Sunday, May 06, 2007

Movie Review: 'Spiderman 3'

Strange as it may seem, wracking my brain, Lucasfilm seems to be the only production house that has successfully put out a trilogy of films which have maintained quality and been structurally and thematically sound. Saimi Raimi and co will not be joining those higher echelons of film-making. Part of me does not even want to give time to writing a review such is my frustration but more than any other film lining up to fill out this silly season, Spiderman has earned my respect and so I write.

For the first time, the film is overflowing with villainy, a fatal flaw to anyone who watched Batman become a bit player in his own films. Introducing Venom makes sense considering the darker themes of the movie, but considering the alien ranks amongst the great villains of Spiderman lore we never get a sense of real threat from him. The impact of the alien on Parker is entirely misjudged, we loose sympathy for the hero. Dance routines, wardrobe changes and brushing down your fringe do not a complex character make. Parker comments that he has done terrible things, but he hasn’t really, he never steeps to real depths that would signal this film is of a maturity we expect in these closing chapters. His redemption and the emergence of Venom are rushed and forced. Sandman, who gets a pointless backstory and resolution, gets some set pieces and is then forgotten for large chunks of time and worst of all brought back memories of ‘The Mummy 2’!. Most damaging is that the climax of Parker’s rivalry with Harry Osborn is neglected. Their confrontations are the most intense and dramatic, yet New Goblin is introduced only to be forgotten again for the bulk of the film. We are cheated of a really gripping Greek tragedy style culmination to the relationships that have developed over the past 2 films.

As for the relationship stuff which to Raimi’s credit was never reduced to mere filler previously, there is a sense of going off the rails, MJ Watson has become un appealing and insecure, Aunt May turns up and talks in non-sensical Hallmark cliches and Gwen Stacey is pointlessly introduced when there was a new love interest right across the hall set up in the last film.

Worst of all there is little spectacle, the first confrontation with New Goblin is the best action sequence and a crane gone awry which I though looked awesome initially in trailers was very disappointing and I’m convinced was shortened from the initial clip I saw online. Why the man gets the freedom of the city following a spate of debris crushing people on the street is beyond me.

I spoke earlier about how Spiderman has earned my respect, though there was the obvious 3-deal picture inked, there was always a sense of care and insight that evades other money-spinners. My favourite of the classic story structures is the isolation of the hero, the ripping away of the security and stability surrounding our protagonist setting the scene for the hero to take charge of his situation. I take it as a personal attack that this is what this film could have been. There is no great epic scene where you get the sense of heroism or clarity but instead a feeling that this earnest boy has not grown at all in past events but is a pawn at the discretion of others. That is not a hero.


Godwhacker said...

Hey CK,
I liked the movie a lot, in spite of it's flaws. They could have stretched this out into two movies and left us waiting for a year or so to see the end.

That said, you make a lot of good points and this is one of the best reviews I've read on the film. But come on! Did you really think the Ewoks were so great?

CK said...

Thanks for the compliment godwhacker,

Certainly everyone seems open to a 4th movie so to stretch the story would have been worthwhile,

I did like Doc Ock but I think the second film would have been a better place for Venom, to see Parker turn to a darker place after telling the truth to Aunt May and still keeping his secret from Harry and Mary Jane would have had potential and fed into a cliffhanger or a good set up for a confrontation with New Goblin in this movie.

There are plenty of problems with Star Wars, but there was good structuring and clear progression of the story. As for those pesky Ewoks, that painful British reporter at the end of Spiderman is easily more annoying! Though not as annoying as Cate Capshaw in 'Temple of Doom', part of that other trilogy which Lucasfilm are responsible for and are determined to mess with next year!

Godwhacker said...

I guess we'll have to keep our fingers crossed for Indiana.

The Hangar Queen said...

Howareya CK?
I don't know what's worse.Ewoks or Capshaw? Then again neither match Jar-Jar Binks for sheer vomit potential.
Good,thoughful review.Cheers

Eamonn said...

I agree pretty much with what you have to say about Spidey. As a very big fan of the first two installments my disappointment in this travesty is still very much at the anger phase.

It hurts real bad that Spidey has gone the way of the original Superman.

I cannot however agree on your Trilogy remark, unless its intended scope is merely comic book adaptations.

CK said...

The Hanger Queen, thanks for your comment, though god dam you for reminding me of Jar Jar Binks, he is indeed vomatrotious.

Tuathal, I don't know which trilogy remark you refer to. Do you mean that Lucasfilm have put out the best trilogies? What other solid trilogies are there? The Godfather comes to mind but there was a really big lull with the last one.

Eamonn said...

I refer CK to your assertion that 'Lucasfilm seems to be the only production house that has successfully put out a trilogy of films which have maintained quality and been structurally and thematically sound.'

If your nitpicking about Godfather III then Empire's clear superiority means that quality was hardly 'maintained' throughout Lucas' holy trilogy either.

And yes the Ewoks sucked, but luckily the series had by then built up enough good faith that they were forgiven. If they had appeared in the first chapter of the trilogy, like Jar Jar, they would be similarly reviled.

Simon said...

Are you missing the three colours trilogy there CK. THought you being a movie buff would have not forgotten that

CK said...

First up I'm a movie fan, not a movie buff and Juliette Binoche drinking a cup of coffee staring out a window in 'Blue' is one of the most beautiful things I've ever seen on film.

There are plenty of trilogies I could have mentioned, the Samurai Trilogy,the Dollars trilogy and as you said Simon, the Colours trilogy all of which are almost consistently excellent.People are also fans of the Lord of the Rings trilogy and the Back to the Future trilogy.

So yes there are a number of trilogies out there. I chose Star Wars and Indiana Jones as good examples of blockbuster trilogies that have huge followings as despite the outcome of the 3rd movie Spiderman also does.

Indiana Jones are stand alone films as in some respect the Spiderman films are. Star Wars stretched characters stories and plots over 3 films as have the Spiderman films. They both achieved classic status, came from the same production house and so I chose them as a starting point.

Ewoks are reveilled and had I chosen Godfather as a good example of a trilogy I'm fairly confident I would have had more people on my case.

Eamonn said...

Temple of Doom easily sucked as badly as Godfather III. Its not as bad as Spidey 3 but its far inferior to the other two installments in the Indiana franchise.