Batman Forev…um, I mean, Spider-Man 3.

§ May 7th, 2007 § Filed under Uncategorized Comments Off on Batman Forev…um, I mean, Spider-Man 3.

One of the few times in the film Spidey manages to keep his mask on.

So, Spider-Man 3. As I predicted a few days ago, it was entertaining, but wasn’t as good as Spider-Man 2 (and here’s my review of that film). Not to say it was bad, but it wasn’t as well-paced and forward moving and as…innovative, I guess, as the previous two installments. It had a feeling of “okay, we’ve seen this. What else you’ve got?”

It did do a reasonably good job of weaving all the plotlines and villains and romantic entanglements together, and felt a bit like reading any given issue of Amazing Spider-Man from the 1970s, written by Gerry Conway. For some people, I realize that’s not a compliment, but I happen to like the confused melodrama of ’70s Marvel Comics. Not necessarily good, but entertaining, much like this film.

So, there be SPOILERS AHEAD, mateys…though, as I saw someone mention somewhere, if any of the developments in this film come as any surprise to you, you’ve either 1) never ever read a comic book before in your life, or 2) you somehow managed to avoid the trailers. So, that said, let’s get into some of my spoilery observations of the film, immediately after this image of Tobey Maguire emoting. When you see his next emotion, spoilers will be over. Okay? Okay!

  • I was very surprised that they went for the extraterrestrial origins of Venom (who, by the way, is never called by that name in the course of the movie, that I recall). It would seem opening up the Spider-films to “beings from outer space” is some kind of violation of the film’s environment, but perhaps that’s overthinking it. But you know someone, somewhere, is complaining that Spidey didn’t get his black costume from the Secret Wars planet, like in the comics.

    I also sort of want to call “no way” on the coincidence of that meteor with that Venom-critter just happening to fall within crawling distance of Peter Parker, but I guess I don’t really have any reason to. I mean, if that’s the “gimme” you need to get things going, okay, I’ll work with you there.

  • You know, if you’ve got some Thomas Haden Church in your movie, you’ve got yourself some quality. And Good Lord A’mighty, if his portrayal of the Sandman didn’t look like it popped right out of a page drawn by Steve Ditko….

    However, the attempts at making him a sympathetic character sort of fell flat for me. In Spider-Man 2, Alfred Molina’s portrayal of Doctor Octopus had some emotional weight, as we got to know him before the fall into villainy. He was a hero of Peter’s and was genuinely friendly to him, he had a loving relationship with his wife…so when the fall came, it had that much more of an impact. By contrast, the Sandman is just a thug made sympathetic because, well, let’s see…got it! He has a sick kid! That cliché always works! Church did his darnedest to sell it, though.

  • A couple more things about Sandman:

    1. His origin was beautifully presented, as he attempts and reattempts to reform his body out of sand. I thought that was particularly well done.

    2. That “demoleculizer” pit (or whatever) that he fell into…you’d think there’d be a guard rail or a cover or something. “DANGER – POSSIBILITY OF DISINTEGRATION.”

    3. Plugging the Sandman into the death of Uncle Ben does the one thing almost no one has been able to do with Spider-Man’s origin: it screws it up. Spider-Man has one of the most perfect origins in the history of superherodom…making the burglar not the direct killer of Uncle Ben dilutes the impact of Peter’s involvement in his own uncle’s death, and undermines the guilt that drives his superheroics. Yes, the burglar still causes the shooting, but having someone else as the gunman…that just felt unnecessary.

    4. Another call of “no way” – Peter letting the Sandman just get away at the end. Okay, great, you forgave him…still a criminal, still killed your uncle.

  • I don’t have a whole lot to say about Venom, really…I think he worked well visually, and I’m glad that Eddie Brock’s motivation (that he hates Peter Parker, rather than Spider-Man, for ruining his career) made the transition intact. A nice touch was that Brock, after bonding with the alien costume, still has Venom’s misshapen, yellowed teeth whenever he uncovers his face.

    Also, for all the character’s overuse in the comics, he’s still a great villain and it was fun to see him in live action, for even as little as he appeared.

    I should mention that I expected to think “hey, that’s Eric from That ’70s Show” every time I saw Topher Grace on screen…but like Church with Sandman, Grace sold his Eddie Brock/Venom.

  • I also don’t have much to say about the Harry Osborne character arc in this film, beyond thinking that one character who spoke up to Harry about how Norman Osborne really died probably should have said something sooner. But I’m enough of a softie to enjoy Harry and Spidey teaming up at the end to fight the villains.
  • If you have a James Cromwell in your movie, and you don’t really get any significant use out of your James Cromwell by the end of the picture, then you’ve let your James Cromwell go to waste. Honestly, was he in the movie for any other reason besides pumping up the big names in the credits? His role as the dad in Revenge of the Nerds was meatier than this.
  • What we no longer need: cameos by Stan Lee in Marvel movies. This really needs to be the last one. Now that Stan the Man’s laid a “‘Nuff Said” to one of his characters on-screen, I don’t know if there’s really anywhere to go from there.
  • When Peter Parker falls under the insidious influence of the Venom costume, there’s that one moment when he looks at his reflection, and purposefully pushes his hair down in front of his face to make himself look “bad.” Even as Evil Peter, he’s still a huge dork.

    Also, didn’t Evil Peter look a bit like Peter Petrelli from Heroes at times? Kinda? Sorta? Well, he did to me.

  • Bruce Campbell’s appearance in the film was greeted with cheers by our audience. And rightfully so, as his role was a real blast. (Did I understand the implication correctly, that the character he was playing wasn’t really French, but trying very hard to convince Peter otherwise? That’s sorta how I saw it.)
  • Other good laughs in the film, mostly intentional: Evil Peter’s Saturday Night Fever-esque strut through the streets of New York, and the incredulous reactions of passers-by; Evil Peter’s Jazz Club dance, which was silly fun; and Jonah getting rooked by the kid selling him the camera (“film’s extra”). Some folks complained about the excessive goofiness of this film; I think it needed more. “Wha–? A Sam Raimi film, goofy? The devil you say.”
  • Speaking of Jonah, I’ve probably mentioned it before, but I would probably watch a whole film just about him. J.K. Simmons so nails the character that every scene with him in it is an absolute delight. Even that initial bit, with the over-the-top intercom buzzing and interruptions that dragged and teetered into unfunniness, was saved by Simmons’ nutty portrayal of Jonah.
  • Another character I was glad to see was Peter’s landlord’s daughter Ursula, played by Mageina Tovah. Ursula’s just cute as a button, obviously crushing hard on Peter, and totally wrapped up in the soap opera Peter’s life has become. Watching Evil Peter take advantage of her kindness, making her bring him cookies and milk, certainly emphasized Evil Pete’s bastardry. How dare you be mean to that sweet girl, you big jerk!
  • Three movies in, and I’m still not buying any kind of chemistry between Mary Jane and Peter. I’ll accept it’s there for the sake of the story, but only through my own suspension of disbelief, not through anything I’m being given by the actors.
  • Four words: NEEDS. MORE. BETTY. BRANT. (That’s Jonah’s secretary, for the uninitiated.)
  • I saw a couple people mention this, and it struck me at the end of the film, too…no triumphant Spidey swinging through the streets of New York? Okay, MJ and Peter made up, I guess, but leave the audience with one more shot of Spidey, on an up-note, at least!

Okay, that’s it for the SPOILERS. Ultimately…good action scenes, solid special effects, and…passable characterization. If you liked the first two films, here’s more of the same. Maybe a little too much more, but the same nonetheless.

Since a sequel is inevitable, given that the movie made about one quadrillion dollars this weekend…I’m kinda hoping we’ll get the Lizard finally. C’mon, they’ve been teasing us with Dr. Curt Conners in every film. And my girlfriend would love to see Kraven the Hunter, which would work great with the Lizard. Conners turns himself into the Lizard, who runs rampant through the Big Apple, and Spidey can’t stop him…so the authorities put the call out to famous big game hunter Kraven, who eventually decides he wants Spidey as a trophy as well. See? It’d be perfect. Hollywood, call me, we’ll do lunch.

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