Monday, May 07, 2007

Spider-Man 3 - a short review

Three words: boring, nuts, and slightly satisfying (oops, that’s three words or phrases – sorry).

The first act was incredibly inert. The various threads of story, of which there were too many for this sort of movie, took an hour to get in place, and of the three or four action sequences, I only really responded to the one where the villain was an out of control crane. I thought, by an hour in, that the movie was bad. Taost. Sort of painful to get through.

Then something interesting happened. There is a scene from the first movie, my favorite scene, where Peter is in his room, and the Russian landlords daughter comes in and gives him cake. The scene is out of place, doesn’t really hit on any of the themes of the movie, and just sticks out in a disjointed way. And I loved it. Like a piece of popcorn stuck in your teeth, I just kept going back to it, the little Last Temptation of Spidey moment.

So, about 40% of the way into SM3, that scene metastasizes into this movie, and detonates (mixed metaphor nonwithstanding, you get the idea). The pregnant food metaphor is everywhere in the middle third of this movie, all screwed up omlettes and bring me pizza and cooking frenzies and cookie eating and “can you get me some with nuts?” Nuts indeed. Even before the Jazz club scene pushes perilously close to “Cuban Pete” territory, the movie has gone all ADD on us. I haven’t read any reviews of the movie, but I am SURE everyone has covered how when Peter goes evil, he gets emo (even pulling his bangs over in the first scene for Christ sakes), so the less said the better.

But an even funnier thing happens at the end. This overburdened movie that bit off too much to chew, that is full of incredibly expensive effects scenes that are both boring and unreal, somehow gets a bit rewarding. The movie seems like it was constructed backwards… all these unsatisfying beginnings coalesce into a workable ending. Most superhero movies tend to strand themselves before the end, terminating in messy and inconclusive set pieces because the conflict has been set up, and nothing is left to do but slug it out (and these fights of ideas work better on the comic page where it’s easier to talk in long paragraphs while being pummeled). This one is satisfying only when things come together, and that’s something.

So the first movie was nice, the second was a masterpiece of fitting a wormy thematic morass spanning decades of comics history elegantly into a movie structure. The thirds was a bit of a schizophrenic odd duck. But, in the end it worked. Kinda.

My 11 year olds short review, just for balance:

“Needed more Venom.” Point taken.


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