Its been a while since I’ve been approached to review a film and I was really excited when I was asked to take a peek at what I had already decided was going to be the biggest and best film of the summer! Spiderman 3.
You all know the theme tune (at least I hope you do – or maybe I’m much older than I realise) … Spiderman, Spiderman... does whatever a spider can etc etc, which in this case may be true, because your average arachnid wouldn’t be able to make an entertaining film with $250 million either.
…It picks up a couple of years after the last film and Peter Parker (Tobey Maguire) is getting a little carried away with life as everyone’s favourite wallcrawler, as well as getting comfy with his girlfriend Mary Jane Watson (Kirsten Dunst). Unfortunately, Mary-Jane is getting bad reviews for her new musical (and - via perhaps the worst agent in screen history - gets fired for her trouble) and she’s also getting tired of Peter’s increasing self-absorbtion with Spiderman (which culminates with her snogging his best mate). In other news, the new girl in Peter’s science class (Ron Howard’s annoying & ginger daughter Bryce) is saved by Spidey and falls for him big time, although she’s already embrolied in a relationship with Eddie Brock (Topher Grace), who isn’t all he appears to be. As if that isn’t enough we get a few new superheroes thrown in for good measure, including a new and improved Green Goblin – the result of Harry Osbourn (James Franco)’s secret meddling in the lab. Oh, and in the middle of all of that bullshit, a meteorite crash lands and saddles Peter Parker with an alien symbiote that takes on the form of a new swanky black Spidey suit which ultimately turns Eddie Brock into Venom.
…and from all of those ingredients and a few more you’d expect Sam Raimi to be able to make a darn tasty film, but for some reason it doesn’t work, it just ends up tasting oddly bland. So why has this happened? Well, I’m not going to go into the specifics of everything in the film / didn’t like, but here is a list of some of its many faults…
Firstly, what are the chances that a Meteor carrying a symbiotic alien lifeform would crash land in New York right next to where the world’s only viable superhero is cosying up with to his girlfriend?!? And how about what chance an escaped convict might have of evading an army of police on-foot simply by climbing over a flimsy 6 ft high fence, then falling headlong into a top secret and highly dangerous particle-beam experiment? And countless others that for the sake of brevity I won’t mention, but you get the picture.
On their own, these plot contrivances might not be too annoying, but they come so quickly one after the other here, that the deck of cards on which the film rests quickly begins to unravel the film into a spaghetti of predictable clichés. This is never more readily highlighted than when they clumsily tie-up the Peter Parker / Harry Osbourn feud by inserting embellishments to scenes that we saw in the first two films, only this time re-filmed and expanded upon to fit the new storyline they are trying to shoe-horn in to the chronology of the series. So you get an aged Willem Dafoe reprising his role in an uncredited cameo as Norman Osborn along with a craggy Cliff Robertson turning up in his role as Uncle Ben, but this time with a face so weathered since the first movie (over 5 years ago) that not only does he look like a completely different actor, but an actor made from plasticine! They might have well saved a few quid and asked Tony Hart to borrow Morph instead!
Perhaps the worst example of these embellishments is Harry Osbourn’s butler, sold to us as a faithful servant who has ‘always been with the Osbourn family’ (kind of like a rubbish Alfred from Batman) whose only real use in this film (and in any part of the trilogy, as I can’t remember ever having seen him in the other two) is to spout some ludicrous exposition about having cleaned and dressed the wounds of Harry’s dad when he died at the end of the first film and, more insultingly for us as the viewer, noticing whilst doing so that the two wounds that killed him were “definitely made by his own glider” and thus informing Harry as to Spiderman’s innocence and his own misspent rage. Lucky that, especially as Spiderman needs the Green Goblin’s help at that point in the film. Thank god for the old butler that we’ve seen so much throughout the trilogy, eh?
So, there’s my review… more a stream-of-consciousness rant than anything comprehensive. But in closing let me say this… please take my thoughts as you will, but I’d still suggest you go and see Spiderman 3 to make up your own minds, I’ve left out some major plot points so there will still be some great surprises in there, and it is still really cool to see a man webslinging his way around New York. There are also some outstanding action set-pieces - notably a costume-less Peter Parker fighting Harry Osborn in the back alleys of the city right at the start of the film and a genuinely funny cameo from Bruce Campbell (unlike his naff appearances in the first couple of films), but overall the film lacks the charm of it predecessors and left me feeling oddly deflated... and that really isn’t the response anyone should be left with after watching (what was billed as) the event movie of the summer.
…Bring on Transformers and Fantastic 4: Rise of the Silver Surfer!
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