Tuesday, May 8, 2007
SPIDER-MAN 3 (2007) - Sam Raimi
And so the first of the huge summer blockbusters arrives on our screens in the shape of everyone's favorite friendly neighborhood webslinger in Spider-Man 3. While I've never been such a massive fan of Spidey, I did enjoy director Sam Raimi's vision of Spider-Man in the first movie, and was thrilled by the much stronger second movie. The trailers for Spider-Man 3 looked extremely promising, and excitement up to release grew to the point of hysteria. And then the movie got it's release. Initial reports on Spider-Man 3 were sketchy, so I entered the theatre with a little trepidation. But I sat back and allowed for the fun to begin. Two hours and twenty minutes later, I fell out of the cinema in a stupor of shock brought on by what can only be described as one of the most tedious and disappointing films I've seen in quite a while! Where, oh where did it all go wrong?!
Spider-Man 3 opens with Peter Parker on a high. New York City is deeply in love with Spider-Man, his girlfriend Mary-Jane Parker makes her debut on Broadway and thoughts of marriage swim through Parker's head. Life is great. But forces begin to conspire against Spidey. Parker's best mate, son of his former enemy, Harry Osborn is plotting revenge on Peter for killing the Green Goblin. The man who killed Parker's Uncle Ben has escaped from prison and is on a path that will have him collide with the webslinger. Add to this an alien symbiote that's just itching to combine with Parker and a rival for his job in the Daily Bugle, and things are heating up for young Parker.
Flint Marko, the man who killed Uncle Ben (how's that for a totally contrived plot twist) literally stumbles across a molecular particle experiment and becomes fused with sand, giving birth to the Sandman. Why this experiment is conducted at night and in a facility that is heavily guarded by um... a wire fence is never fully explained, but we'll let that one go for now. Parker and Osborn, the new Green Goblin, have an arial scap and Harry ends up with a highly convenient case of amnesia. He and Parker are friends again. Parker has a few scrapes with Sandman, eventually merges with the alien symbiote and goes emo for a while, has issues, dances for a while, removes the symbiote and ends up in a confrontation with Sandman and Venom, the result of combining the symbiote with Eddie Brock, Parker's rival for the job at the Bugle.
Convoluted plot, eh? Damn straight it is, and we're subjected to it for the best part of 2 hours, 10 minutes before being given a by-the-numbers battle and a ridiculous conclusion. The biggest problem with Spider-Man 3 is the plot and pacing. There is no logical path to the story and the plot and subplots meander in and out of each other to the point of tedium.
They say a superhero is only as interesting as his villains, and never is that point more relevant than here. Marko, as the main villain is not developed at all. We're given a brief insight into why he's a criminal at the beginning of the movie, but beyond that, he isn't explored at all. And the creation of Sandman is extremely weak. He literally falls into his creation and this is glossed over by some fairly mediocre special effects.
The reborn Green Goblin, who was presented to us briefly at the end of Spider-Man 2 disappears due to amnesia. In a move that is more suited to afternoon soap operas, Harry Osborn once again becomes a side character only returning to the screen towards the end of the movie and making a character choice that is both ridiculous and tedious.
And as for Venom, well, he pops up towards the end. I'd imagine all the fan-boys who salivated at the thought of this character being brought to the screen will be bitterly disappointed at how little this character is used.
Sam Raimi really made an impact with his two previous Spider-Man films. His direction was slick and exciting while keeping things fun. But here, he's running on fumes. None of the actions scenes are a departure from what we've seen before. And in a third movie in a saga, this is almost unforgivable. When the action is set aside (which, unfortunately is for most of the film), we're subjected to scene after repetitive scene of Parker being arrogant and Mary-Jane looking forlorn. Even when Parker goes emo and starts to show an edge, Raimi delivers one of the most ill-advised and badly executed scenes in recent cinema history. I know what he was trying to do, but he fails miserably at it.
Acting wise, Tobey Maguire is his usual bland self as Peter Parker. Even when he has the opportunity to get a little badass, his facial expression fails to change. Only a change to his hairline lets us know he's being moody. Kirsten Dunst is equally bland as Mary-Jane Parker (except she gets to have her singing voice badly dubbed). Thomas Hayden Church is woefully under used as Flint Marko. The rest of the cast, including Topher Grace as Brock, Bryce Dallas Howard as love rival for Mary-Jane Gwen Stacy, and James Franco as Harry Osborn are all inconsequential. In fact, the most interesting part of the movie is a little cameo by cult favorite, Bruce Campbell doing his best Monty Python routine as a French waiter. But then, anything Bruce does is going to be great.
Overall, Spider-Man 3 is a terrible disappointment. After two great films, Raimi really drops the ball with this one. Sloppy direction, dull acting and a dreadfully boring script make this a really unsatisfactory third chapter in the Spider-Man saga. But it'll make a truck load of money and already, another three Spider-Man movies are greenlit. Hopefully they'll be a helluva lot more interesting than this one.