June 5, 2007

Spider-Man 3

The most expensive movie ever made is a fantastic, gripping, emotional thrill ride...buried in a overlong and needlessly cluttered 140 minute movie. If the first two movies weren't so good, I would not be holding this movie to such a high standard. Once again, the core relationships between Peter, MJ, and Harry are thoughtfully portrayed by Tobey Maguire, Kirsten Dunst, and James Franco. The love triangle they were given to portray smelled a little soapy to me, but I really felt strong connections between the characters.
Why do moviemakers feel the need to pile on an excessive number of villains in movie sequels? I first noticed this phenomenon in Batman Returns (do we really need Catwoman and The Penguin?) Now Spider-Man 3 includes Sandman and Venom and Harry "Green Goblin, Jr" Osborn. The movie would have made more sense, been much better, and a half hour shorter, if they'd saved Sandman for Episode 4, and expanded the Venom character. As it is, they had to contort the realm of possibility to fit them in: they had to rewrite Uncle Ben's murder to fit Sandman in, and sprain my suspension of disbelief to fit in Venom.
How unlikely are these new relationships? It turns out that Ben wasn't shot by that carjacker with the bad haircut after all, it was petty thief Flint Marko (Thomas Haden Church), who's now escaped from Rikers. Meanwhile, rival photojournalist Eddie Brock (the criminally underused and underrated Topher Grace) is dating Gwen Stacy (Bryce Dallas Howard, with blonde hair, new boobs, and unreal blue eyes, looking weirder than ever), who's one of Peter's fellow physics students, who also happens to be a model in her spare time. Stacy is doing a photoshoot on top of a photocopier(?) high up in an office building (??) when she is saved from certain death in a runaway crane accident by Spider-Man. Did I mention her father is the chief of police, who is hunting Flint Marko? Seven million New Yorkers, and these five people are all connected.
Meanwhile, Peter Parker discovers that it feels good to be bad, when his suit is infected with a malicious oily goo which removes all inhibition and sets free your dark id. I am tempted to complain how ludicrous the arrival of this goo is, but it's not wise to question superpower origin stories, because none of them make any sense. When Parker wears his new black suit, he starts strutting like Tony Manero, letting his hair flop over like he's in The Killers, and picking fights with his rivals. This is a fine metaphor for his conflicted feelings about his super-heroic duties, much like his semi-retirement in Spider-Man 2. It's shocking and satisfying to see Spider-Man pick a fight with Harry Osborn, as we have only seen Spidey fight defensively for most of the trilogy.
The first two Spider-Man movies get an A minus and A grades, respectively, and this third installment gets an A minus grade, because I don't have the stomach to give out a B plus to a movie costing $300,000,000.

Theater Notes

Emily and I invited the whole gang for what we hoped would be the best movie of the summer. We were thrilled at the turnout- our guest list included Jon & Bobbi, Jed and Seneca & Chris, Amy & Adam, Angus, and Phil. At $10 per ticket, that's $110 in tickets from our group. Spider-Man 3 grossed over $148,000,000 over the opening weekend (the largest weekend gross since the last Pirates movie), which means our little group contributed .00007 percent of the receipts. (Regal Fenway Stadium 13)
Yes Peter, this is the same bridge from Highlander.

Stray Observations 2013

Six years later we watched most of the middle of the movie on TV:
  • When Harry finally awakes from his amnesia and becomes evil again, he forces Mary Jane to break up with Peter. She meets Peter in the middle of Bow Bridge in Central Park, the same rendezvous spot Connor MacLeod chose to meet up with Sunda Kastagir in Highlander (1986)!
  • A favored meeting spot for superhumans.
  • James Franco looks really weird with no facial hair. He's one of those actors who stops shaving the moment they stop filming (along with Jon Hamm, Leonardo DiCaprio, and Johnny Depp)
Clean Shaven James Franco