Arguable the biggest movie of the year, Spider-Man 3, opened last Friday to record numbers. Naturally, all of us Doomers took in the spectacle. What’d we all think? Well, here’s what four of us thought, at least…
Jim Doom: My criticism is that the movie lacked the depth and sophistication of the previous two movies. Spider-Man 1 and 2 were good movies, whereas Spider-Man 3 was good for the modern genre of the superhero movie. Its level of unnecessary camp and emotional shallowness was more reminiscent of Fantastic Four or X-Men 3 than either of the first two Spider-Man >movies.
Fin Fang Doom: Let’s start with the camp thing. That’s a pretty common criticism, no?
Jim: I don’t know. I haven’t read any reviews.
Jean-Claude Van Doom: That’s pretty consistent.
Jim: But I think that camp can be endearing and charming, but it can also cross the line and cheapen the characters at the expense of gags. I thought this fell into the latter category.
Colonel Doom: There’s a high level of goofy in Spider-Man 3
JCVD: And I would agree with that assessment. It felt like a cheap popcorn flick far too often.
Fin: Spider-Man is probably the campiest superhero out there, though. In comics, I mean
JCVD: Jim, what were the campiest moments that hurt the flick for you?
Jim: One place in which I thought it really weakened the film was when Peter was “Bad Peter.” I was really intrigued by Bad Peter when he was telling off Harry and flung the grenade. I really wanted to see more of Dark Peter, but I thought Dark Peter was completely ruined by the excessive sidewalk dance sequence. Peter’s inhibitions were removed and his aggression was enhanced. We saw a Peter Parker in Harry’s lair that was dark, sinister and EXTREMELY INTRIGUING. That turned out to be all that we saw of that aspect of his personality, because for whatever reason, the powers that be thought the movie would be better served by dancing and stupidity so that the audience would laugh rather than seeing an actual emotional change to Peter.
JCVD: The reasoning I’ve heard for that is Peter Parker is an extremely dorky guy, so him acting in a very aggressive way would essentially be a super-aggressive dork
Colonel: Not to mention the jazz bar dance-off. Having dark Peter scar his best friend in a rage is a great twist on the “great power/great responsibility” theme that is the core of spider-man. But then having Peter improv jazz piano, well, that makes him more humorous than threatening or as easily corruptible as any non super-powered person. And just kind of makes it funny when he slaps Mary Jane at the end of it.
JCVD: I’m tempted to call that Sam Raimi’s “I’m Keith Hernandez” moment. It was like he’d made all this money, had all this success, so why not a dance sequence? But what it really did was puncture the suspension of disbelief for audience-goers, which sounds strange for a film with aliens and radioactive spiders
Fin: See, but the second Peter stops his silly dance and glares up at MJ, you realize that no matter how funny it looked, he was doing it to be mean. Like JCVD said, super-aggressive Peter is a super-aggressive dork.
Jim: If that is going to be the rationale for the cheap stupidity, then they never should have had the scene in the secret lair, because that was not a dork. That was a mean, mean badass.
Colonel: But you know he’s doing it to be mean the whole time! You know that’s why he’s going to that bar. They could have had dark peter be a dick without the song and dance.
JCVD: Yeah, he was not mean while dancing, just stupid.
Jim: Exactly. There was nothing good about that scene that couldn’t have been accomplished without the stupid dancing that made it lame.
JCVD: So, anything beyond the dance number as needless camp?
Jim: Also, am I wrong, or did the video at the very beginning say “I’m Peter Parker, the (whatever) Spider-Man?”
Jim: I swear it said his real name!
Fin: That was voiceover within the movie, but not within the commercial.
Jim: Oh, I thought that was broadcasting as part of the commercial, so I was like “This has got to be a dream.” Thanks for clearing that up.
JCVD: I dream that I’m Fred Astaire.
Jim: I also hated the brief pause in front of the American flag.
Fin: That was hilarious, though.
Jim: Hilarious in an “Oh my god, could this sink any lower?” way.
Fin: It was totally making fun of itself at that point…
Jim: Which is really unfortunate, because 1 & 2 were good enough movies to not need to make fun of themselves.
Colonel: Fin Fang Doom may have a point…we are talking Sam Raimi here
Jim: Right. We’re talking a guy who made two really good movies with “Spider-Man” in the title.
JCVD: The Wayans brothers make fun of themselves.
Fin: the first Spider-Man ended with Spidey swinging in front of an American flag
JCVD: That was right after 9/11 and probably forced in by the suits.
Fin: The original ending had the helicopter between the twin towers which Raimi was forced to change to Spidey swinging in front of an American flag. Raimi was making fun of that.
Jim: I bet.
JCVD: I didn’t pay $7 to watch Sam Raimi’s in-joke.
Jim: No kidding.
JCVD: Let’s talk about something else.
Jim: If that’s what he was going for, he just ended up making fun of himself. I also hate that scientists are always conducting experiments in the middle of the night…
Fin: Otherwise the gravitational pull of the sun gets in the way
Jim: …and that for some reason, that experiment transformed a human and everything he was wearing into silicon, yet not his locket.
Fin: It was an adamantium locket, maybe?
JCVD: I think that point segues into my big beef with the movie, which is that it was horribly written in spots.
Fin: I can’t argue with that
Jim: I’m curious, Fin Fang – are you trying to be funny or are you trying to make excuses for the movie?
Fin: Those last two were jokes
Colonel: What I hated was that Peter forgiving Sandman was also peter letting Sandman escape
JCVD: Any chance we’ll talk about what I want to talk about? Anyone? Bueller?
Fin: The writing, yes.
Jim: I would have liked some statement like “We all make mistakes, and we can all be forgiven, and part of being forgiven is accepting responsibility for your mistakes.” And then Sandman turns himself in. The writing: I felt like it was written by Mark Steven Johnson (isn’t that the Daredevil / Ghost Rider guy?).
Fin: You mean badly?
Check back at noon tomorrow for part two of this three (yes, three!) part review.