Friday, May 4, 2007

Spider-Man 3

Thanks to a little scheduling assistance at work, I made it out to see Spider-Man 3 at a midnight showing late last night, or early this morning, all depending on how you look at it.

On the whole, let me say that I think it was very well done. I don't think it quite topples Spider-Man 2 for the best of the franchise (and possibly best super-hero movie I've seen) but it gives it a good, respectable try, and somehow avoids a whole host of pitfalls associated with super-hero movie franchises that run for more than two pictures.

So if you're asking me if I recommend it... I do. Wholeheartedly. But it's not perfect.

First, there are the detail oriented things that just bug me. Why isn't Venom talking in the plural? My impression of the character was that because of the failure to bond with Peter, he never properly bonded with Brock, leading to the use of plural pronouns when referring to himself. And while I like using Topher Grace as Eddie Brock to show commonalities between him and Peter... Venom's usually drawn as being big. Like, body-builder big. Something just doesn't look right, specifically about his head. Maybe that's just me, but I think it's because of the basic body-form.

But those are just little details, and conceptually I think there are some bigger issues that handicap this movie more than the others. I understand why Sam Raimi made the choices he made... and I can't say that I disagree with him, but they do stop him from just swinging for the fences.

There was a three-movie deal for the Spider-Man franchise before anybody could re-negotiate. As long as the studio wanted to make this movie, the prices were all locked in, and the actors and staff were guaranteed work. So if or when there's a Spider-Man 4, there's no telling who the director will be. Sam Raimi would, rightly, ask for more money for any future pictures. He's taken Spider-Man to the top of the comic-book movie pile. Heck, it was the dual successes of Spider-Man and the first two X-Men movies directed by Bryan Singer that restored credibility to comic-book movies.

But the fact of the matter is, Columbia Studios, owned by Sony, may tell Raimi to get lost if he asks for more money. And a change in director is the kiss of death for the comic book movie franchise. The first spate of Batman movies died when they were handed over to Joel Schumacher, Public Enemy #1. The Superman franchise took a severe hit when Richard Lester. And Brett Ratner's X-Men 3 puts him just one step behind Schumacher in my book.

So since this is quite possibly Sam Raimi's last Spider-Man movie, I can understand him wanting to cram everything into it that he can. So we get a resolution to the whole Peter/Harry/MJ thing, we get Gwen Stacy, the black suit, Sandman, Venom... there's enough material in here for three movies. And Spider-Man 3 loses it's focus.

Like I said... I understand why the movie is the way it is. I don't like it any less... it's a ride, and there's no denying that. But I would've liked to have seen all this over two or three movies.

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