Personally, I wasn’t that impressed by the first one. In the review that I wrote for my old website, I summarised it as run of the mill Hollywood schlock…with William Dafoe as “da foe”. Heh heh, da foe. And the second one was shit. Big metal octopus. Nonsense. So I didn’t have high expectations. Like so many films set in New York, I only watched it because of the New York bits. With Spider-man 3, my expectations were particularly muted because I was only in the cinema to kill a few hours while my wife was in an exam.
What’s it about? Sort of flying around a lot. A lot of general flying around, and hitting, and explosions. Namely explosions that occur within inches of a person’s face and which leave said person with no significant wounds whatsoever. Such as the explosion that goes off in Harry’s face. Later, when Spider-man goes to appeal for Harry’s help, he is taken aback by the burns on Harry’s face. Rather than being taken aback by the fact he even had a face left. Or, indeed, that he was still alive in the first place. The plot, to be honest, is the worst kind of summer blockbuster nonsense. Exposition is not Spider-man 3‘s strong point. Such as the bit when the police chief summons Parker and his aunt to the police station to tell them about the man who really killed his uncle. Why would he do that? Call in the officer who headed up the original police investigation, yes. But not the victim’s nephew. And the bit at the end where a lengthy TV news report appraises the audience of what’s been going on while we’ve been forced to sit watching Parker and Dunst variously crying, removing masks, crying again…just very, very lazy writing. Strikes me someone was happy to pay for CGI of a massive web at the top of some skyscrapers with a cab (and a MASSIVE truck) stuck in it, but wasn’t happy to pay for CGI showing how the fuck that ever happened. Why the MASSIVE truck? Aside from providing an endless barrage of cement blocks to rain down on the action occuring below it, and for providing an object that can ALMOST drop onto Dunst’s head, then suddenly get snared in the web and stop, then ALMOST drop again, then get snared, then ALMOST drop. Again, incredibly lazy writing, and very cheap bursts of tension.
Something else that strikes me now that I think back over the film…there were a lot of characters. Which was fine. I’m a bright boy, I can keep track of more than 3 people during the course of a film. But what did strike me was how pointless some of them were. Like the Sandman’s wife and kid. We only see them once. What’s the point? It’s not as if the fact he has a sick daughter has any real bearing on the plot. I liked the fact that when Parker pictures the Sandman killing his uncle, he pictures him wearing the clothes he was wearing during their first (and until then only) encounter a few minutes earlier. It was a nice touch, like someone had actually thought that through. What wasn’t thought through was the amount of singing Dunst did (a new contractual obligation, one wonders?). She’ll no doubt be headlining a big Broadway show soon.
I’m not even going to start on the genesis of Sandman…some inexplicable science experiment being performed in a hole in the ground at some ungodly hour. That’s just bollocks. Bollocks too was the bit where the grisly black glue stuff falls to earth and hitches a ride home on Parker’s moped. At the time I dismissed it, expecting some explanation before the end. None was forthcoming. Although it did present a villain with the strangest weakness ever – the sound of bells ringing. Or indeed scaffolding poles. Odd. And that bit where Harry forgets his desperate hatred of Spider-man because he gets a smack to the mush, and then remembers again whilst looking in a mirror. Actually, I meant to move on, but the sandman character still troubles me. He’s incredibly angry, for no discernible reason, and he seems to desperately want to kill Spider-man, for no discernible reason. However, having tried to kill him, he settles for a quick heart-to-heart and Spider-man’s forgiveness for killing his uncle. His main motivation is his sick daughter, a fact we’re endlessly reminded of by way of a pendant bearing her picture that Sandman carries everywhere with him. At the end, just when we expect some payoff for all this sick daughter stuff…he just fucks off. Just like that. I was left wondering why on earth his daughter was ever mentioned. I haven’t read the Spider-man comics, but I assume all this stuff is explained over many years worth of mythology. It’s presumably typical Hollywood arrogance that thinks it can bring all that to the screen in the space of 2 hours. Granted, it can and it does. But what we get is confused and often nonsensical.
But what annoyed me the most about Spider-man 3 was how much I found myself unwillingly and unwittingly having a really good time. The bit where Parker (all evil and cocksure) struts down a New York street finger-gunning every girl that passes him, that was brilliant. And, actually, the sheer enjoyableness of it all did rather belie how rubbish it was. Can I recommend it? Yes, I’m afraid I can. Whether you’re a pretentious “movie wanker” who only enjoys films nobody elses understands (or likes), a normal cinema-goer who’s just out for some mindless pap, or something falling inbetween (a normal cinema-goer who wants to like films nobody else understands or likes, but is too stupid to understand or like them), Spider-man 3 is, I’m appalled to admit, actually okay.