|Spiderman Three - The Review|
Ok, so a. this should be called “a” review, and b. everyone watch out, because this here contains SPOILERS. Actual ones! Which could ruin the film if you read them before you’ve seen it! If you care about such things, go and watch the film and then come back. Right. You’ve done that then. It was a bit rubbish, wasn’t it? That bit where he went emo was weird eh?
Ok, so a bit rubbish might sound harsh, but I mean it very literally - it was only abit rubbish. During my teenage years, I was a big fan of the Marvel universe in general and Spiderman in particular, and I thought that in general terms, Sam Raimi had done a fine job of the first 2 films. I wasn’t a massive fan of the first, because, essentially, it was an origin story, and also the Green Goblin scared me a bit, and Raimi’s horror background meant that he played to those scares…The second movie, though, I thought was absolutely terrific - the CGI had improved, and Alfred Molina makes a top quality bad dude.
Much of the pre-release anxiety surrounding Spidey 3 (amongst people who are inclined to be anxious about whether a movie is going to be good enough, anyway) was that it would suffer from the Batman and Robin bad guy overload that had put the Batman movie franchise into cold storage until Batman Begins. With the return of the Goblin, and the introduction of Venom and the Sandman, would the balance be lost and stories get short changed? Would Raimi be able to juggle the characters well enough to give them all sufficient screen time and depth?
For me, he only succeeded in doing that in part. The Sandman storyline was believable. (”Believable” - I mean, obviously he turned into a man made of sand, so it’s only so believable), but it had depth, emotional resonance - he was a Frankenstein’s monster type of villain - not really villainous, but driven to villainy. The CG was mostly terrific, although I thought there were some compositing problems during the scene where he gets blown into particles by the big machine thingy…(can you tell I don’t know about physics?) I’m a complete sucker for anything to do with the power of forgiveness (because the power of forgiveness is absolutely incredible) so the end, where Peter Parker forgave him for accidentally killing his uncle Ben, and in doing so set them both free brought actual human tears to my eyes. This may not be because it was a stunningly evocative piece of cinema, and actually just be because I’m a big wuss, but I think the cinema bit at least played a part.
On the other hand, the Venom stuff was all either a bit underplayed, or just a bit odd. When Parker bonds with the suit (Venom being a sludgey alien symbiote) it accentuates his ego and his aggression, and the movie takes a very odd turn. He gets a geek-chic haircut, a black suit and starts wearing eye-liner. Venom = emo. The walking down the street sequence is fairly funny, and the jazz club dance scene kind of works, but there’s something very odd about all that happening in the middle of a superhero film. Did anyone really enjoy that sequence? I’d be very interested to know, because I’m torn between wanting to stand up and applaud the audacity of it, and wanting to go “hang on, wasn’t that rubbish?”
And once Venom takes over Eddie Brock, it’s all over far too quickly - Venom in the comic books is one of Spidey’s most dangerous and difficult to face opponents - he knows him so well from having bonded to him (something which is alluded to in the movie, but never mentioned explicitly), and has all these alien uberpowers. But basically, he gets taken out in 25 minutes at the end. Which is because there are too many villains, too many plots, and it’s a bit hard to juggle them all.
There were some great bits, mind you - Bruce Campbell cameo - how can you make a film which is essentially about alter-egos and not include the director’s cinematic alter-ego? Some of the fight sequences were terrific, particularly the “not very much cgi” fight between Peter in the venom suit and Harry Goblin Jr. I did like the dance sequence in the jazz club, and the climactic battle was pretty cool (I’m also very partial to anything involving superheros teaming up and cracking wise) and as I said, anything about forgiveness just melts my heart, so I loved the Sandman storyline.
The thing is, ages ago, I read something in Empire where Raimi essentially said that he’s always absolutely loved Sandman as a villain, and never really cared about Venom at all, Venom being a modern villain, well after Raimi’s comic book reading prime. Venom’s introduction to the movie canon was superimposed by Marvel and the fan base. And that really does make the film make sense - the stuff that the director was passionate about resonates, and the stuff he was lukewarm about feels a bit lukewarm. It’s basically 50% a pretty good super hero movie, 10% a really great one, and 40% a little bit rubbish.
Half-Good: Spider-Man 3
A bafflingly bad conclusion to an otherwise stellar trilogy, Spider-Man 3 is definitely only half-good.
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