Friday, May 04, 2007

Spiderman 3 Review

Last night my girlfriend got us tickets to go see Spiderman 3 in IMAX at the 12:01 am showing (yes because of this surprise she now holds eternal sway over me ;)). I have literally been talking about the movie for months if not over a year and she even got me a sweet looking Spiderman 3 poster for my office that you can see in this post: Poster

So after pining over the movie for upwards of a year you can imagine my expectations were quite high. It was refreshing to see that the movie was not ranked rotten over here and that all in all it would be an enjoyable movie - something I never really doubted. But would it just satisfy this Spiderman fan or would it merely be passable.

I remember seeing the original Spiderman in college right about the time I was graduating. I even remember dragging my mom along when she was visiting me down at UCSB (and she actually liked it). I still pop this DVD in my player every few months just to watch Peter Parker become Spiderman and deal with the beginnings of his troubled young life. Spiderman had a good amount of action, not too much, but more focused on the character of Parker and we understand the troubles he is facing internally with the using his newfound abilities responsibly but still trying to maintain some semblance of a normal life.

Spiderman 2 carried these themes and had the same approach as the first movie with regards to the villains - there was just one - Doctor Octopus. The refresing doses of humor remained and Parker's struggle with what he wanted to be and what he should be remained. The action in this flick realy upped the ante from Spiderman with both the train scene, church fight scenes and the climatic end battle being far superior to most of the action. This movie also has a permanent home near my DVD player ...

So what about Spiderman 3 ... what follows is my slightly sporadic review ...

In spoiler-free form I would say that this movie is a fantastic, super-charged movie, and one of the top comic book movies to-date. If you are a Spiderman fan you will see this movie - no question. You will want to see Venom come to life, see Sandman in all of his glorious detail(down to a grain - literally), see Parker succumb to the anger and agression of the "black suit" (still spoiler free - its in the preview). I loved the movie - period. It is not without a few flaws, but overall this is what I think many people have been waiting for. The action is more, the humor intact, and the struggle that is Peter Parker's life is still prevalent throughout. What this is not - this is not X-Men 3 (altough I like love that movie - but as a 3rd and compared to this that does feel like less of a complete trilogy), this is DEFINITELY NOT Batman Forever or Batman and Robin. If you are reading about these comparisons they are WRONG. This is mostly more of the Spiderman people have grown to like or love from the first two - a lot more.

The movie starts off similarly to Spiderman 2. The opening credit sequence shows us scenes from the past two movies and it serves as a good way of revisitng what Peter Parker has already been through.

Spiderman 3 takes the action found in the first two films and builds on it ten-fold.

The set pieces and effects are amazing - the choreography amazing. The use of some of Spiderman's agility and "moves" is so well thought out in one scene where he is falling through the air that you can tell the creators have done their homework in making the action scenes not just another action scene. This is Spiderman brought to life. I don't want to spoil anymore action but when it starts in this movie it takes off. In some places it is brutal and bone-crunching - we see these characters with superhuman powers taking it to each other. It's not just punches and kicks and in some scenes the calculated damage done to both sides (both "hero" and "villain") made more than a few audience members oooh, ahh, and gasp. (I cannot stop thinking about one scene in particular). As far as action this movie answers the complaint from anyone who ever said Spiderman and Spiderman 2 lacked action will have nothing to complain about here. I have read some reviews about the effects not being up to par - ridiculous. This movie is a visual feast for the eyes for both fans and non-fans alike. If you have enjoyed seeing spidey swing about and battling the bad guys then you will enjoy this.

SPOILER**** Highlight to see ...

Additionally the action in many of the scenes has an emotional backing as well. The fights between Peter Paker and Harry (new Goblin) in particular. At one point when Spiderman is struggling with the symbiote's effects on his character (mood and agression mostly) he inflicts a crazy amount of venomous (no pun intended) pain upon Harry - web-slinging a goblin bomb right at an incapicitated Harry knowing full well it will explode. The audience both cheered and gasped all at once - not sure what to think of this "darker" more hateful Spiderman.


Something that some people seem to either love or hate about the movie is that it does have three villains. This is a departure from the last two where there was one villain in each. At times this makes the movie feel a little rushed or contrived in terms of how the plot jumps from one to another - so the script feels a little less cohesive then what is found in the first two movies. This did not personally bother me - I understand Spiderman's troubles from the first two movies - his character is developed. I understand the struggles around Mary-Jane, and Uncle Ben -we don't necessarily need more of that - it needs to continue yes (and it does - it is still the focal point), but it doesn't need the same treatment it was given before. I also didn't want to see a movie just about Sandman or another movie with just Green Goblin - I have always wanted to see Venom visualized on the screen. As a character goes he is the least interesting (except for how Venom is born) but as a villain in a comic book movie what more are you looking for. Still at times when all three are thrown together it seems the director/writers had to use a few more contrived plot affordances here and there. But damn if this isn't a comic book movie of epic proportions. Fans of the comic and character should be much more forgiving for some of the jumpiness - other people may feel like they cannot follow what is going on and may be asking or thinking the creators just laid on MORE for the sake of more. (My girlfriend who is not a fan like me was not bothered by this).

Comedically, the movie keeps up the quirkly humor from the first two and goes to extreme right around the middle of the movie. You will know when you see it - I didn't know what to think but I was grinning a stupid nerdy grin, I know that. I turned to my girlfriend and said "Well that was interesting" but I found myself laughing the whole way through. Sam Raimi has some cajones, let's just say that. It's like the light hearted carefree scene in Spiderman 2 times 10. In the same way that scene showed us how Peter Parker was carefree again after throwing away suit and foresaking being Spiderman, this scene shows us Peter Parker succumbing to a darker nature, in albeit a strange humorous way. It is not the only transformation we to Peter's dark side, luckily, or else it wouldn't work but if you can look past the goofiness it is pretty effective at showing his new attitude.

It would be fun to know how many takes they did this whole montage of Peter strutting around like a bad-ass who has no clue in the world (but doesn't care), thrusting his pelvis at women walking by, and improvising his own dance moves. Then when coming out of an upscale clothing score, dressed in a dapper all black suit pretty much saying "Fuck you - I'm Peter Parker/Spiderman and I don't take any shit from anyone".

Lastly, some random thoughts. Did I like Venom - yes although some of the effects around his mouth when talking were slightly weird but that is forgivable. Seeing the symbiote take over Eddie Brock was extremely well done and you truly felt like the two were one... I also don't want to make it seem like the movie is all action and empty plot everywhere else - a lot is going on in this movie - Peter is still struggling with his relationship, the origin of Sandman, Eddie Brock's nastiness and betrayal, some more wonderful scenes with J.K. Simmon as J. Jonah Jameson, etc.

As far as an ending the movie manages to tie everything up very nicely. There is still room for future series - I will leave that at that.

So some of the most excellent comic book action - (puts all other comic book movies to shame - alhtough some come close - and I am a huge X-Men fan as well), the same Spiderman humor and a fast paced script that really doesn't ever let go -although it feels a bit rushed and contrived at points == goes see the movie. Now. In Imax.

After the movie I was "interviewed" by KFOG radio and the lady asked me if you have to be a comic book fan to enjoy the movie. My reply was that if you cannot just enjoy this movie [watch the spectacle, laugh at the humor, and go along for the ride] then there is something wrong with you.

So stop reading this overly long blog post - go see it now.

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