Fri 4 May 2007
When Kirsten asked him to complete the phrase “just about anyone”, Tobey instantly thought, “is a better actress than you”.
The juggernaut that is “Spider-Man 3″ has finally arrived and I’m quasi-amused at the idea of reviewing the film. This is exactly the type of film that is critic proof. I could say this was the most worthless piece of crap ever made and I doubt anyone reading this who’s a fan of the series would actually abstain from heading to the theater anyway.
However, I’m not going to say “Spider-Man 3″ is a worthless piece of crap … but it’s not something I would have been too sorry to miss if I weren’t such a nerd. I read comic books, and specifically Marvel Comic books, for five or six years when I was a kid. I’ve already seen my favorite franchise, the X-Men, sullied and altered over the course of its trilogy. “Ghost Rider” and “Fantastic Four” were jokes (that have made enough money to get sequels rammed down our gullets soon enough) and “Hulk” might have been a good film … if you used an entirely new script.
The first installment of “Spider-Man”, however, was a pretty good film. It handled the origin of the character well and the physics of web-swinging are fun to watch. Kirsten Dunst as Mary Jane Watson is not. She has been the bane of the series from day one, with her hilariously bad and melodramatic acting. Anyone who says they didn’t laugh during her performance in the play within “Spider-Man 2″ is a damn liar.
In “Spider-Man 3″, the audience is “treated” to her coming right out in a Broadway musical … yes, you have to endure watching Dunst sing … I can feel the vomit coming back up … I’m gonna need a minute … okay, that’s better. In an interview she made with wildaboutmovies.com, she said she prerecorded her portions and lip-synched during filming. Seeing as I thought someone else sang the songs entirely, I can see that. Dunst can’t even lip-sync right. Geez.
And to no one’s surprise, her performance in this film is just as bad (and funny) as the other films. Every time she tears up, I’m busting a gut … some kind of disconnect going on there. The main man though is Tobey Maguire and he has done a good job with the role up to this film. However, while I would give him the passing grade for much of this film, the storyline does involve the black symbiotic suit and how it amplifies the wearer’s emotions.
As such, I could almost re-title the film, “Spider-Man 3: Male Gigolo”. To accomplish the “bad boy” Peter Parker, Tobey restyles his hair to fall towards his eyes and makes wildly unsexy gestures at any point and time. This wasn’t so much “bad boy” as “ridiculous high school social outcast”. Scenes of him walking down the street while beautiful women stop and stare made me roar with laughter since I took it to mean they thought he was the weirdest guy they had seen all day. I think the film is trying to convey he’s a ladies man when helped by the suit to exhibit confidence but it does not play that way.
This leads to one of the worst scenes in this film (and series) as Peter Parker tries to make Mary Jane jealous by dancing with another woman. I can’t quite describe the craptitude of the scene (or his dancing) but it is so insincere and unbelievable that I was hoping the film would break there or that I had a fast forward button. It’s just stupid and unnecessary for a film that’s already almost two and half hours.
Rounding out the less than stellar performances is Topher Grace as Eddie Brock. Putting aside my inner comic book geek that knows the character was a bodybuilder (which we can all agree Grace is not), Topher’s performance was a little too snarky for me. He’s slimy instead of arrogant and that didn’t work for me. Also, there were times when the CGI involved with his character reminded me of the superimposed Martha Stewart head on the dog in “Big Trouble”. But I digress.
Before I move on to the other elements, I will complement one actor in the film, Thomas Hayden Church, who plays the Sandman. His character was fairly compelling and although I can’t remember if his origin is all messed up, it’s believable within the context of the film (as is Venom’s although it’s not the original origin story).
Just about the only time I really enjoyed this film past the so-so level was when Sandman was around. I liked his CGI and Church’s performance. I have issues with his ability to travel 20 stories up as a sandstorm since it looked a bit like special effects from “Ghostbusters” but if that’s the worst I can knock him for, I guess they’re doing something right. This brings me to the special effects and they’re on par with the last two films. There are still some issues with Venom’s look and movements but overall they were pretty good. The web-swinging is still cool and the rest is what you’d expect from a summer blockbuster.
Oops, I almost forgot to mention James Franco. As friends of mine already know, I laughed my ass off in regards to his performance in “Spider-Man 2″. I can’t readily remember one scene in that film where he’s not crying or about to cry. (I smell a drinking game.)
I was hoping for the same in this film so I could keep laughing but to his credit, he’s only crying about a third of the time. I was absolutely not interested in seeing his storyline again but it was at least better than the Parker-Watson romantic disaster. What does this all add up to? Well, I would give “Spider-Man 3″ a 1 out of 5 if it weren’t for two things.
One, my expectations for big popcorn flicks is lower because they rarely are very good. And two, Bruce Campbell is the man. His cameo in this installment is hilarious and easily the best scene in the film. I don’t want to spoil what it is but he steals the scene right out from underneath Maguire and Dunst. (This is worth sneaking into the show for.)
Unsurprisingly, “Spider-Man 3″ barely manages to swing a 2 out of 5 from me. It’s about what I expected but I think it could have been done better without so much of the cheesy melodrama, unresolved plot points and blah blah blah. Oh, you read that? Really? I’m touched you aren’t already in line for the film. I don’t expect this review to sway any of you Spidey-fans out there to skip it and while I wouldn’t stand in line or pay full-price for it, there will be worse sequels this summer (“Fantastic Four 2” I’m looking at you).