Friday, May 04, 2007
Spidey 3: The Lowdown
I love Spiderman. I'm seriously a Spidey guy all the way, since yung'n days. (Or for psych majors, Jung'n days). Seriously, I have an e,barassing "bathroom picture" when I was younger, but what makes me happy about that is knowing I'm wearing my Spiderman sweatshirt. (I seriously wish I still had that sweatshirt, but in my size. It was really cool). I digress though, I think when it comes to superheroes, Spiderman is the best. And since these movies have been coming out, I gotta say, I'm happy as hell. It's just so much fun seeing Spiderman up on a big screen, doing what he does best.
That's why it disheartens me to report that Spiderman 3 is not all it can be. Don't get me wrong, it's still more than enjoyable, it's just that... well, remember in Jurassic Park when Jeff Goldblum asks "Now, you do plan on having DINOSAURS in your dinosaur park, right?" That's kind of how this movie feels. I'd really like Spiderman in my Spiderman movie.
(Off topic, in college my friend Paolo - who directed the great stage hit "Creepy Guys Fried Chicken" (written by yours truly)- and I were in a screenwriting class together, and one of his submissions was a Batman script. This is right after Batman and Robin had been released. His take was darker and brought Batman to a strange place, but it curiously lacked Batman for the first 30 or so pages. This prompted me and my friend Nails (partner-in-crime in the fountain/bubble fiasco at our graduation) to ask if Paolo intended on having Batman show up in his Batman script).
Where was I? Oh, right. Spidey. Yeah...
I can't say too much without giving stuff away, and I don't want to do that. I'll say what's good about the movie though: Eye candy. Seriously, it's a really cool movie, and when it's working, it is ON. The action sequences in this film are quite cool, mostly involving the Sandman, but some of the Venom stuff is neat, too. At first, it looks a little Playstation-ey (especially the fight between Harry and Peter in the beginning), but it gets better as it goes, culminating in an epic battle that made me wide eyed with joy.
Oh, and there's a scene with Bruce Campbell that is probably the best thing in the movie.
Most of the new additions to the cast are good. Thomas Hayden "Lowell" Church makes a good brute as Sandman. (If they ever make a comic of The Goon, he'd be PERFECT!) He has a good backstory that adds a bit more to him, much like with Doc Ock in part 2. And Topher Grace is pretty damn terrific as Eddie Brock, and later, he seems to be having a hell of a good time chewing up scenery as Venom. They make a good bad guy team.
Bryce Dallas howard is alright, and pulls off a really difficult scene with some style and grace, but overall, she's not given much to do. This leads me into my problems with the film. The most apt metaphor would be a cicrcus carney spinning plates, but paying attention to the most dull plate that doesn;t want to spin, but he keeps trying and trying, and he'll occasionally spin the other plates again, and they'll be neat, but then he keeps coming back to that one troublesome, dull plate.
Yeah. That's the metaphor I'm looking for. Or the much simpler (and vaguely related) version: This movie has too much on its plate. There is the love story between Peter Parker and Mary Jane, and the movie focuses for a bit on the strain that being Spiderman has on their life. Apparently, the main problem is that it makes Peter into kind of a jerk who doesn't pay attention to his woman. And the movie focuses a little too long on the ups and downs of their love story. All the while, other things sort of happen, but it takes a really long time to get there.
It's interesting that it took three years to get this one made (the reason being to take their time and get it just right) whereas Spiderman 2 had a shorter window from the first one, but told a crackerjack* story. The script definitely needed at least one more pass, to smooth over the plot holes, and streamline everything. As it stands, it feels sloppy and weak. Not to mention a little lazy. Juggling Peter and Mary Jane, and Harry's involvement with everything, and Sandman's story, and Venom's story, and Gwen Stacy, and somehow tying in Sandman to the killing of Uncle Ben in the first movie... it's all too much. It gets to the point where I just want an action scene to distract me from all that's going on. Is that so wrong?
All in all, it's not bad. But the regular actors (Maguire, Dunst, Franco, et al) seem a little tired of these characters. (All with the exception of J.K. Simmons as J. Jonah Jameson. They should make an entire movie about this guy). There's a lot happening, but not a lot for everyone to do. If there is an inevitable fourth Spiderman, some new blood would definitely be appreciated. I'd suggest letting Peter Jackson give it a try. There'd be a nice symmetry involved if Raimi took over the Hobbit. Just saying.
It's not a bad movie at all. It's quite enjoyable at parts, although there is a scene where the movie kind of becomes The Mask. (It's weird.) It just tries to do too much, when it could have gotten by with half the story and been just as good. It's a fitting end to these films, as it ties a lot of threads. But it definitely continues the Marvel Films trend of decent-to-good first movie, awesome second movie, lackluster but still "alright" third movie. This however, bodes very well for the upcoming Fantastic Four flick.
Two more things: First, the presennce of Danny Elfman is sorely missed. The music is a little overbearing, and is often used too much as sonic glue). Seconnd, there's a portrait of Willem Dafoe that hangs on the wall in the Osborne apartment. It's brilliant, but it causes a lot of unintentional laughter. Much like a lot of the movie. Regardless, I want that portrait in my living room. It'll go right next to the Shaun standee. (I made him laugh, you know?)
*10 points for finally managing to work "crackerjack" into something. AND, to truly stand behind my use of it.