Friday, May 04, 2007

Why I Kinda Pretty Much Completely Hated Spiderman 3

The headline is the short review. For the long review, I'm going head deep into spoiler territory, including a play by play of everything they did wrong in the climax. So, if you have any intention of ignoring my recommendation (which is going to see Hot Fuzz instead of this piece of crap), you might want to back out now.

I know that I'm making the movie sound completely awful, which is a little unfair. It does have a few good points. But the parts that are bad are so mind-numbingly awful that it complete ruins the experience. And that kind of blows my mind. This is basically the same cast and crew that made the two previous Spidey movies, which I love. And the new additions to the cast were actually the best parts. So how could they screw up this colossally?

Mainly poor writing. But also some poor acting and directing. This leads me to believe that the main cast and Sam Raimi (the director) are getting tired of the franchise. But even that doesn't excuse this movie, which goes way beyond the Batman Forever, X-Men 3 kind of comic book movie that is well intentioned, but made by people who just don't seem to "get" the source material, and into Batman and Robin, Superman IV territory, which is a profound disrespect for everything that came before. And I don't even mean that as a comic book geek, because I was never even into Spiderman that much. This movie is disrespectful of the first two films in a way that doesn't just disappoint, but angers me.

Now, what follows is a list of my most serious problems:

Mary Jane Watson Cannot Sing
Part of the conflict in the movie involve domestic issues between MJ and Peter Parker, stemming from the fact that early in the movie she is fired from a Broadway musical the night after her premier, because of scathing reviews of her singing. Ignoring the notion of "and they didn't catch that in rehearsal?" I proceed with the following question. If it is a plot point that Mary Jane is a bad singer, why does she sing two full songs on screen, and starts a third before being interrupted by problem #2. Only two things can happen. One, the actress playing the part, Kirsten Dunst, sings well and the audience is confused over why she was fired, or two, she sings poorly and the audience has to sit through 5 grating minutes of it. Well, Kirsten is either a bad singer or a very good actress, because either of her two performances would have gotten her reamed by Simon Cowell.

Emo Pete Doing Cabaret
After Spidey falls under the influence of the symbiotic alien that will become Venom, it supposedly enhances his energy and powers, but also dramatically increases his aggression. I'm cool with that. Except to demonstrate this fact, there was a 10 minute montage of Peter Parker wearing black with his hair combed down over his eyes (ooh, how edgy) dancing all over New York, winking and pointing at women. I really cannot do justice to how terrible this segment was. The sequence ends with him showing up at the Jazz Club where Mary Jane works now (oh, did I forgot to mention, even though she was a successful actress, singing is her true desire, even though she is terrible at it, so she is singing and waitressing at a Jazz Club) with a date and interrupts her song by jumping on the piano, ripping off a tune, and dancing on the bar. They play a scene where Peter is trying to emotionally hurt MJ for laughs, and it is just laughably bad.

Inappropriate Laughter
I don't know how much of this to blame on the audience I was with, the writers, or the speakers. But there were two separate occasions where people were crying on screen and people were laughing in the audience at how cheesy it was.

"What the Hell?"
Topher Grace was awesome as Eddie Brock, Peter Parker's chief rival at the Daily Bugle. Topher Grace was absolutely horrible as Venom, who Eddie Brock becomes after Spidey sheds the black suite. Hearing his voice come out of Venom's snarling toothy mouth was completely and utterly wrong.

Violating the Comic Code
Comic book movies in general have too big of a case of kill-the-villain-itus. Golden/Silver age heroes do not kill their opponents. They beat them, arrest them, and send them to jail or a mental asylum, from which they will inevitably escape and reign terror again. But that's just not enough closure for most Hollywood movies, so Joker dies at the end of the first Batman. Oh, sure, the hero usually doesn't kill them directly, but let them, through their own evil doings, meet a sudden end. But this movie takes it to the next level entirely. Spiderman was fighting Venom atop a skyscraper under construction when he realized that the symbiote is extremely sensitive to sound waves. He then begins beating hollow metal tubes to create a resonance that will force the symbiote off of Brock. He succeed, and manages to save Eddie. Spidey then throws one of Green Goblin's grenades (It was a complicated battle. Sandman was there too.) at the symbiote and Eddie JUMPS INTO THE EXPLOSION! To once again quote Eric Foreman, "What the HELL?!" They killed off one of the most interesting characters in the Spiderman mythos for no good reason.

With Great Power Comes Great Responsibility
And that brings me to my biggest problem. The one that pushes me from simply writing it off as a bad movie to being completely pissed off. They rewrote the history of the movie. It is revealed that before he became Sandman, Flint Marko was the one who really killed Peter's Uncle Ben. ?!? The lesson . . .the point . . . the REASON Spiderman exists is the fact that "with great power, comes great responsibility." Spiderman becomes a hero because he had a chance to stop the man who killed his beloved uncle, but chose not to, and therefore devoted his life to trying to correct his mistake. Except, he NEVER HAD THAT CHANCE! THE WHOLE FREAKING REASON THAT HE BECAME A SUPERHERO IS A LIE!!! And to make matters worse, it wasn't even murder. Marko was holding Ben up and the gun went off in his hand! And when Peter finds that out, he FORGIVES him, and LETS HIM GO!!! The man who had killed his uncle (even accidentally) and more recently had been robbing banks and causing general destruction as the Sandman, and Spiderman let him escape because he "really wasn't a bad guy, just had bad luck."

If you think I'm being too harsh, that it doesn't matter why he became a superhero, it just matters what he does with his powers, understand this: comic books are, at their heart, moral tales. It is important that Peter Parker learns a genuine lesson, to justify his life, and his existence. And to violate that, and simply to tie another character into the story no less, is wrong and offensive.

And it hurts me to be so mad at this movie, because there was a lot to like. The first half hour was awesome, with the first battle with Green Goblin II, Spidey stopping an out of control crane, and getting the key to the city. Thomas Hayden Church was great as Sandman (despite the revilations about his character), as was Topher Grace as Eddie Brock. But the movie hit a brick wall as soon as the Venom symbiote showed up, and became hokey, lame, and finally offensive. And the bad came to totally outweigh the good, and that just makes me sad and upset.