Saturday, May 05, 2007

SPIDERMAN 3 - in which Spidey jumps the shark

SPIDERMAN 3 was a big event in Bina-world. I'd arranged a posse of like-minded individuals to go see it at the big fat Odeon in Leicester Square. There's nothing like a packed house of fans cheering the opening credits and laughing at all the gags - it's popcorn entertainment at its best.

The opening hour was fine. Peter Parker was back, even more nerdy that usual and a little self-satisfied at Spidey's popularity among New Yorkers. Sure, his best mate Harry wasn't speaking to him, believing Spidey had killed his dad. And his girlfriend Mary-Jane was getting panned by critics in her new Broadway show. Oh, and there was that annoying photographer, Eddie Brock, trying to muscle in on a staff job at the Daily Bugle. But basically, Peter was okay, the film zipped along happily and the higher quota of comedy was fun. In particular, there was some broad physical comedy in a restaurent scene where Peter attempts to propose to MJ.

But around half way through bad things happen. And I'm not just talking about the meteoric slime that attaches itself to Spidey and brings out his aggressive nature. Sam Raimi - a man whose judgement has previously been impeccable, simply lets Spidey jump the shark.

By which I mean that the ueber-confident "black" Peter Parker strutts down the street spoofing Saturday Night Fever. Raimi makes Spidey look bad-ass by making him wear his fringe forward and givin him black eyeliner! He dances with Gwen Stacey in a jazz club spoofing Jim Carrey in The Mask. The humour is broad and it really works. I laughed myself silly. But I was laughing AT the movie, and worst of all, I think Raimi et al were laughing at the movie too. They were sending the Spidey iconography up. Going for cheap laughs also totally destroyed the emotional credibility of the franchise. By the time we'd been through Tobey Maguire's moody teenager impression I was in no mood to hear him pontificate about moral choices and forgiveness, and I certainly wasn't emotionally invested in the movie's ending. An ending which, by the way, rivals LORD OF THE RINGS for its inability to pull down the curtain.

So, SPIDERMAN 3 still has all the cool CGI stunts, and some decent turns from Kirsten Dunst, J K Simmons and Bruce Campbell. Thomas Haden Church is perfectly cast as the Sandman - he has such sympathetic eyes you can't help feeling for him. There's also a woefully brief cameo role from Topher Grace as Venom. Venom is such a great character - a complete bastard - and Topher Grace gave such a fantastic performance that he should have had more screen-time or a movie where he was the only villain. Tobey Maguire proves he can play comedy. I just wished he hadn't proved it in this film. And I remain unconvinced about James Franco's ability to pull off a serious dramatic role.

Overall, I was highly disappointed. As were Nikolai, Movie Matt, Richard and Alan, who'd come all the way down from Edinburgh for this, the first Yippee-Kay-Yay Meet Up. (Although Matt thought it would be a fun night out for kids.) Swedish Philip also gave it the thumbs down. He makes the brilliant point that he expected Spidey 3 to be the most dark and psychologically penetrating given that it featured the Black Spidey. He was expecting the mood to be more BATMAN BEGINS than Broadway Musical. Swedish Lizzie thought it was "utter crap" (although she's so generally amiable and looked so happy I mistakenly thought she liked it). Ken and Graham thought it was okay (see comment below), John kind of enjoyed it, but John thought it ripped off SUPERMAN too much. (I agree. Over-wrought religious imagery up the wazoo, let alone a ridiculously cheesy shot of Spidey in front of the Star-Spangled Banner.) Rav liked it but thought it ripped off THE MASK and Stoogy actually thought it was better for the first one! So out of 12 "votes", we have 7 Nays and 5 ayes.

SPIDERMAN 3 is on global release.


  1. This film failed on almost every single count. It lost any credibility as a Marvel comic or action movie when Spidey turned into a downmarket Jarvis Cocker and pulling his cheesy dance moves on the street - and it never had any credibility as a comedy in the first place (although it was, at times, unintentionally funny, like the guy praying in church).

    When it tried to pull it all together at the end, with spidey swinging in in front of a huge US flag, pausing in front of it for a split second for effect, it just fell apart. Not big. Not funny. Avoid like a plague. And extremely disappointing given the last 2 films.


  2. BTW - Swedish Lizzie corrects you - she thought it was "utter crap". Those were her words.

  3. I thought it was decent. Not as good as the other two certainly, but in terms of action, humour, sfx it was more of the same. I enjoyed it in general, though as you say there were a few unintentionally funny bits, and the american flag bit was completely unnecessary. But as I always tell Matt, I'm well aware that I have fairly low standards when watching films. I don't care, I'm much more likely to enjoy things that way!

    Graham xxx

  4. ps Couple other things to add that I just thought of. The reason it was so long was obviously that they fell into the Batman & Robin trap of having way too many villains and therefore too much to fit in. The Harry/Goblin bit had to be resolved, and there needs to be a villain to fight as dark spider-man and as well as venom once they separate, but that could have been in two separate films. I think venom should have waited til the next film, if there is another one. Ok second thing, Bruce Campbell's scene was once again a stroke of genius, can that man do no wrong?!

  5. Hi guys - I've duly corrected my representation of Lizzie and Graham's views. Graham - I agree with both your points. There were way too many villains and Venom was so important in the comic books he should have had his own film. Then you could have the Harry/Sandman storylines - which are both about forgiveness.

    And as for Bruce Campbell - the guy is a badass. I'm not saying that a Pink Panther remake should EVER have happened - but Campbell would've been acres better than Steve Martin....

  6. i agree with graham-messy,but decent.

    not that bad tho-considering the other comic-book films we've had.

    & for me,the superb se alone made the flaws seem passable.

  7. Hi Al, glad you enjoyed it. Granted Raimi does cool SFX. But given Spidey 1 I expected so much more......

    In other news: 'Spider-Man 3' Is "Silly," Says Lucas

    George Lucas has joined the major newspaper critics in their negative appraisal of Spider-Man 3. In an interview with's Roger Friedman, Lucas said, "It's a silly movie. ... There just isn't much there. Once you take it all apart, there's not much story, is there?"

    Granted, Lucas' credibility is a little battered since the latest trilogy, but still, it's funny to see an auteur get down to brass tacks. Silly sums it up.