Spider-Man 3: A Summer Craptacular

The Movie: 7 PM screening of Spider-Man 3
The Venue: Mann Cinema 6, St. Louis Park, MN

Contains vague spoilers.

Monday night movies with the guys. Meet up after work, have a few beers, grab a bucket of popcorn (butter in the middle, please) and sit down to watch Spider-Man 3, which I'd been really looking forward to seeing. Although, something wasn't quite right... something was amiss... had I spider-senses, they would've been a-tingle.

Our first hint that something wasn't right was that we had the theater to ourselves. Completely. Empty. Just us three. As it turns out, this ended up being the best part of the movie. But I'm getting ahead of myself...

Having the pick of the house, we took our seats. We made fun of the slide-show for a while, the horrible voiceover, hoping that the movie's sound wasn't as crappy as the crackly soundtrack advertising "Bunny's Sports Bar", commenting that "Bunny's Sports Bar" wasn't likely to make our top 50 lists of bars to visit when we noticed that the movie... well, the trailers at least, should've started already. Seeing how the theater wasn't really going to get any more full, my buddy went to see what was up. Sure enough, the projectionist was hanging out at the concession stand, gabbing it up with popcorn girl. Classy.

So, trailers are over, and the film starts... and what's this? The opening credits... I feel like we're watching some bad rainy Sunday-afternoon "80's Movie of the Week" flick, not a movie on which they spent $270 million. (Actually, there are claims that Sony spent upwards of $350 million - add in marketing and we're talking close to $500 million. Gasp. So, keep that dollar amount in mind as you read on.) Apparently they spent about $4.95 on the opening credits, which were a bad attempt at recapping the previous films.

Ok - the film starts in earnest, and I shake off the bad taste that the opening left me with.

And the bad taste comes creeping back quickly.

I'm even trying to be nice. but I can't. More often than not, I found myself thinking, "sheesh". The goofy (creepy) weirdness of Peter & Mary Jane making out on a giant web. Also, Parker must really be twitter-pated by MJ as the METEOR that has just crashed to earth nearby barely garners any interest. Some newspaper photog you are, Peter, you putz. So now we've got a symbiote stuck to the back of Parker's moped... things are going to get ugly. But not in a good way. (Insert crazy-jangling spider-sense here.)

Any time the movie builds up some momentum to get things going, it inexplicably brings everything to a screeching halt - not unlike an unrealized sneeze. It almost felt good. And to spare the (yawn) details, the movie grinds on, trying to make sense, trying to be fun. Trying trying trying. By this time, though, we see the results of $270 million: special effects. Somebody had tons-o-fun jabbing the FX button. They jabbed hard and they jabbed often. I ended up wanting to break the finger of the button jabber. Speaking of the FX, sure, they took a lot of work and computing power. Lots of people had lots of fun making glitzy, flashy, at times nausea-inducing FX for their demo reels. Congratulations. Were they glitzy? Yes. Were they flashy? You bet. Nausea-inducing? Yes, but in more ways than one. Were they good? No. They left me thinking, "wow, those are some special effects. (yawn)" which means they didn't work (for me) because I had time to think about them.

For that matter, the FX often felt more like a video game than anything else. Especially towards the end where Parker plants the piping around Venom to create the sonic mayhem, I found myself looking for my PlayStation2 controller. Had I found it, I probably would've ejected the game and opted for GrandTurismo3 instead.

At one point, my buddy on my left started predicting what horrible, cheesy line some character would spout next, and sadly, more often than not he guessed right.

This is where the fact that we had the theater to ourselves became a blessing, as our jeering and expressions of contempt didn't interrupt anyone else's viewing enjoyment. (Actually, that's my one recommendation for this movie: if you see it, see it in an empty theater.)

Then the movie ended, but the pain endures. $270 million dollars to do that to a movie franchise that I love. Oof.

Two gems: Bruce Campbell's french waiter, and JK Simmons as Jameson. Great performances - only real laughs the film got out of me (outside of derisive hoots, that is).

Stinkers: James Franco (again), Topher Grace (at least they blew him up at the end...), a stupid stupid STUPID cameo by Stan Lee, and everything else.

To me, it felt as though Raimi was sick and tired of Spider-Man movies and figured out a way to make sure he never had to do one again. That being said, it seems that he's "in talks" to do Spider-Man 4. Swell. Regardless, Sony is going to make an absolute TON of cash on this cow, and it breaks my heart that this is how things go with movies. Hype the crap, people buy into it. Studios make more crap to hype, using the justification of "well, it did make money, you know."

What it comes down to is this: the film had potential. It had elements of flawed hero, redemptive villans, the overall Spider-Man ethos of "with great power comes great responsibility" and $270 million to harness world-class artistry. It takes all of these things and hammers it into a flavorless, formless, gooey mess and puts sprinkles on it (read: special effects) hoping to make it palatable. Well, I bought into the hype and tried this one, but despite the sprinkles you can't tell me it's good.

Good luck,


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