Sunday, May 27, 2007

Movie Review: Spiderman 3

It isn’t good when Hubs and I come out of the movie theater talking about what went wrong with the movie we’ve just seen.

Spiderman is not my favorite comic book superhero. But I really enjoyed the Spiderman movies. Tobey Maguire became one of my favorite actors. And I enjoyed Kirsten Dunst as Mary Jane Watson and James Franco as Harry Osborn. After Spiderman 2, I was really looking forward to seeing Spiderman 3. How would the characters change and grow? Would Mary Jane find success on Broadway? Would she be able to share Peter with New York City? How would Peter juggle his job as Spiderman, pay the rent, and attend classes?

So Hubs and I were both very disappointed with the new Spiderman 3, but we couldn’t really figure out why until this morning.

“It had no energy,” I said.

“That’s it!” agreed Hubs.

Spiderman 3 suffers enormously in part because I saw it after watching Pirates 3. Where Pirates 3 was barely controlled chaos, Spiderman 3 was monotonous. Everybody cries in this movie, at some point. Mary Jane and Peter need to learn to talk to each other and have to develop a vocabulary to do so—especially since their relationship really involves three “people”: Mary Jane, Peter, and Spiderman. They can’t—and don’t, really—figure it out.

And then there was the whole other photographer plot: Eddie Brock (Topher Grace) is vying for Peter’s job and he’s dating a hot chick who has a part-time job modeling who happens to be Peter’s lab partner and whose dad happens to be the chief of police. She’s also not very bright (although she’s also not totally stupid, thank God). Now, in my University experience, once you get into upper-division science classes, which it certainly looked like Peter’s was, you had to be fairly smart. Or you flunked, simple as that. So what was she doing in Peter’s physics class?

Okay, it’s the little things that get me.

Unlike Pirates, Spiderman is set in a world more closely recognizable as our own. “Magic” is replaced by a form of science just beyond the cutting edge of current research and we suspend our belief just enough to embrace the idea that maybe a radioactive spider could transmit its characteristics to an adolescent male through a bite. But the rest of the Reel Life World is supposed to match pretty closely with Real Life on the other side of the screen.

I had a difficult time entering Reel Life this time. I wanted to cheer for Spiderman and Mary Jane, but I had a difficult time doing so. I wanted to feel Peter Parker’s angst, or Harry’s, but I was almost more embarrassed, rather than sympathetic.

The sad part is that the movie didn’t miss summer blockbuster greatness by much. A tweak here and there would have made this a decent summer movie. But the movie lacks not just energy, but also a sense of fun. The movie feels like it was made from more of a sense of obligation, rather than a sense of story.

I’m kind of glad that Sam Raimi, the director, Tobey Maguire, and Kirsten Dunst have said they are not coming back. Nor should they, unless there is a grand, compelling story.

On the March Hare scale: 2.5 out of 5 Golden Tickets