Wednesday, May 09, 2007

Spider-Man 3

Sam Raimi, I trusted you.

I enjoyed Spider-Man 1. Enjoyed it a lot. So when Spider-Man 2 came out, I was cautious, but I went. Wow! Even better! I agreed with Roger Ebert, who said it was the best superhero movie ever.

I was delighted to hear that the series would continue, with Sam Raimi at the helm.
And now, having seen #3, all I can say is, Sam, how could you?

Spider-Man 3 is as bad as Spidey 2 was good. Half way through, I was so bored I considered walking out. There are great FX, of course: Sandman is spectacular. But the flying lacked joy, the fights lacked real passion, and the plot was tangled and mostly stupid. When a major factor driving the plot is childish behavior on the part of a major figure, all I want to do is slap everyone and go home. When the plot is resolved by a deus ex machina, then it is definitely time to go home.

All I can say is, Sam, don't play it again. Please.

Thumb's down for this stinker.

Tuesday, May 08, 2007

Spider-Man 3 - Spidey's Back

"Look comes the Spider-Man." For the third time.

This one cost over a quarter of a million dollars to make (a figure they'll recover within the first month). It has three -- count 'em -- three villains. Yet it doesn't come close to the emotional impact I felt from Spider-Man and Spider-Man 2.

Is the reason for this the clogged arteries of an expensive franchise, that it's hard to provide set-up scenes for characters when you have so many of 'em on screen? Perhaps. I really missed backstory information on new character Eddie Brock (played with great smarminess by That '70's Show guy, Topher Grace). I mean, where'd he come from? Why is he there at all? What's his connection to Peter? Newcomer Gwen Stacy (who preceded Mary Jane Watson in the original comic book) fares better, getting several small scenes where she can show her platinum-blonde stuff. Thomas Haden Church's Sandman is a sad mope of a man, and we get a pretty solid backstory on him. But speaking of clogged, we get long scenes with Aunt May to drive some ethical points through. We even get Uncle Ben, who's been dead for two movies now.

Speaking of the Sandman, the special effects are just awesome whenever he's onscreen. The sand is just amazing. Generally speaking, however, most of the special effects scenes left me dizzy, literally. And I think the cause of that is Sam Raimi's incessant close-ups.

It's a cool premise for a third shot, though. Everything is going right for our boy Peter Parker. New Yorkers heart Spider-Man. His girlfriend loves him and is in a Broadway play. His life is clicking on all cylinders...until some black goo comes from outer space and turns his red suit to black. And we watch Peter Parker turn to black as well.

In truth, his life wasn't going all that well. He's the typical male when it comes to listening to his girlfriend's troubles. As M.J. points out in one scene, it's not all about him. And those scenes worked well, and we understand the anguish at both ends.

There are some really fun scenes here, especially when we watch a hubris-endowed Peter strut into a nightclub.

But the whole in this case is not the sum of its parts. It could've been so much better if they'd just left out a few characters and spent the time wisely on those who are important to the main story.

I still liked it, and Spidey 3 is likely to be a lot better than any Pirates movie you'll see this summer. Thumb's up.