Thursday, May 03, 2007


RUNTIME: 139 min.
RATING: ***1/2

With great money and publicity comes great responsibility, responsibility to entertain and not to take the audiences for granted. To say that I was overexcited, to say that the only thing on my mind for the past two days was Spider Man would be an understatement. I am a huge fan of the earlier two movies; I saw the first one four times when it was released in the theatres and have lost count on how many times on DVD. Ditto for the second. The third installment is ten times the spectacle of its two predecessors; in fact it dwarfs the first installment. The romantic angle is much deeper than the second one; I guess these are the main reasons why most of us loved the first two movies. Well, I had a third, I loved the mythology. The two movies were an intelligent mixture of being funny and serious, but the superhero status of the character was always maintained, a superhero who would go to any lengths for the benefit of others, and of course for no selfish reasons. SPIDERMAN 2 got that spectacularly well and my personal favorite among all the superhero movies ever made, BATMAN BEGINS got that the best. But here, to my utter disappointment, every damn thing is personal. Spiderman here is not the superhero we know of, he is just a guy doing everything for his own self. I hate to admit that I hated it, absolutely hated it and that was the last thing I expected the movie to falter on. Watching the movie, I was reminded of two other movies, STAR WARS: RETURN OF THE JEDI and THE GODFATHER III. When compared to other superhero franchisees excluding of course BATMAN BEGINS (one of the greatest movies ever seen by your’s truly, at least a 100 times), SPIDERMAN 3 stands head and shoulders above. But we never were comparing it to other movies, were we? THE GODFATHER III ought to be compared to its two illustrious predecessors and although it is a solid motion picture, it comes across as considerably weak against them. I guess the same would stand for SPIDERMAN 3. And as for watching it again, I am not exactly over the moon right now.
SPIDERMAN 3 finds Spiderman still living in the ragged apartment, still trying to find a way to propose MJ. But he has to contend with Harry Osborne (James Franco), who is now as Spidey puts it Green Goblin Jr. They fight each other wildly, during which Harry suffers an accident, temporarily affecting his memory. He loses the entire grudge he had against Peter and Spiderman and remembers only the good times. Meanwhile, MJ’s acting career isn’t exactly setting the world on fire and she’s fired out of her job. She gets a tad envious of Spiderman who is loved by the entire length and breadth of NYC, their love life going for a toss all the time. Meanwhile Peter and Aunt May Parker come to know from the cops that Uncle Ben Parker was actually killed by an escaped convict Flint Marko (Thomas Haden Church, SIDEWAYS). While running from the cops, Marko gets into a physical test laboratory and accidentally turns into Sandman. Then there is Peter’s rival at his job, no not crime fighting but taking Spidey’s snaps, Eddie Brock (Topher Grace, IN THE COMPANY, THE 70s SHOW). Amongst all this, a strange organism from outer planet comes to earth and grabs hold of Spiderman, an organism that is symbiotic in nature and that intensifies the inner strengths of the person hosting it (well for all those who haven’t read the comic books and who don’t know what the black suit is all about, this is the explanation). Your good friend from the neighborhood Spiderman becomes a bit dark, a tad evil (Imagine Peter Parker becoming BATMAN. Well that would be bad, because Bruce Wayne is the only one who can handle Batman.) Spiderman has to battle all of it and win Mary Jane all over again.
Well, my first grudge is the romantic angle. It needlessly drags the movie; the love story actually seems forced. I for one thought that the romantic angle has been done away with and it is now for bigger things, one less thing for Spiderman to worry about. But SPIDERMAN 3 is all about the romantic angle between MJ and Peter and believe it or not, it is a love quadrangle. There’s Harry Osborne and the most trivial entry, the biggest blunder of SPIDERMAN 3, Gwen Stacy (Bryce Dallas Howard). I know of no reason why the character was even needed when there was enough on the plate already (If you get one, please feel free to put down a comment). The love is tiring, it isn’t remotely as romantic as either of the earlier movies; the earlier movies were just incredible in that department. But here it is dull, it is uninspiring, it is bloated and frankly it bored me to death. The only thing going for it are the performances, which manage to keep it afloat. Any lesser actors and the whole thing would have tumbled down.
As a result of that, the pacing and the psychology of the movie is as inconsistent as they get. At times, SPIDERMAN 3 is pure magic, especially the sequences involving Spiderman/Peter Parker and Eddie Brock. Topher Grace is just fantastically wonderful and his is the best performance of the movie. The actions sequences, the ingredients that have the responsibility to give Sony its huge sum back are wonderful, to say the least. I wouldn’t divulge anything about it but the last fight, Spiderman and three villains- Goblin, Sandman and Venom is one of the finest moments in superhero movie history and that includes the climax of BATMAN BEGINS. It is arguably the closest thing to comic books fun ever put on celluloid. The three-villain strategy could so easily have gone into BATMAN AND ROBIN territory (arguably the worst movie of all time), but Sam Raimi does a fantastic job to make it the movie’s strongest moment.
But between all these highs the lows stick out and stick out very sorely. The film had great potential to develop Sandman and Venom but it seems all that was sacrificed for a pitiful love story; it honestly is a shame. The motivations that drive Sandman and Venom are downright silly and that is one another thing I never expected the movie to falter on. I seriously was hoping to find venom in the thick of things before the improvised intermission, well he enters late and a gross injustice has been meted out to that character. And about Sandman, all I can wonder is what would have James Cameron, who created one of cinema’s most iconic character in T-1000, done with him.
The biggest problem is the script. Everything seemed so real in SPIDERMAN and SPIDERMAN 2. Here it is all silly and the characters are thinner than paper; Venom and Sandman are instruments to bring effects into the movie and have no business in the movie other than that. That is a shame from a franchisee where Green Goblin was so strongly characterized and Doc Ock was simply out of the park. All this when Venom is such a strong character. SPDIERMAN 3 feels more like your usual summer action blockbuster, watch it for action and get the hell out of there, it isn’t worth your attention. One thing that SPIDERMAN 2 and BATMAN BEGINS taught the superhero franchisee is that there’s no compromise on weak characters. SUPERMAN RETURNS failed because everything was so black and white. SPDIERMAN 3 is exactly like SUPERMAN RETURNS, dull, bloated but interspersed with absolute moments of magic.
What were Bryce Dallas Howard and James Cromwell doing there by the way? Absolutely wasted, both of them.
The ending is a pathetic, to put it best. I just don’t get it as to why everybody concerned is considering this as a trilogy when it is supposed to be a franchisee. I mean, there is deliberate winding up done at the end, a la LORD OF THE RINGS: RETURN OF THE KING. It absolutely bets the hell out of any hope that the movie would end on a high note. A point to be noted for all people out there making a series; end it on a high note. When MJ says, “Go get’em Tiger in SPIDERMAN 2, it brought a million goose bumps on me. When Gordon shows the deck of cards to Batman in BATMAN BEGINS there were whistles all round the theater. And when Gordon says,” I never said…Thank you” and Batman turns and replies,” And you never will have to” and Hans Zimmer’s score goes into a crescendo, everyone got up and clapped. That is what is going to put bums on the seat the next time around. But Sam Raimi doesn’t seem to be too keen on extending the franchisee, well to hell with that. Sony would find a new director, who could do a better job. I just hated the way they ended it. SPIDERMAN 3 isn’t bad and neither is it great. It is just in between, much like SUPERMAN RETURNS. It surely will earn a record breaking initial and will make in excess of $250 million. But I seriously doubt whether Spiderman fans will fondly remember it. I’m writing my review at this time of the night and I have already received questions about how the movie is, from excited friends who’re as big Spiderman fans as me. When I told them my reaction, they were supremely disappointed, but still going to watch it. good reviews or bad reviews, everyone is going to watch SPIDERMAN 3, but let this review of mine lower your expectations so that you like it a wee bit more.


Anonymous said...

Wow. You took the words right out of my mouth. Only made it more eloquent. Spider-Man 3 was a major disappointment and you were spot-on on each mistake i thought they made with it.

Anonymous said...

Your review did help in lowering the expectations and hence I liked the movie.
Even in 2 ndmovie love angle was there , so it was there in 3rd.
Why make an issue of it?
Agreed it is slightly extended but it's ok.
By the way I don't understand what other great things he will do.The movie is on the same line of 2nd(love at heart , action as showpiece...and if you are expecting something more then look at some other place.
As it is no pathbreaking movie , 4 is I guess the right rating.

Anonymous said...

Hey there,
Nice review.. I think im going to see this movie for sure…!