Saturday, May 05, 2007

Review: Spiderman 3

A Sony Pictures release 2007

Directed by Sam Raimi

Writing credits:
Sam Raimi (screenplay)
Ivan Raimi (screenplay)
Alvin Sargent (screenplay)
Stan Lee (Marvel comic book)
Steve Ditko (Marvel comic book)

Six years after 9/11, Spiderman continues to swing on the big screen, keeping New York safe from a slew of spiteful evil-doers. The original Spiderman film, released in May of 2002, was the first true post-9/11 movie. While critics debated whether director Raimi should have kept shots of the fallen towers in the film, audiences connected to Spidey's every-man-with-the-odds-against-him charm, the anti-hero that, like our own country, just wanted to do good for his friendly neighbors but couldn't seem to get the respect he deserved.

Well, now Spiderman has that respect and more - and it seems to have gone to his head. Spiderman 3 is all about Peter Parker's inability to see past the suit, to deal with the 'fame' of being a local hero and the dark forces that drive him to revenge. The film boasts three villians - a feat not since seen in a comic book movie since Batman & Robin - but really it has four, with Parker himself perhaps being the greatest of them all. As he continually pushes the people he loves away, Parker becomes consumed by his own hubris, and that internal struggle is brought to the forefront.

While this may be the logical progression for a franchise that roots itself in the struggles of herodom, unfortunately the film lacks any subtlety that would make this transformation interesting. The characters flail around, guided by that most magical of forces: the hand of the writer. Each moment feels painfully obvious, and fails to take us to any new or spectacular height. It doesn't help that much of the dialogue is stilted in that George Lucas sort of way; look for a trying love scene between Parker and MJ on a bridge that actually brought some of the audience at my screening to hysterics.

But most people don't see these films for the dialogue anyway; its all about watching the webslingler shoot his way across the New York skyline. While some of the CGI moments are momentarily breathtaking, much of the action feels claustrophobic, with shots that are too close up or moving too fast to really even see what's going on. In their most evil form, the villians look overly cartoony and at times it's hard to believe that anything on the screen is even being presented with the illusion of reality at all. I really wish they had waited ten years or so for the technology to improve - it certainly would have helped the Sandman, who looks like a giant clump of digital dust.

My suggestion? See this film on IMAX. It's probably the only way to get the full effect of the action sequences, and it might make the rest of the film seem a bit more palatable as well.

No comments: