Saturday, May 5, 2007

1 + 2 = Spidey 3

So I saw Spiderman 3 last night with my son and about an hour and 15 minutes in, my son started asking how much time was left in the movie. That's when I knew we were in trouble.

I can't say I really liked or really hated it. What I will say is that I think the franchise should be over. I'm sure that will fall on the deaf ears of Sony because after this weekend, those ears will be crammed with money, but no matter the gross, I think that Spiderman is done. Or at least should be done if they want to end it on a good note.

I left the theater with nothing new from this one. I know the characters. I know what Spiderman can and can't do. The only thing new is the villain and how Spiderman defeats him (and it's obvious they're getting desperate in that department since Spiderman was faced with not one but three villains). It's like watching Friday The 13th to see what new and different gardening tool Jason is going to kill somebody with. After awhile it gets old. And to me, a movie that might just be the most expensive movie ever made should maybe deliver a little more.

Despite that, there were a couple of things in particular that I do want to point out about the film. First, there's no doubt that Raimi is a masterful director. I thought for sure this movie was going to suck because there was so much going on: the Sandman, the Hobgoblin, Venom, and a possible marriage proposal. But I will say that Raimi handled it very well. And he still made time for a couple of touching moments.

The other thing I will say is that now looking back at the trilogy, it's very interesting how Raimi handled all three films. Each one has it's own personality as Damian and I recently spoke about in the comments here. Spiderman 1 is more Raimi like. It's more campy and not on an epic scale. To me, it was like Raimi was struggling a bit. Trying to inject a little Darkman into the franchise. The problem with the first was that when it comes to camp you have to either go all the way or at least find a really good balance to it. It felt too random and as a result any real drama was lost.

Spiderman 2 on the other hand felt very epic and I would say the least Raimi-like movie of the trilogy (which I guess is disturbing to say since it is my favorite yet I'm a big fan of Raimi). Spiderman 2 seemed to be a little more socially conscious. It felt like a movie made right after 9/11 then a few years after. The scene where Spidey stops the train from going off the tracks and then is carried by the passengers to a resting place is the best evidence of this. It was a surprisingly touching scene as we see the super-hero get saved by the people he is supposed to be saving.

In Spiderman 3 it felt like Raimi was finally at peace. It's here that he has found a good balance between camp and reality. Everything felt more surreal in this movie and this is none more evident than when the dark suit begins to take over. The hair brushed in front of the eyes, the black eye-liner and the collar pushed up is complete camp. I've read reviews where people said they were embarrassed by these scenes, but it's so obvious that Raimi intended these scenes to be over the top. Especially in the Jazz Club where Peter Parker first plays piano and then dances throughout the club. The only thing missing would have been if he began to smoke. But in looking at the three I would say it feels like Raimi had the most fun on this one.

So it's strange and a bit unnerving to me that while I think that Raimi is at the top of his game as a director, it's for a movie that I didn't think much of. But I'm not sure that's his fault. There's so much pressure for this franchise to be a success that I wonder how much control Raimi actually has over the story. Because while I think he handled the material well, I don't much like the material that he had to work with. Regardless, as a Raimi fan I would like to see him wave goodbye to this franchise and move on to more Raimi-like movies. Perhaps Crimewave 2?

And for the record, I will take Bryce Dallas Howard over Kirsten Dunst any and every day of the week.


Ray said...

Wll Piper, I don't know if I can agree with you entirely.

I am a huge Raimi fan - have been since I saw "Evil Dead" so long ago. There are definitely Raimi touches in this film; some of them work, and some definitely do not.

But I will say this: you're review/opinion here is wrong when you say that Raimi is not to blame for much of the faults of this movie. He most certainly is.

The script for the film is one of the stupidest, most shockingly bad major Hollywood script I have ever seen brought to the screen. AWFUL SCRIPT. It is as lazy and nonsensical and downright indulgent as anything churned out by a first year screenwriting student - in first grade. The script is Raimi's fault, since he wrote it with his brother.

The direction is fine in places, particularly the action sequences. I didn't have a problem with the dance number/evil Spidey sequence from a directorial point of view, since it was well directed - it simply didn't belong in this film, where it fatally distracts from the momentum of the film. A director should know when to let go of certian things that ruin the movie. So, that is Raimi's fault also.

And finally, it is Raimi's fault that the Mary Jane/Parker "90210" thing goes on FOREVER and is too damn long. Anybody worth their weight in salt should know that paying ten bucks to sit in a theater for 2.5 hours and watch two kids play phone tag is NOT interesting, even if it was a Merchant Ivory production. So that is Raimi's fault as well.

He needs to do something entirely different - he really hurt his credibility as a professional director on this one.

Sheamus the... said...

PIPER...i think i am on the same page as you.

Piper said...


I think it a bit extreme to say that this script is one of the stupidest you have ever seen. I can think of hundreds to come before it.

I completely agree with you that the 90210 stuff was stupid and I would say in my opinion, that would be the weakest part of the script.

And I agree with you that Raimi desperately needs to do something new.

Ray said...

I said it was one of the most shockingly bad MAJOR HOLLYWOOD scripts I have ever seen brought to the screen.

It's shocking how many times the script violates Screenwriting 101 principles. Simple, basic things like MOTIVATION, or PROTAGONIST/ANTAGONIST relationships, are simply thrown out the window.

I mean, you can actually see and feel the places in the script where things were haphazardly thrown into it in order to make the ending work. And it still doesn't.

I haven't seen anything this sloppy and obvious from RAimi since the awful "giving Linda the ugly necklace" crap from "Evid Dead I." Fortunately, that movie was much more inventive and well constructed than this horrid, retarded shitpile.

Burbanked said...

I haven't seen SM3 yet, so I won't comment on Ray's lovably blunt opinion here. But hold on, Ray - I'm certain that Transformers will provide you with a more idiotic and incomprehensible screenplay than SM3.

But Piper, I found SM2 to be WAY more Raimi-esque than SM in many of the visual tricks used. There are Evil Dead references, copious first-person zoomy effects, clever dissolves and more.

I found SM - while tons of fun - to be fairly straightforward movie-making with very little edge to it (although I do think the bit where the Green Goblin detonates a pumpkin bomb and we see people incinerated to their skeletons is a bit subversive for a PG13). SM2 feels much more clever in the way that it's shot, edited and put together - which to me is largely why it's viewed as the crown jewel of the franchise and represents Raimi at his best.

Piper said...

Burbanked, you're absolutely right on the visual tricks. Less in tone and more in the way he uses the camera. I think of the scene where Raimi shoots the claws POV as they go through the hospital room. Very Raimi.

Tony Tanti said...

Interesting idea, that it might be a well directed movie but not amazingly well made in other ways. I think I might be able to agree with that to some degree.

I liked 1 and 2 and loathed 3 but #3 still had all the good visuals, it was the writing that fell flat for me. I think Raimi should stick to directing.