Wednesday, May 09, 2007

Spiderman 3

Ok, just a disclaimer... if you haven't seen it yet, don't read this.

Is it safe?

Can I start talking now?

Are they all gone? Everyone still here has seen it, right?

Ok....So, what on earth was that?

We saw Spidey 3 for my fiance's birthday. We were prepared, not for ultimate disappointment, but knew that there were too many characters in this film for it to be a great story. We were anticipating a boatload of awesome film effects, but we figured at times there might be too much going on in the plot for it to send a clear message.

(Last chance. If you haven't seen it, stop reading.)

So at the end of the movie, was anyone satisfied? A funeral, with no dialogue between the remaining characters, but a voiceover about choice? I mean, it didn't have to be a happy ending... but it shouldn't have been a narration of the obvious message that had been playing out through story and character for the past three movies.

Utlimately, in my opinion, the climax was the moment Harry chose to save Peter's life by losing his own. After that, Spiderman has the renewed will and strength to end the battle, trying (but failing) to save the other photographer's life (and destroy the dark 'ego' creature) and forgiving the Sand Man who was only trying to save his daughter and made a fatal mistake (accidentally killing Peter's uncle)... it's all beautiful in writing, but I don't feel as though it was executed in the best way.

Namely, the film focus was split a little too much. While this should have been Harry's movie - with the focus being on his character arc - we are distracted by this black thing that falls out of the sky. Somehow, a radioactive spider bite, biting a guy and turning him into Spiderman, we could understand. A guy falling into some kind of particle accelerator and becoming the Sand Man, we can even buy that. It's the back story. We can empathize with the characters, and we find the 'science' behind them believable, although fictional. But a meteorite that falls out of the sky and poops out a black blob that chases Peter around and consumes him with evil powers? What???

Obviously it fell while Peter and MJ were watching shooting stars. You don't have to explain the symbolism to me. I get it... Life is beautiful... look at the magical shooting stars... Out of no where comes this other personality, this creeping, slithering, all-encompassing darkness - this black as night, poisonous, aggressive, vengeful ego. Only, rather than just letting it be a part of Peter's imperfection that must be conquered, it's this sci-fi thing with no back story that falls out of the sky.

Once again, I get it. It's Spiderman, not a nonfiction novel. It's actually totally cool that his ego is represented in this way - and that it's transferrable to other ego-centric, power-hungry people around him like the photographer. It seems to have some effect on MJ too, who all of a sudden seemed ultra sensitive and self-involved (at least, it seemed out of her character to me - but then, she did get one bad review and had to turn to waitressing, after all the fame and success she won in the second movie). Yeah. That totally makes sense.

So yes... all of these elements were good. They weren't bad ideas.. I just think they could have been executed better. The only thing I could latch onto, or reflect on about the movie, was the sense of torment in each of their lives. To start with, the filmmakers should have addressed one more time Uncle Ben's warning, "with great power comes great responsibility." I think one more reminder of that would have set the stage in the first 20 minutes of the movie.

Instead, we see Peter in sublime happiness. There is so much focus on his pride and joy, and speaking with his Aunt about wanting to propose to MJ... All these are positive elements... so we forget about the ego, that maybe he's a little too proud, and we sympathize with him when we find out that MJ starts trusting Harry more than Peter (about losing her job). MJ was practically unapproachable for Peter. Why? Because he talked about himself all the time. BIG EGO. But, she also has a big ego as a star (remember her in the second movie?)... and, as an audience, we are so charmed by the good in Peter that we forgive when he kisses the police chief's daughter as a publicity stunt, and somehow we feel bad for him when MJ calls Harry and later kisses him. We don't focus enough on the negative effect of Peter's ego until he dons the black outfit.

And yes, the ending where Harry jumps in front of Peter is a surprise, although it makes some amount of sense. Again, we felt a lot of torment for Harry through his struggle to avenge his father, but turning back to his friendships in the end... This was another area of poor execution. Why, after being so angry, could Harry be so open to hear plainly (out of the blue, conveniently timed near the end) that when the butler cleaned his father's wounds, he could determine it wasn't Peter's fault??? Why hadn't the butler told him this before? True, Harry had been affected by amnesia for the first part of the movie, but it just seems too convenient that the butler chose to tell Harry this crucial fact just the moment that Peter is in danger. The butler himself isn't developed enough to consider the reason behind this choice.

In the end, on paper, after thinking about all these elements, this is really a fantastic story that unfortunately wasn't entirely believable for me. I just didn't buy it, especially with the voiceover at the end, the message of choice mopping up the remnants of good actors and good ideas that just weren't developed on screen enough. Maybe after this rant I can go back to it a second time and appreciate it more, understanding the intent. Until then, you can let me know what you thought!!!

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