Saturday, August 4, 2012

Spider-Man 3

I had never seen Spider-Man 3 before today. The main reason I waited this long is because every review of this movie- both word of mouth and written by professionals- made it sound like a cross between Gigli and Ishtar (Ishtar isn't even that bad of a movie. It just has a certain reputation) in terms of quality. I have always noticed that coming into a movie with low expectations always makes it easier to enjoy. If you are one of the many many people who absolutely hated this movie, just know that I was expecting to hate this movie too.

I actually watched this movie in two sittings. Apple TV makes it all-to-easy to stop halfway through a movie and pick it up later. Maybe I watched this movie in two different moods, but I enjoyed the first half a lot more than the second half. By the time I began to wrap my mind around everything they were trying to do in this movie, I realized it bit off way more than it could chew. Many of the intertwined subplots could easily be given their own movie. Spider-Man facing up to the son of the Green Goblin (who happens to be his best friend who also has feelings for Mary Jane) and answering for what happened in the first movie could be a fine movie unto itself. Sandman is definitely a movie unto itself. In the first half of the movie, you get the feeling that the other plots won't play into things at all. I would've been perfectly happy with a Sandman movie.The Venom subplot could also make an excellent movie, but not the way they did it here. Anyway, with all the Mary Jane stuff and the multiple villains as well as Peter's need to succeed in his career, there was just too much story for one movie to tell. This movie is Frank Costanza's over-seasoned meat that sent sixteen of his own men to the latrine.

Before I really launch into the things this movie did wrong, let me first mention a few things it did right. They cast another perfect villain in Sandman. Thomas Haden Church looked almost exactly like the comic book Sandman, and he acted the crap out of that role (of course a lot of it was CGI, but the parts that were clearly him were very well acted). James Franco wasn't even as bad as he was in the first two movies, so that's a plus. Oh, and let's not forget that Bruce Campbell always delivers a solid cameo. I think Spider-Man 3 gives him his best role in the trilogy. It actually seems like he knows French, and I honestly wouldn't be surprised if he did.

Now here's where I lay into it. Topher Grace is not made for the big screen. He wasn't even the best actor on That 70's Show, and he really doesn't make a good Venom. Venom is a fan favorite, so that's not really a role you want to miscast. Topher Grace played it weakly. He wasn't menacing, and he didn't even seem very evil. I feel I should mention that Topher Grace is my wife's celebrity crush (mine, as always, are Kari Byron and Barbara Feldon). She loves the guy and she didn't even like him as Venom. It was a bad choice, but it wasn't the only bad choice in the movie.

Tobey Maguire with an emover (emo+combover=emover) is a very bad choice. People hate emo. The non-emo public sees emo as a joke. You can't give him a dumb haircut and expect us to just think, "Oh, that makes sense. If he was getting darker and more violent he would absolutely wear his hair like an idiot." Oh, and I didn't see the movie in the theater so I don't know if the theatrical release featured "Stayin' Alive" by The Bee Gees or not. The scene in which Peter Parker is clearly doing a Tony Manero parody would be uncomfortable enough with the right music, but with the wrong music it's an abomination. I hope the theatrical release featured "Stayin' Alive" because the generic porn music on the DVD version just makes the scene uncomfortable to sit through.

I also couldn't stand the fact that they went out of their way to say, "Hey! Peter Parker is becoming a bad guy! Look at the bad things he does!" They honestly spent a half hour more time on that point alone than the audience needed. If they had trusted the audience to understand this simple plot point, they could have spent way more time developing the many (too many) other subplots and the movie wouldn't have been as bad as it was.

Now here's the thing: I was really enjoying Spider-Man 3 right up until he started dancing in the street and acting like a jerk. When all that ridiculousness was happening, I actually turned to my wife and said, "Oh. Now I know why people hate this movie." It really falls to crap in the end despite having a decent amount of promise. If you aren't expecting too much, you'll find some things to really enjoy in this movie. If you expect it to be anywhere near as good as the first two Spider-Man movies, you'll be sorely disappointed. Yup. Take that advice. It's only been 5 years since this movie came out, so this is super timely. (I literally realized as I was writing that conclusion that I might be the only person on the planet who hadn't seen and been disappointed by Spider-Man 3 yet. Bad job by me).

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