me asking myself "What the fuck was that?" that they all seemed to counteract each other. Let me state first that I consider the first "Spiderman" film to be one of the five best comic book films ever, and I consider "Spiderman 2" to be the best comic book movie ever; it made number 2 on my top ten list in 2004. So, I'm a fan. And I've been a fan since I was nine years old when I started reading the adventures of Spidey in comic book form, and I stayed with it till my early twenties I might add. I have lived and breathed freaking Spiderman for the majority of my life, and even now I will occassionally pick up a book to see what's going on with the guy.
So considering I really liked and sometimes loved about half of the film, I would love to give this a ringing endorsement, but at the same time what didn't work was to the point of being borderline terrible, so I'm kind of in this state of detestable nirvana with the whole experience. I think Sam Raimi got a little full of himself here in the visual effects department and ended up making this more of what I always feared the first film would have been: An entertaining yet soulless big budget summer flick that I've seen way too many times in my movie going past. It's a film that while I overall liked it, I really have no huge desire to see it again anytime soon unlike the first two which I will at least watch part of everytime there on television, not too mention how I've weared out my DVD copies. Because the first two had so much going for them beyond the effects. Granted, they had great special effects sequences, but they also had really good stories that you could invest your time in, and they became more than just simple popcorn flicks.
Part of the problem that most people are pointing out is that Raimi and company decided to add too much to the film with three villains, and a couple of new supporting characters. I don't agree with this. "Batman Begins" worked just fine with all of its villains (Scarecrow, Falconi, and Ras Al Ghul), and the "X-Men" films have done a decent job juggling fifteen to twenty heroes and villains all at once. So, that's really not the issue here; the basic structure is there to make all of these different people coalesce into something majical, but Raimi loses focus in his flow of the film and leaves the more interesting aspects of the storyline on the sideline while choosing to put more of the focus on the situations that just aren't as interesting.
Take the Sandman (Thomas Hayden Church) for instance. I can see why Raimi wanted to use this character. From a CG standpoint, this is some of the most kickass stuff I have ever seen on the big screen. The action and CG effects are seamless and create a visual tapestry that rivals just about anything in the past including the massive undertaking of King Kong. But despite how much they try to give the Sandman's story some backbone with a sick daughter and the killing of Peter's Uncle Ben, it never really translates into anything deeper than Raimi just trying to show us some cool shit. It's kind of like the worst of the Bond films where the gadgetry is there for pure spectacle as opposed to having anything to do with the actual story. The scene where Venom tackles Sandman in the alley and asks him to team up with him is just awful and doesn't work in the least. I have never understood for the life of me why villains of this magnitude would want to team up in the first place with their conflicting agendas. And to make the Sandman all of a sudden just want to kill Spiderman makes very little sense when you consider the scene that follows the big battle at the end where he tells Spidey that he never meant for any of this to happen. What?
And Venom? Oh, Jesus!!! First off, the evolution of Venom is arguably one of the most overrated storylines in the history of comics. He really isn't that interesting of a character the way they create him in the comic book, and trying to change the creation for the movie makes him even less interesting. Topher Grace is fine as Eddie Brock/Venom, but there's only so much you can do with a character as underwritten as this. And for all of you out there so excited to see Venom on the big screen. He looks really cool, but he's only in about 25 minutes of a 2 and a half hour film, so his involvement becomes rather moot to say the least. Raimi has made it known in the past that he didn't care much for the character, and you can tell after watching this.
Now our last villain, Green Goblin 2 or Hobgoblin or whatever you want to call him, this actually works. I still don't think that James Franco is the right actor for this part; actually, I don't think Franco is the right actor for any part, sorry dude. However this has been a character that they have been evolving from the first film, and his storyline is played out here very well. Everything about his arc is believable and well done, and his involvement in the big battle royale at the end was very welcomed and gave that whole fight sequence some heart that I credit everyone involved for. Peter and Harry's arc ended up being the most interesting part to the film, and is why for the most part I liked it at all, so kudos on that.
As for Peter Parker, uggh! Tobey Maguire not only phones in this part, I think he's just text messaging most of it. You can tell this guy is tired of playing the character, and it's never more evident than it is here. Also, he isn't given much help from the writers with the whole "Black Suit" storyline where he has to become this badass when he's not Spiderman. Letting him wear his hair down in front of his face and wearing black jeans does not in my mind make a guy tougher, but that's all they have here to show for it. And the dance sequence that you've heard about and the "Staying Alive" esque walk down the street are as bad as you can imagine, and feel as out of place in this film as you would expect. Raimi has tried these kind of sequences in the past two films ("Raindrops Keep Falling on My Head" from part 2), and they've worked. Here it just doesn't.
And then we get the storyline that gets the most attention and is the least interesting, Parker and Mary Jane. Much like Franco, I don't care much for Dunst in this role. I think she was miscast from day one, and in the lesser of the films she stands out like a sore thumb. And once again the writing doesn't help. MJ comes off so selfish and uncaring in this film that I couldn't really give a shit about any of this love affair. Maguire and Dunst have never had great chemistry, but the focus on their relationship has never been as strong as it has in this film, and it gets to be rather unbearable.
But after all this I didn't hate the film. The action scenes are as stellar as they have always been. I especially liked the fight between Harry and Peter in the Osborne mansion. J.K. Simmons once again is terrific as J. Jonah Jameson; he owns this freaking character, and I hope in a future film they integrate him into the plot more. Thomas Hayden Church does a lot with what little he is given, and I commend him for that. Bryce Dalls Howard is also good as the underused Gwen Stacey, and I'm assuming she will be used more in the future, becasue if not what the hell was the point of even introducing her?
Still, it's funny because none of what I'm saying matters here. This film will probably make about 145 million this weekend and go on to make well over 300 million plus all of the record breaking numbers it's already doing overseas. And we will get to see a 4th one, and I'm starting to think I wouldn't mind seeing a new director in the role and maybe some new cast members as well. I still think Kirsten Dunst's comments about no one going to see the films if her, Tobey, and Raimi aren't back are ludicrous. Would you really not go see this film if Jake Gylenhall and Nikki Cox were cast as Spidey and MJ, and say, Peter Greengrass directed it? I don't think so. This is a film that shows the wear and tear it has put on the director and its stars over the past six years, and for that I utter a bit of dissapointment. I don't care if it takes them five years to make the next one, just make it right, and don't give us another mediocre effort like this.