Sunday, November 4, 2007

Coming to Terms with Spider-Man 3

I finally got around to re-watching Spider-Man 3 this weekend, partly because I’m a huge fan of the character and the first two films in the series, but mostly because I refused to believe that this film was a franchise-destroying, unmitigated mess. The DVD answers some questions as to why the filmmakers made the decisions they did, but I cannot in any way recommend it for purchase.

I had seen the film in theaters and walked away with a major sense of what-the-hell. The first two acts are pretty decent, albeit a bit contrived and sopping with coincidence. The guy made out of sand was really your uncle’s killer? Your friend falls 20 stories and suffers short-term memory loss that just so happens to eliminate his desires to kill you? Then there’s the whole space goop meteorite landing right next to the only superhero in the world at this point? With no explanation as to why that happened?

I’m not an expert at writing fiction, which is why my latest attempts at storytelling are locked away in my hard drive or scribbled onto some notes in a drawer in my bedroom. But come on. A multi-million dollar franchise and THIS is the best they could come up with? I’m just baffled.

I won’t even get into how wrong this film gets the whole “evil Spidey” thing. Note to filmmakers: if you have to make your protagonist wear his hair differently and put on FREAKIN’ EYELINER to convey a change of character, you’re not doing your job. I did, however, really like the montage of “evil Peter” strutting down the street, snapping his fingers and doing his best Tony Manero impression. He’s a geek giving us his version of what’s cool and I get that.

Unfortunately, the movie dissolves like Sandman in a hot tub immediately after this sequence. A third act with freakin’ color commentary from reporters, with distracting cameos from Sam Raimi’s kids (Sam, kids don’t say “wicked cool” at all) and the most unsatisfying ending to a major motion picture I’ve experienced in some time. Why shoehorn a character like Venom into the film if you’re only going to short-change him? And kill him, preventing his appearance in any of the inevitable sequels?

The answer to a lot of the fan griping about this movie is revealed in the director’s commentary. Turns out, studio pressure killed this movie, forcing Sam to include the black costume storyline long after a script had been written. Why? Because the fans wanted Venom. That’s great, Sony. You sold some extra action figures. But your “fan service” was a slap in the face. I don’t blame the Raimi or the cast for wanting to disassociate themselves from this series for the next installment.

On a lighter note, the Port Chester High School Marching Band totally rocks during their short scene about midway through the film. But then again, as a former PC band geek, I may be a bit biased.

2 comments:

Jenn said...

Actually, kids DO say "wicked cool"... just not in New York. At all. It's highly a Boston thing.

Oh, also, a friend of mine just got an unpaid gig writing comic reviews for BrokenFrontier.com. Too geeky for you, or do you want me to find out how you can get it on that? Unpaid, but always nice to pad a resume.

(PS- If I'm going to mention the opportunity, I should at least plug the friend involved- He just published his first review, for Messiah CompleX Part 1.
Check it out.)

(PPS- Am I the only one who comments on this thing? James, get more geeky friends.)

Andrew said...

Hey I resent that remark, I am just a little slow on the "blog thing" excuuuuuse me!

I am, unfortunately and unwittingly, guilty of fanning the merchandizing flames. I did purchase a venom plush from target. Small yes, but potent.

I love venom, possibly more than M. Night Shyamalan loves twists, and before the movie came out I had heard the buzz about venom being in the movie. I wet myself. But I had to ask, why isn’t he in any of the ads? Where was the face of evil that I love? I come now to realize that he wasn’t part of the merch, because he was added so late! WTF?!?! And now he’s dead.

I refuse to believe that, if the studios knew the fans wanted venom so badly that they would butcher a Spiderman movie to put him in it, then they damn well better bring him back! Come on! They did it with Electra! And see how well... oh... hmmm... I see.

Aside from all that hoopla I am glad that they didn’t make a stand alone venom movie that did not at all include the Spiderman storyline. That would have made me even more sad.

So I guess the moral of the story is that they finally got the origin of venom out there. Even though the buff brawny Eddie Brock was portrayed (or betrayed) by the wimpiest looking mad alive, Topher Grace. And now were stuck with him. Sigh