His response: "Without question..."
Well, that's how it goes. There are some flicks you just plain WANT to see as soon as humanly possible, before Cornelius Rooster even wakes up and cocks both his doo and his doodle. Spider-Man movies fit into that category, I suppose, even if the up-all-night thing introduces us to the usual gang of the geeks, the nerds, the spazes and even the gits that are essentially the action film answer to grindhouse insomniacs. They're almost as scary too.
I will say that this time I didn't have to loom (with all my height and girth) over a mega-dork named Todd who loudly proclaimed to the only people who would hang out with him that he made TEN DOLLARS an hour testing video games just to get him to shut up. No, that was before Spider-Man 2. Uh... sorry, Todd... say hi to your parents for me... when you next come up from the basement. Well, I've got less girth now, but I can still be pretty gosh-darn scary... Though not as scary as Venom!
Or the prospect of the third Spidey flick had the potential to be overwrought, top heavy and ultimately collapse under its own weight. Look, dudes, chicks, pimps and tricks, it's no spoiler at all that Spider-Man 3 features not one or two, but three villains carrying around cans of RAID... four if you count the film's "Luke Battles Himself" moments which permeate the entire second act.
It's no spoiler because the Media Blitz took care of all the spoiling with virtually every ad. From the appearance of a Sand Man to the re-emergence of a certain "Goblin" to the "Saga of the Black Costume" to even the violent expulsion of said eveningwear, I half wondered why the hell they didn't just give us the whole ending in the previews along with a quick flash that said "Dr. Crowe was a ghost, Lane Frost dies in the end, Dil is really a man, Tyler Durden doesn't exist, Soylent Green is made out of People, The 'Monkey Planet' was Earth all along, Mr. Glass is the bad guy, Verbal is Keyser Söze and that dead body on the bathroom floor is the real Jigsaw!"
The Spoilers in and of themselves were as annoying as foot itch while you're wearing Boots, but the fact that they were showing so very much happening in just one flick strongly implied that Sam and Ivan Raimi (with their screenwriting compatriot Alvin Sargent were packing in the story lines to the point that film three might beg for Jenny Craig.
After watching Spider-Man 3, I can tell you that this is true. The film tries to do way too much at once and really paces itself as faster than a speeding arachnid. Even comparing all this to the comics (which, I admit, is rough going), it's hard to imagine things progressing so far, so fast. If this were a TV show, it could, and probably should, fill an entire season of episodes.
That said, the entertainment value of Spider-Man 3 is incalculable... this film is off the charts when it comes to fun and enjoyment. Even with the too-fast pace, Director Sam Raimi and the gang make most of this feel almost logical and the timing just seems like a matter of course. Raimi's talents as a director are stretched here to the same limits as the plot points in this film, but they never really show signs of stress. The man has it where it counts, and I tip the ol' hat-bone to him. Still... This could, and probably should, as well have been two movies... at least.
Dispensing with the paintings that graced the opening credits of Spider-Man 2, the now-familiar animated web gives us a live-action recap of the pertinent events of the previous films in the series over a back drop of Danny Elfman's main title theme. When we last saw Harry Osborn (James Franco), he not only discovered that his arch enema Spider-Man was actually, in real life, his best buddy Peter Parker (Tobey Maguire), and was being inspired by the ghost (maybe) of his dad Norman (Willem Dafoe) to take revenge for Spidey's alleged culpability in ol' Normie's demise. Bummer day, that one.
Does Osborn-light follow in his sick father's airborne footsteps? Well, let's just say "The Adventures of Ozzie and Chariot" are again in full swing, this time with a more EXTREEM X-Games attitude (sky boarding anyone)? Worse than that, Prince Hal is still more than a rival for the affections of sweet, sweet Mary Jane (Kirsten Dunst), whom Peter is just on the verge of popping the question to.
But if Harry and his alter ego of The New Goblin aren't enough to either steal his wife, take his life or both, Spider-Man (and Peter Parker) have to face off with escaped convict Flint Marko (Thomas Haden Church) who not only has connections to the death of poor Uncle Ben (Cliff Robertson), but also soon achieves Super Powers from a mostly unexplained experiment that makes him a being of Living Sand (he's not the king of dreams and he doesn't wear a gas mask, but he's "The Sandman). Ah? Do we see a parallel with Harry's daddy issues? Need we glasses, kiddos? Throw in the fact that the Sand-dude is really a sad-eyed and sympathetic daddy to a sick child (Perla Haney-Jardine's Penny), not to mention a sad-eyed and sympathetic estranged husband to an angry ex-wife (Theresa Russell's Emma), and you've got yourself a complex foe, there, Sparky!
Whew, that's already way too much... Good thing there's no more plot to go into - Oh, wait... there is more. Between his impending loss of Mary Jane, his turmoil over the non-Long-Grain-and-Wild-Rice purveying variety of Uncle Ben, the tears of sweet Aunt May (Rosemary Harris), his best buddy trying to skewer him with a spiny surfboard, and an insipid new photographer named Eddie Brock (Topher Grace) trying to muddy his name and boggart his job Peter cycles into a spiral of depression and revenge that threatens to consume him... and literally it does.
Enter the "Symbiote"... Like The X-Files' "Black Oil", but with a much nastier viscosity, this Alien from a Meteorite that crashes to Earth while Pete and MJ are kissing (No... I'm not kidding... if they'd both screamed "WHAT A LOVER!" at the same time, I'd have clapped). Similar to the way it happened in the comic, the Symbiote bonds with Peter, who embraces his new black costume like a new pair of Doc Martens. Soon, Spider-Man is a Black Widower in the night, doing a little more than merely webbing up criminals now, and Peter... well, he's starting to resemble "Goth Stan" from that one episode of South Park when Wendy Testaburger broke up with him.
Whew... that's all for Goth Spidey, right? Not... even... close... BUD! If they hadn't already introduced enough new elements, we're also granted the presence of the now-iconic characters of Captain George Stacy (James Cromwell) and his daughter (and Eddie Brock's love interest) Gwen Stacy (Bryce Dallas Howard)... in spite of the fact that they already gave her most memorable scene to Mary Jane in the first film. The usual gang of supporting cast is still there, including J. K. Simmons' delightfully obnoxious J. Jonah Jameson, Bill Nunn's professional Joseph 'Robbie' Robertson, Ted Raimi's sycophantic Hoffman and Elizabeth Banks' lovely Miss Betty Brant. And, yeah, still lurking around like a... well, like a Lizard... is Dylan Baker's Dr. Curt Connors, still disarmed.
Am I forgetting Bruce Campbell? No way, man! Ol' Ash himself is still stealing the show as a hilarious French Maître d’! Nor am I forgetting about Stan "The Man" Lee who shows up just long enough to to share some words of wisdom and remind us all what always made those Bullpen Bulletins so cool.
Yep, there are many, many, many familiar faces here... and you'll see them all, too... just about everyone with a secret identity takes their mask off at seemingly poorly chosen times. Man, you see Spidey's face more than you ever see Superman's even. Hully Gee!
Cast... Characters... Crew... Plot... It's a whole lot! And it goes on like that, at break-neck speed up until the exhilarating finish, which comes long, long after all these divergent elements come to a head... If you're looking at that Symbiote and poor old Eddie Brock and thinking, we've got to get these two together... let me tell you, when worlds collide, they're gonna give you some terrible thrills.
Yeah, the film is rushed, and what takes place in a couple of days took place over several years in the comic. Sure, there's only so much one can do in 140 Minutes, but it's hard not to think that the film might have been better served split into two or more flicks. Even so, Spider-Man 3 is one incredible film with more entertainment value in a few seconds than most films even come close to getting to in their entire run time. It's generally only in hindsight that the over-the-top element truly end up feeling "comic bookish". That is, of course, credited to some very fine actors who can deliver the frequently pulpy lines with both vigor and sincerity. Also, it's a credit to the fertile imagination of the Raimi Gene... and to a budget that could fund the Marcos Shoe collection. Bye-bye King Kong, Spidey 3's Two-hundred fifty Million dollar budget swings above even the mighty ape's tall shoulders.
This shows in many areas, most notably the special effects. Seeing the Sandman build himself up and break himself to bits is an amazing sight, as are so many of the fight scenes that are made all the more thrilling by their adept Roger-Rabbit-esque meshing of live action and animation. Still, like all films in the series, Spider-Man 3 suffers from the occasional obvious CGI moment, making it look more like a video game than a movie.
But what a movie! From the mile-high Spider/ Goblin fight to the penultimate Team Up of Heroes, Villains, and Damsels in Distress, this is my kind of movie. It may not be perfect, but, Geek Cred or not... this is my kind of movie... Inventive, Fearless, Well Done and... FUN!
Not to mention the fact that Dunst is still looking incredible in anything she wears on that body of hers. And she's not alone... Howard, Banks... Dude, I'd even take Mageina Tovah's nerdy, yet somehow still hot Ursula. Why should I complain? I can't.
Four Stars out of Five for Spider-Man 3... I was all set to give it three and a half (with its unfinished plot points, unexplained ideas and rushed premise), but man, does it ever end up shining and leaving a good feeling in its wake. Now, if you'll excuse me... I'm going to see if I can find anybody left in New York who HASN'T seen Spider-Man without his mask on... I wonder if he's going to save some old lady one day only to have her say "About time, Pete... now how's your Aunt and them?"
See you UNMASKED in the next reel!
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The 2007 Winter of Wit!
Also... Part of
Spring Into Action (2007)!
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