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Archive for June 2nd, 2007

Smash Cut – Spider-Man 3

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WRITER’S NOTEAt long last, I am getting this posted.  And while it’s several weeks removed from holding any real pertinence, it at least gives me the practice of writing these things.  Just to forewarn you though, the tone of this thing reads with a little more pomposity than I would have liked.  I’ll try and do better next time. 

I approached Spider-Man 3 with a certain level of caution.  I never really liked the first film.  The Peter Parke/Mary Jane conflict worked for me, but when the villain looks like he bought his costume at Wal-Mart, I have hard time suspending my disbelief.  And I’m usually very good at that. 

The second film ignored such cringe-inducing elements, and instead dove into the heart of what makes Spider-Man such a great character—the awkward balance between hero and geek, and his struggle to figure out his purpose.  He begins film two conflicted and still somewhat of an enigma to the public, and by the end, he’s won the hearts of the girl, and the people as well.  Peter Parker is finally whole.  But, as my wife would lament, we haven’t seen the wedding yet.  Which means there’s still more story to tell…

The film essentially begins with a happy ending.  Spidey enjoys immense popularity now; MJ is singing on Broadway, and Peter Parker has decided he wants to get married.  The filmmakers have to create tension, and fast.  The only loose end left over from the last film is Harry Osborne’s thirst for vengeance, which won’t carry a film by itself.  Enter the Sandman, established as an object of revenge for Peter by his insertion into Uncle Ben’s death.  You can feel the contrivance already.

Conflict quickly erupts between…
–Peter and Harry
–Peter and the mysterious black suit
–Peter and the Sandman
–Peter and Edward Brock, the new photographer at the Bugle
–Peter and MJ and Gwen Stacy, the girl in his science class
–Peter and Brock and the black suit and…

It’s a lot to cram into 140 minutes. 

I probably would have had a better time had the filmmakers not tried to cram so much into the story.  Topher Grace (Brock) and Bryce Dallas Howard (Stacy) lend a fresh energy to their roles, and building the story around Peter’s interactions with them (and the black suit) might have made a better film.  The themes of redemption and forgiveness, while handled with suitable aplomb, might have made a deeper impact had we been allowed to get to know these characters better.  The Sandman—more of a rehash of the misunderstood villain that characterized Dr. Octopus—just gets in the way. 

A bloated plot allows only a little room for proper resolution.  We still do not get to see a wedding (sorry, honey), and, well, you know what that means…

Written by taj

June 2, 2007 at 6:43 pm