Friday, November 07, 2008

I Was Grossly Misinformed About Spider-Man 3...

So much so that I avoided seeing it until now. I'd heard initial reports that Spider-Man 3sucked, and I was so devastated by the disappointment that was X-Men 3, that I just couldn't bear to be let down the same way by my favorite Marvel character. Even when it came up in the Netflix que, it sat unopened for a month until my wife started urging me to just return it unwatched so we could move on to Juno.So I broke down and watched it this week, steeling myself for a heartache.

And I got to say I loved it. I can see how some people complained that it's a Peter Parker movie not a Spider-Man movie, and understand that a movie whose theme is "a husband needs to put his wife before himself" might not be popular with teenagers, and yes, you can see that the studio interference, forcing in three villains at once, did so at the detriment of story. But all the character bits that I loved in Spider-Man 2 are here again. I loved the dance sequences, the relationships, the angst, the triangle between Peter, Harry and Mary Jane. Mind you, the bold exhuberance of the "Rain Drops Keep Fallin' On My Head" sequence was my favorite part of the second film, so take my endorsement with a grain of salt. And, of course, the film is no Dark Knight,but it shouldn't be. This is a movie about a guy who got his superpowers by being bitten by a radioactive/genetically engineered arachnid. I've read the comic, and this was the comic. It was everything I love about Spider-Man and always have. It was a great companion to the previous two.

Number 2 is probably still better structurally, script-wise, if I let myself think about it. But I enjoyed this just as much, and I'd say it's actually better than 1. So we get a nice parabola with 2 in the middle, without much of a drop off, and a very nice three movie arc for the Harry/Green Goblin storyline. Most of all, I'm really relieved that when my son is old enough, I can show him all 3 Spider-Man films across a weekend without having to stop after the second one and brace him for disappointment, the way I'll have to do with X-Men and The Matrix and just about every trilogy ever made except Lord of the Rings. And that's a rare thing indeed.

23 comments:

pussreboots said...

Spiderman 3 is so far my favorite in the series.

Lou Anders said...

Thank you! I think I may like it more than 2 on some levels, less on others.

Ted said...

I had been avoiding Spider-Man 3 because of the reviews, but perhaps I'll give it a try.

As for movie trilogies, the third Indiana Jones movie is pretty good; it's the second one that's a disappointment. (I don't plan on seeing the fourth one, so I'll continue thinking of it as a trilogy.)

Lou Anders said...

I agree with you wholeheartedly about Indiana Jones. One of the problems for me with Temple of Doom (one of the many) is that in Raiders, Jones is dismissive of superstition and "mumbo jumbo" but in Temple of Doom, he's weilding magic from the get-go. Also, do you know that in their renaming/reordering of all the Jones films in with the Young Indiana Jones Chronicles they established that Temple of Doom is actually earlier than Raiders???

Erin Hoffman said...

Glad you liked it. :) There was all kinds of pressure on 3 and it was sort of anti-hyped, which was unfortunate. I stayed away from it until it was on DVD because of hearing all of the outrage, but then I wish I'd seen it in the theatre. It wasn't as good as the second, but it also wasn't nearly as bad as people were saying. I think because the first two established a general upward trajectory, expectations were extremely high for the third. It's definitely worth a look if you liked the first two, you just have to be a bit forgiving, and they don't make it difficult.

I did find the dance thing really, really weird, though. ;) Even if plot-defensible.

As it happens we're doing a mini Matrix marathon this weekend because a coworker's wife hasn't seen any of them (!!!!!), but we're omitting the third. ROI just doesn't work out.

Ted said...

I'd heard that they were renaming the first movie to Indiana Jones and the Raiders of the Lost Ark, but I hadn't heard they were renumbering them. The year given in the opening scene of Temple of Doom makes it explicit that it precedes Raiders, and the hash that makes of Indy's view of the mystical is just another reason to forget the movie. As for renumbering them, I wonder if they'll cut off the opening section of Last Crusade so they can keep everything in chronological order; god forbid that viewers have to deal with the concept of a flashback.

I just thought of a science-fiction movie trilogy where all three films work: Back to the Future.

Sex Mahoney for President said...

For as ham fisted a movie, Spiderman 3 could have been a lot shorter; however, I watched it on a plane, so I was grateful for the long distraction. I disturbed the person sitting next to me by laughing every time a character delivered a line.

Sex Mahoney for President

Joseph Mallozzi said...

Hmmm. With the exception of the Green Goblin's high-tech servo-suit, I thought the first movie was far and away the best of the bunch. It was a nice, tight story. While I preferred the villain in the second movie, I found the story flabbier (egads, the Aunt May speech!), heavy-handed (Spiderman's Christ-like pose as he bodysurfs his way down the crowd of commuters), and occasionally mystifying (I'll just drop this fusion experiment gone awry into New York Harbor and that should just about do it...). I thought Spiderman 3 was an improvement over the second installment although I agree there was simply too much going on. However, I do disagree with you on the dance sequences. The evil Parker bar number = cringeworthy.

Lou Anders said...

Erin - I hope the The Animatrix makes it into your marathon. And you still have to show her the third, even if it sucks, to be completist!

Ted - Would you believe I never saw Back to the Future III, even though I heard good things. I liked I and II though.

Mahoney / Joe - it just rubbed me right. What can I say? I even (or especially) liked the dance scene. Maybe if I'd seen it in the theatre, during the "anti-buzz", I would have felt differently, but I enjoyed being so pleasantly surprised when I went in with zero expectations.

Mark Chadbourn said...

I certainly enjoyed 3 as much as 2. My only wish is that they'd dropped Venom - one villain too many, and Sandman was perfectly multi-dimensional in his own right. My favourite remains 1, I think.

I still can't understand why Spidey 3 got such less-than-stellar reviews.

Praetorian1001 said...

Ted said:
The year given in the opening scene of Temple of Doom makes it explicit that it precedes Raiders...

That's what I always thought.

As for Spiderman 3, I'm also one of those who liked it, and was baffled by some of the initial bad reviews. Glad I'm not the only one.

Sincerely,
John-Mark

Lou Anders said...

Apparently, there are a lot of us!

Ted said...

If you enjoyed the first two Back to the Future movies, I recommend the third, although you should probably rewatch the second beforehand, because the two really constitute a single story.

Joel Shepherd said...

After watching it on an airplane, I can confirm that the fourth Indiana Jones movie is just appalling. Any way you look at it, from an Indy-purist who just wants the fun and games, to a technical script analysis, it just sucks. If you haven't, don't bother.

I still say the best sequel-progression in SF movies is Alien to Aliens (and then ignore everything that came after). Because it's the only time a sequel has done something very different from an excellent first movie, and arguably improved it. Usually they just do the same old same old, with okay results, or they do a radical change and suck.

Lou Anders said...

Ted - I don't know why I've never watched it. I will one day. It's weird that I didn't when it came out, 'cause I loved I and II. Now, what is it about Time Travel that lends itself so well to comedy? Bill and Ted's, etc...

Joel - I didn't bother with Indiana Jones. I might Netflix it at some point but not a high priority for sure. Your opinion moves it even further down the que. As to Alien/Aliens - absolutely agree on all points.

Alvaro Zinos-Amaro said...

Back when the movie was out in theaters, I paid my dues and only after had the courage to ask my friends if I'd somehow landed at the wrong screening. "What do you mean?" they asked with a mix of concern (about my mental stability) and relief (they'd already seen it). "Well, I didn't get to see Spidey 3. Instead, they played me Spiderman 3: The Musical. I'm still waiting for the regular edition." Lou, the wait continues! One day when viewers can edit movies completely and re-make them, I'll finally get what I was looking for. Also, couldn't agree more with J Mallozzi's "cringeworthy" comment regarding that one sequence, btw :-)

Anonymous said...

Lou,

Count me another who liked Spidey 3 just fine. Okay, not as good as #1, but no major complaints.

Maybe it's where (and when) I'm at in life right now, but like you, Lou, the relationship stuff really worked for me -- that conversation in the restaurant, I was sitting there thinking "No -- I've been there and you're screwing up. Listen to her; speak to her! Pay attention, dammit!" But like a fool, he didn't listen to me...

Robert

Lou Anders said...

Thanks Robert. Yeah, I liked the scene where she brings over the bad review and he only wants to relate it back to his own experience for the same reason.

I also found her wistful look at the end of Spider-Man II to be reminiscent of The Graduate, as was the whole runaway bride sequence.

Praetorian1001 said...

Just wanted to add my voice to those recommending Back To The Future, Part III. Definitely worth watching -- and a great end to the trilogy.

Spin the Moon said...

I loved the first two Spider-man movies, but I couldn't see the third in theaters (newborn in the house). So I asked for the 3rd on dvd for Christmas.
When I finally got to watch it, I was horribly disappointed. Everything I liked about two was pretty much gone (except Bruce Campbell).
I think one thing that annoyed me was the whole villain redemption thing. It worked with Doc Ock in two, so apparently they decided 2 out of the 3 villains in the third movie had to be good guys after all.

Anonymous said...

I understand what you're saying about 2 out of 3 villains in Spidey 3 having to be good guys...or at least good guys gone bad. But that didn't bother me, either. As I recall from reading the earliest Spiderman and other Marvel) comics, that's been an ongoing theme since the days of Stan Lee -- that just as the hereoes are flawed, so too are the villains, and that sometimes there's a very narrow divider between good guy and bad guy.

For me that adds some depth to whatever level of characterization exists in these movies. Same goes for Robt Downey's portrayal of Tony Stark in Iron Man as opposed to Jeff Bridges, whose character seemed much more traditional and 2-dimensional.

Robert

Lou Anders said...

That was what I loved about X-Men II and hated about III. You went from having real sympathies with Magneto in II, to a movie where all the "bad" mutants had piercings and tattoos so we'd know they weren't the clean-cut good guys.

KatG said...

Well, that goes to show you that you have to watch the movie before you declare it to be unwatchable, doesn't it? I definitely liked X-Men 2 better than 1 -- where the powerful women were suddenly useless due to special effects costs -- or 3, but 3 certainly wasn't a disaster for me. Kitty Pryde went from a young teenager in 1 to a little girl in 2 and back to an older teenager in 3, so that sort of mars the consistency of the series right there for me. But, they brought Wolverine alive, and in 3, he had real heartbreak, not just remembering torture. So each movie has something and some flaws, and I'd say let your son watch them all and judge for himself.

As for Raiders, at the end of the film, it's Indy that tells Marian to close her eyes. He knows what's coming when that Ark is opened, and that it will be mystical. It's not that he doesn't believe in the mystical; he just doesn't like it and doesn't trust that something is mystical until he's sure. Which is something I've always liked about his character, actually.