Cross-Media v.2: Spider-Man 3 movie review

5 05 2007

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There’s two things that every objective critic has to take into account when reviewing a movie like Spider-Man 3: hype and franchise standards. This could be said for almost all film trilogies. Indiana Jones and Die Hard are two trilogies with over-hyped second films that flopped—though their short comings had more to do with the quality of the films rather than audience expectations. It’s not often that the last film in a trilogy is the worst one, but that’s unfortunately where Spider-Man 3 ranks in this franchise. That’s not to say that SP3 is a bad movie, really. In fact, despite its (many) problems, it’s still one of the best super hero movies to date, if only for its amazing action sequences. However, SP3 suffers from some glaring issues made more infuriating by the fact that they’re completely elementary.

To put it simply, SP3’s main problem is lazy writing—the kind that gets gradually worse to the point of being unforgivable. As with most sequels, SP3falls into the trap that develops when the creators of a franchise believe that they can get away with far-too-convenient plot devices and exaggerated moments of cheese based on the fact that the audience loved their last effort. However, this logic actually ends up hurting them in the end because, compared to its predecessor(s), SP3 is tragic. The problem isn’t that the writing strays from comic book cannon—you can never expect 100% accuracy—but rather that, like X3: X-Men United, it strays from the cannon established for the film franchise. Many of the characters are annoyingly inconsistent in their actions—especially Sandman—and almost every conflict in this tale ties up so neatly that you feel kind of cheap for watching it. There’s one scene near the end that is so convenient, so awkward, so artificial, you spend the rest of the movie trying to rationalize to yourself why the hell you just saw that.

All of this is made more heartbreaking by the fact that these moments of literary indolence are layered between the moments of sheer glory that no Spider-Man film can be without. While the writing may not be consistently sharp, the acting sure as hell is. Everyone is on their game here, and props must be given to Topher Grace, who probably had the most pressure on him going into this, considering he plays arguable the most popular villain in Spider-Man history. Despite the lack of bulk, Grace is a perfect Eddie Brock, and a pretty damn good Venom. While Bryce Dallas Howard plays Gwen Stacy bit hammier than was necessary, but she’s far too hot for anyone to care, and serves her purpose well. However, the most memorable moments are the Stan Lee and Bruce Campbell cameos, which are both pretty unforgettable.

 The action sequences are also as good as ever, especially in the climax. Venom looks and moves just how any fan would picture him, despite the man behind the mask. In fact, everyone looks picture perfect from the comic books. The problem, with venom for example, isn’t how these character look or fight, but rather how they are presented. It’s no secret that Sam Raimi hates Venom as a character. This is made obvious by the fact that, while he understood the characters purpose—to be the anti-spider man and therefore unkillable—he was either too lazy or just didn’t care enough to implement him effectively. The same goes for Sandman, so much so that if you spend any amount of time thinking about it, you would realise that the climax of the film had no logical reason for occurring.

It’s an odd comparison, but the Spider-Man franchise sort of reminds me of The Godfather trilogy—stay with me here. In both cases, the first film was groundbreaking, but you could see that there was room for improvement. Instead of getting lazy for the sequel, they improved, making SP2 arguabley the best super hero film ever, just as Godfather IIis arguably the best mafia movie ever. Unfortunately for both series, the third movie just doesn’t make the cut, feeling more like a ghost of its former self. And while both films are definitely worth watching, you end up longing for the good old days instead of looking to the future. And while this isn’t the end for our web-slinging hero, the neighbourhood may not be so friendly next time.

kefka.gif — Persopolian

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