Sony has a track record of making very good products with “2” in the title but then having the “3”‘s be subject to critical lashing. The trend continues with Spider-Man 3, which is storming into theatres this weekend. What did I think of it, myself being a person who considers Spider-Man 2 the best comic book hero movie ever and Batman Begins good but quite overrated? Read on!
Going into this I figured it would be at least decent since they had made a great sequel with “2” and if they were going to screw it up they would have done it there. On that note I also fully expected it to be worse than the first 2 movies, but this would still make it better than most crap in theatres. The scene in “2” where his aunt insists he takes a 20 dollar bill and then cries about it is more human and identifiable than anything in the “rich angst boy fights crime with crappy closeup camerawork” fest that was the grossly overrated Batman Begins. Just the fact that Kirsten Dunst, weird teeth and all, is actually a character with a tangible link to the hero versus Mrs Tom Cruise showing up in “Begins” as “the woman” and basically nothing else is proof positive that Raimi and Co. are the kings of this genre.
Then came the reviews of “3”. Barely fresh on Rotten Tomatoes, and decidedly mixed overall. This led me to believe it could actually suck balls or turn into a Batman Forever / and Robin.
With my expectations lowered (perhaps Sony paid the critics to do this?) the movie actually turned out a bit better than I had feared/hoped. I’ll touch on the major criticisms first:
1) Underdeveloped villains – This is indeed a problem. Doc Ock from “2” was terrific, William Dafoe from “1” dressed as a Power Ranger but his motivations were sound. In “3” the villains just kind of show up and start trouble. It’s not bad, but a setback from the first 2 movies. Green Goblin 2 doesn’t really count as a villain because he’s barely in the movie. I did like what they did with his character though. The effects on Sandman are cool and his “forming” scene is very sad and classic Raimi (though he doesn’t yell “JULIEEEEEE!!!”).
2) Song and dance and “kitchen twist and shout omelet scene”. Not really that long and it’s fairly believable. If critics can praise 15 f’ing minutes of woman sitting around talking about BS in “Death Proof” I don’t see why 2 minutes in a kitchen is a deal-breaker for “3”. News flash – Raimi pisses on Tarantino – there I said it.
3) Peter Parker Turns Emo – As Spider-Man 2 was like Superman 2 this one definately has some Superman 3 vibes going on, noteably Spider-Man/Parker turning “evil”. But I found it funny, and you have to realize it’s the evil “Venom” stuff, not Peter Parker, doing these terrible things. His “I am a sex magnet badass” sequence in this is no more cheesy than the “Raindrops keep falling on my head” sequence from “2”.
Other than that, not too shabby. I think critics give this one a hard time since “1” and especially “2” were so good… Along those same lines critics praised Batman Begins and to some extent Rocky 6 (Balboa) highly possibly because their previous entries were so bad. When you hit rock bottom (Batman and Robin) you can only go up, when you hit the heavens (Spider-Man 2) you can only go down.
The crowd in the theatre seemed to dig it, afterwards I heard a few people even saying “that was better than the second one”. Of course they are wrong, but still, it goes to show that what a critic likes is far and away and 50 leagues from what the general public will like. (See Wild Hogs, Pirates 2, any comedy…) If you’re not a critic snob or film geek and just like movies for what they are, you probably won’t have any major issues with Spider-Man 3. Of course I thought X-Men 3 was totally decent and Fantasic Four was watchable so what do I know?
Some highlights before I close out this entry:
1) Bill Paxton’s dad, who played the butler, gets much more screentime in this film, including some closeups!
2) James Cromwell, who should of won an Oscar in 1996 dammit, appears for about 12 seconds in this movie. But they are 12 quality seconds by gum!
3) The Russian landlord and daughter are back! And once again he says “Rent!”. The scene with the cookies and “Evil Emo Parker” is also quite funny.
4) The movie didn’t seem as long as people had made it out to be.
Don’t worry folks, we’ve got Spider-Man 4 to look forward to. Now that’s a movie that will truly suck – even worse than Die Hard 4 will.