MOVIE REVIEW: Spider-Man 3
While it does at times tiptoe on the line of being an epic and brilliant work of cinema, SPIDER-MAN 3 is also a big case of overkill. There's way too much going on, and it just seems to keep on coming.
After a somewhat shaky series of opening scenes (with that voiceover narration by Maguire still being as lame as always), the movie quickly finds its balance. It isn't until the symbiote subplot (involving the black Spidey suit) gets into full swing that things become a little too hectic. Director Sam Raimi pulls off an incredible feat by making the never-ending onslaught of subplots balance as well as they do, but the pieces still don't fit to the extent that you'd hope. There's enough plot here for two or three different movies, with plenty of obstacles for Peter to overcome and an ample amount of baddies for him to fight. But in putting the four main plotlines together (i.e., revenge against Sandman, Peter's relationship with Harry, the symbiote suit/Venom, and problems with MJ), the whole experience becomes overwhelming. There's not nearly enough time to absorb all the intertwining threads, no matter how hard the filmmakers obviously try to make it work.
That's not to say this is a bad movie. Far from it. In fact, despite its shortcomings, this picture still marks one of the most fun times I've had at the movies. It wasn't even until after I left the screening that I started to realize how many problems it had. I bet a large percentage of moviegoers will feel the same, being so taken aback by the constant action sequences and stream of storylines that they never even get a chance to notice the film's problems. That's the good news. Bad news is, there's no way these issues will go unnoticed upon repeat viewings. While SPIDER-MAN 2 seems to just keep getting better with each consecutive viewing, I see this one coming up short. It's still less problematic than the first film (which already feels a bit dated), but it just can't compete with the damn near flawless second.
One of the few complaints I had with SPIDEY 2 was the "raindrops are falling on my head" sequence. It was silly and awkward, not fitting well with the rest of the film's style... Well, this sequel tops it. After the symbiote takes over Parker, there's a lengthy montage sequence of him (now turned emo) strutting down the street, dancing around and pelvic thrusting at women. It's basically him hopping about to music while looking like a jackass. And it gets worse. He goes with Gwen Stacy (a hot but disappointingly extraneous character) to a club, where MJ is currently working, and basically reenacts the scene from ANCHORMAN where Will Ferrell starts randomly playing the trumpet and hopping across tables. There are slight differences, of course; this one involves a piano and groovy dance moves. But the outcome is the same, leaving audience member's mouths agape at the uncomfortable hilarity. They really should've saved that scene for the DVD outtakes. Then it'd at least be fitting.
Fortunately, the whole movie isn't plagued by scenes like these. It's only rarely that things start getting ridiculous or cheesy to the point where you can't help but roll your eyes. The other problem comes in the way of bits of awkward dialogue and rushed character development. There's about an 80% hit rate where everything in the script is as smooth as can be, but that last 20% block does hurt the a few vital aspects of the storytelling. Particularly when it comes to fleshing out character motives and emotional conflicts (something that was given almost complete focus in the first two movies).
At least the action sequences stand strong as some of the most spectacular since... well, SPIDER-MAN 2. They take full advantage of the characters' abilities and surroundings, and then fuse the two together to create a number of downright breathtaking moments. The CGI isn't quite flawless yet, but it's still a visual feast for the eyes. The only disappointment is the use of Venom. He does get some time to shine in the movie's third act (or possibly ninth, taking into account how many different stories overlap), but Topher Grace removes all of the character's menace. It really hurts me to write that, considering how wonderfully handled everything was concerning Brock's character before that point. But alas, despite Grace's strong and amiable efforts, his voice is just too awkward coming out of Venom's mouth. And all they needed was some slight voice alteration to fix the problem. Drats.
It's hard to cast this third (and possibly final) installment of the SPIDEY franchise in a more positive light, because frankly, there's nowhere to go but down. SPIDER-MAN 2 is a masterpiece! It created a perfect blend of action, story, and just good ol' comic book fun. SPIDER-MAN 3 does its best to follow through on this unreachable standard, and surprisingly enough, it comes very close to succeeding. Sure, the problems it has stand out like a sore thumb, but that doesn't stop the movie from sharing that same wonderful energy that was so very evident in the first two films.
It may not be a flawless endeavor, but it's certainly epic. Raimi and company reach for the stars, and instead end up making it halfway across the universe. It's one bumpy and crazy ride getting there, but when things go well, they go really damn well. And while some movie trilogies end on a note that make you yearn for one last installment to redeem the series (I'm looking at you, X3!), we should be so lucky to get a conclusive finish to the SPIDER-MAN series. Almost brings a tear to my eye.
8 out of 10
Spider-Man - 7 out of 10
Spider-Man 2 - 9 out of 10
IF YOU HAVE ANY QUESTIONS REGARDING THE FILM, DROP ME A COMMENT AND I'LL BE SURE TO GET BACK TO YOU ASAP.