Spider-man 3 - Tangled Web
| In the first Spider-man film, there is a wonderful symmetry brought about by Peter Parker learning the hard way that “with great power comes great responsibility.” Out of spite he lets a thief go, that thief turns out to be the man who kills Peter’s uncle in his attempt to escape. It’s one of the hallmarks of the Spider-man mythos. Well, in Spider-man 3 all that is out the window.
A bad sequel is one that not only doesn’t live up to its predecessors, but actually reduces them further.
Spider-man 3 is a big mess. It suffers from “bat-sequel-itis” in that there are far too many villains, far too many useless subplots and far too many needless romantic interests. It’s all thrown into one movie and the result is that none of it works well.
Let’s begin with the Peter/Mary Jane/Harry Osborne love triangle. This feels tired from the beginning. Just as 2 started to make it interesting, 3 feels like a soap opera. Not only do they draw this out and hammer it to death, but they spend so much of the movie on it that it takes away from the other stories.
Maybe that last part is a bit of a blessing because honestly the other stories are silly. The Sandman, played by Thomas Haden Church, is the silliest looking villain in this movie series, a series that has the dumbest looking villains ever. Saying that he looks more ridiculous than the Willem Dafoe in his goblin mask is really saying something. But beyond looking dumb, his role is useless. He doesn’t advance the story at all. Everything that happens to Peter could have occurred without this device. All it does is get in the way. Just so that Peter has an excuse to become vengeful, they change the whole story arc of the series by making the Sandman Uncle Ben’s killer. They try to give him some silly-ass motivation (his daughter is sick) but this doesn’t fly. How does robbing banks and trying to kill Spider-man get his daughter well?
Then again, the motivations for the Green Goblin and Doc Ock were pretty thin as well…
And what's with the silly looking suit? I know that's how he looked in the comics but it was a silly design there too.
Then there is Venom, who isn’t actually named in the movie. He had the potential to be a very threatening looking villain but the special effects used to render him look so poor that he seems almost "sketched." I could draw better than how he looks in the movie and I can’t draw at all. Instead of looking scary he just seems silly. And to make it worse, they keep pulling back his scary-fanged face to reveal Topher Grace’s head wearing vampire teeth underneath. How scary is Eric Forman wearing dollar store vampire teeth? Not very.
His back story is poorly executed as well. He’s jealous because he’s a loser and Peter exposed him as such. Also, Peter flirted with his “girl friend.” Therefore he wants to see Peter dead. Oh what clever and original plotting! With all they try to pack into this feature, this is all just thrown at us at a mile a minute and we never really get to see the hatred building or believe it. If they had spent time making this character feel real, maybe we could have bought it but by throwing him into this already convoluted movie, it just falls flat.
Topher's “girl friend” Gwen Stacey is also useless to the plot. She conveniently kisses Spidey in the most unbelievable and inconsistent scene in the film so that MJ can be jealous. She also conveniently gets herself into trouble so she can be rescued. She’s a cheat for the writers. Instead of actually building real conflict in the story they just throw her in. Again, it's another attempt to throw in more references into an already overpacked story and it doesn't work.
The movie further ruins the whole series by reducing J. Jonah Jameson, brilliantly played by J.K. Simmons, to an oafish loser. In 2 he really got to shine as a boorish but somewhat dangerous antithesis to Parker's honourability. Here he is just comic relief and not ever very funny comic relief. When he gets taken advantage of by a child, it's the last straw. This character is nothing but a joke.
There is something about the third movie in a series. This is where most seem to go wrong. Spider-man 3 is no exception. Raimi seemed to loose all that worked in the first films. I do believe the first two films are overrated and a bit amateurish but 3 just tosses away whatever goodwill was built up. He throws in too much melodrama. He throws in silly musical numbers that don’t feel true to the characters or story.
It seems to come down to the fact that he has lost respect for his characters. Sure it's a story about a wall crawling human spider but I don't care. You have to respect the subject or it just falls apart. You have to believe in what you are doing or else the audience won't believe it. I just wasn't convinced anyone involved truly believed they were making a great film.
Spider-man 3 feels like a joke. Raimi’s parodying himself and like in the similarly parodying Superman 3 it ruins it all. At least he stays true to ripping off that series like he did in 1 and 2. Just like in Supes 3 the hero gets exposed to something alien which turns him to the dark side and he starts wearing a darker suit. I guess there really are no new ideas.