September 14 2008

Spider-Man 3

When Spider-Man 3 was being filmed, and I started to hear about the number of villians in the film, I already pretty much knew it was going to be painful to watch.

Well, I was wrong… it was worse.

Anytime you introduce too many new characters into an existing franchise, and you are trying to balance their introduction with showing off the old characters, it’s not going to work.  In this film you had the following all brought into the fold:

Yes, I list Eddie Brock and Venom seperately because that’s how they were introduced and it was almost like a villain team-up when they came together.  So by the time you were done with the new character arcs (which really was only two as Gwen did next to nothing and Venom is more a force) you also had Harry going Green Goblin II, Mary Jane dealing with her career and Peter… I’m still not sure how many story arcs he had going, but it was more than one.  So you had five characters all attemtpting to have story arcs in an action film where you will lose major chunks of development time to fights.

So, as opposed to only picking on the film, I thought I would do something different this time in actually offering sugegstions of how it could have been done better.

Eliminate the “Flint Marko Killed Uncle Ben” story angle – It felt exceptionally shoehorned in to the overall movie storyline.  Leave him as just a misunderstood thug who wants to help his daughter.  Maybe have him hurt Mary Jane or Aunt May in a robbery and you can still have the same conversation at the construction site at the end.

Chuck the Harry gets amnesia sub-plot – It would have been far more interesting to have Harry fake being changed from the near-death experience to build empathy from Peter and Mary Jane.  You could have still accomplished all of the same things (MJ calling Harry for comfort… Peter and Harry bonding again… Peter/Harry fight where Harry gets hurt) and saved some time for other developments.

Possibly we could have gotten rid of the incredibly random deus ex machina moment with the butler showing up in the Goblin room and telling Harry that Spider-Man didn’t kill his father.

Have the black costume span two movies – This was the biggest problem to me.  Sam Raimi, director of all three films, said in numerous interviews before the third film that he was totally disinterested in using Venom as he didn’t find the character compelling.  Since this was planned to be the last film, Sony, the studio backing the series, insisted that Venom be included for marketing purposes and a potential spin-off film.  Raimi’s total lack of interest in the character is apparent in the film, but it sadly needed to be a two film arc if it was even going to be bothered with.

You could have had the meteor impact in one film (drastically different than the comics, but I liked it), have Peter get the black costume, feel the strength, etc.  In the second film you would have Peter’s further descent into the evil side of the suit.  You would also have Brock in the first film and carry over to the second, and everything would have felt a lot less rushed and more fleshed out.

Could we go one movie without the villain(s) learning his secret identity? – So, one villain finally got away knowing who Spider-Man is.  Great.  Could we go one movie withot his mask getting trashed and the bad guys always learning who he is?

The dancing scene – Have Peter make out with Gwen while MJ sings her song on stage, show MJ going on with the show while in pain, but having her completely shut down for one of the most ridiculous moments ever in a movie was just painful.

So, was there anything good about the movie?  Well… hmm… I like the fact we’re still getting the Dr. Conners cameos, but maybe we can finally get him to play his bigger part in the next one?  (Won’t spoil what’s up with him for the non-comic book readers in the audience)  Beyond that, that was really about it.

I think this whole debacle was caused by little to no self-editing.  It almost felt like every first idea they had they ran with it without thinking anything through.  There was just no passion for this project it seemed from anyone involved.  It even visually looked lackluster compared to the first two, this one seemed very cartoonish, over-the-top from costuming up through lighting.

Now comes the bigger question why I would bother ranting about a year old movie.  Well, I just finally saw it this weekend, and Sam Raimi and Tobey Maguire have just recently signed for Spider-Man 4 & 5.  There is no word yet on Kirsten Dunst, but considering hwo much Sony wants to keep the team together, I imagine they will be offering her enough to lure her back.  There are also rumors the two movies will be shot back-to-back to cut costs, so if #4 goes wrong, that pretty much assures #5 not being that great either.

I probably wouldn’t care so much if I hadn’t actually enjoyed the first two films, but the third one just went so horribly wrong on every level, it makes me worried they won’t be able to stitch it back together for two more.

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