Saturday, May 12, 2007

"Spiderman 3" (2007) Sam Raimi

The central premise of Sam Raimi’s epic Spiderman 3 concerns the alien symbiote that crashes to earth and affixes itself to Tobey Maguire’s nerdy Peter Parker. This black goo influences Peter and he turns into “evil-Spidey”, illustrated in the film by a black suit and an emo fringe. Thus, the superhero is transformed, caught between his sweet, geektastic nobility and his newfound swagger, all eyeliner and hip-thrusts.

In somewhat the same way, I myself face an internal struggle when it comes to my feelings about Spidey 3. My purist self insists that it’s badly made, overlong and cheesy, while my snarky side tells me that it’s pure fun escapism. There’s no doubt that I was thoroughly entertained by most of this film (though at times I began to drift) but the snobbish side of me refuses to call it a Great Film.

My main problem is the sheer bulk of the film. In 2 ½ hours we have to grapple with three supervillians, the symbiote, Peter’s relationships with Mary Jane and Gwen Stacey and the tying up of any loose ends from the first two. Being a Spiderman movie, we have to have shots of our friendly neighbourhood you-know-what zooming through New York, a Stan Lee cameo and emotional pathos. Being a Sam Raimi movie, we need Bruce Campbell. Being the third and (most likely) final film with these actors, we need it to exceed all our expectations, thrill, amaze and move us. I’m not entirely sure it accomplished all this, but it certainly tried.

The three villains are all interesting in their own way. The Sandman (Thomas Hayden Church) has the best visuals and acting, but his story is a little sentimental even for a Spiderman film. Venom’s graphics are great, but Sam Raimi’s well-publicised dislike of the character means that he’s shoehorned in at the last minute and doesn’t get to do much (although Topher Grace makes a convincing Peter Parker negative). Harry Osborne (the wonderful James Franco) dons his father’s suit to create the best baddie; a proper backstory, likeable character and convincing acting make his scenes some of the standout moments. However, do we really need the three of them? The culmative battle scene with the four is impressive, but not worth the struggle it takes getting there, plodding through their various storylines with not enough time to fully explore any.

The alien symbiote is a strange beast, transforming our hero not into Evil Spiderman as much as Fall Out Spider-Boy. The scene in which he struts down the high street in full-on Saturday Night Fever mode is too bizarre for words. I would have much preferred a darker Spiderman. They could have easily have thrown the emo-stylin’s onto the dvd special features, but in a packed cinema the general air was that of utter bemusement.

At the screening I attended, the scenes that got the best receptions were the two humourous interludes. The first starred one of my favourite characters, editor of the Daily Bugle, J. Jonah Jameson, who got a chance to hark back to 1940’s screwball comedies for more screen time than ever before. The second scene involved Peter, M.J., a wedding ring and a hilarious French waiter, played by scene-stealer Bruce Campbell. Stan Lee’s cameo elected murmurs of approval from the audience as well, while I heard that at some screenings (although not, unfortunately, mine) the audience actually applauded Peter Parker for punching Mary-Jane. If Kirsten Dunst was a good actress, I’d care.

Following the magnificent Spiderman 2, this film is a definite step-down. Leave your sky-high expectations at the door, cheer at Bruce Campbell and enjoy the campiness of it all – just be thankful they didn’t hire Brett Ratner.


Damien Kelly said...

That's exactly what my friends told me...and what everyone else is saying too. You should get a job at this!

Ann Marie said...

I know what you mean. I half watched it the other night (I was studying) and although parts of me just said it was bad the rest of me though it was a good film. I mean it was opening the summer blockbuster season and in that category it had it all. I did have to laugh at emo Parker though.
Apparently Sony want to continue on and make more films though as far as I've heard the actors don't. Should be interesting to see where that goes.

Catherine said...

I read an intervew with Kirsten Dunst where she said she'd willingly sign up for numero 4 but only if Raimi/Maguire were also involved. I doubt they will be, I'm sure Sam Raim wants to try something new and Tobey Maguire doesn't want to be known as Spidey forever...

Ninquelosse said...

Ok dude, a while back you asked what I used to do screen caps with.
I dunno if you've found something since then, but if not, I just tripped over this program:

I've been playing with it for a few minutes, and it's pretty cool. You can also capture audio and video from dvds on it.

Anonymous said...

ytshtosog Crush The Castle