Okay, first off, I only seen Spidermans 1 & 2. I have not seen anything between 1.1 and 1.9 or 2.1 through 2.9, any of these weird DVD special editions. So if I’m missing any info I apologize. But based on this limited theatrical knowledge I would have to say that the conventnerdal wisdom is probaly a little correct: Part 3 is more flawed than Part 1 or Part 2. But not by much. It is the same tone, same combo of boy-girl soap opera, cornball old fashioned comic book reverance for New York City and high-flyin’ CGI action. Only thing is in this one they are telling a more ambitious story (good) which is stitched together with some ridiculous coincidences and occasional bad ideas (bad).
For example, there is a black goo that falls from space which just happens to land right in the park where Spider-man is kickin it with his girl. Okay, admittedly the space goo may have been intentionally honing in on Spider-man’s powers, we don’t really know this. So I will let that one go. But when Tom Hayden Church is running from the pigs he just happens to climb over a fence into a science facility where, at that exact moment, scientists are about to do an experiment with sand which turns him into a sand monster. Admittedly, he did say earlier that he had bad luck, so that is sort of explained why that happens. So I guess I can let that one go too. But what about this. Eddie Brock happens to be in a church praying for God to kill Peter Parker at the exact moment Pete is yanking the evil space goo off of his suit up in the bell tower right above, so the goo falls on Eddie and turns him into a monster!? I mean what are the chances of that? The only way to explain it is that God was pissed that Eddie would defile the church with such a bullshit prayer, so He went Old Testament on him. Hmmm, actually I like that. Come to think of it, never mind, there are no coincidences, it’s air tight.
But what about Spider-man’s liberal attitude toward maintaining a secret identity? I know he’s always been kinda bad at it, but here he stands on a roof at a parade in his honor, wearing the suit with no mask. He allows all 3 villains to see his face and know who he is. He sits in the park out of his costume with his girl MJ using a super-spiderweb as a hammock. He even has an entire flying and web-shooting fight through New York City wearing a suit and tie and no mask. Hell, he can’t keep his suit in one piece anyway, and sometimes it turns him evil. I’m not sure why he even bothers anymore. Come out of the closet, dude.
The part comic book fundamentalists will burn the most effigies over, I bet, is where the goo gets ahold of Peter. Instead of turning him DARK and EEEEEEVIL like you might expect it gives him bangs and makes him a prick who thinks women love him. First there’s a scene where he struts around New York smiling at super models, a parody of SATURDAY NIGHT FEVER. I thought this is like something they’d pull in those corny old Super-man movies. Then comes the scene where, to piss off Mary Jane, he goes to the jazz club and interrupts her song with a piano solo and a super-powered evil chair dance (possibly a mating ritual from the Planet of the Evil Space Goo). Here I thought holy shit, Sam Raimi is trying to get fired from Spider-man. On the DVD it will be Chapter 22: Holy Shit, Sam Raimi Is Trying To Get Fired From Spider-man. I can see why most people would hate chapter 22, but it was so ridiculous and so “what the fuck” that I think I sort of liked it. You really need an evil piano solo to keep the audience on their toes.
Besides, comic strip fans are gonna hate this movie anyway, because it’s so different from the comics. I saw an issue once and in the comics he’s not even human, he’s a little pig named Peter Porker who turns into Spider-ham. I was surprised they never mentioned this in part 1 but geez, it’s been 3 movies now, they’ve had time to explain it. Those guys must be pissed.
The worst part of the movie to me is not a scene, its just one line. After a really fake looking but thrilling fight with his former best friend Harry (now using his dad’s Green Goblin equipment to try to kill Peter) Harry ends up in the hospital. This leads to a useless amnesia subplot, but oh well. The part I hate is when Harry tells his nurse, “My best friends. I’d give my life for them.”
Now, I’m not gonna give it away. I won’t tell you how I was able to decipher this line. But to me, personally, it gave a hint of how the movie was gonna end. And since it’s a good ending, the fitting way to resolve this trilogy, it would be nice to not have it announced 10 or 15 minutes into the damn movie.
But that brings me to what I like. The fights with Goblin Jr. are great. They are not just super hero fighting super villain. They’re also former friends, jealous rivals, and best buds getting pissed and trying to one-up each other. And their relationship changes throughout the movie. It’s not really like any other hero/villain relationship in these types of movies. They even get to team up at one point. Nice to see them pay off what they’ve been setting up in the other 2 movies.
I also liked The Sandman. He’s a cool special effects monster, also a likable lug. Thomas Haden Church in a striped shirt looks so much like a cartoon sailor it’s eerie. I couldn’t figure out if his mouth really looked like that or if it was movie magic.
Also, you got Space Goo Eddie, who is the lamest of the villains but still kind of cool. His motivation for hating Peter is that after he stole Peter’s job by cheating, Peter pointed out that he cheated. Boo fuckin hoo. Some super villains had their dad killed in a fight with Spider-Man, or Spider-Man stops them from stealing money they were gonna use to help their sick daughter. Maybe that’s why they need this guy Eddie: the other two villains are very sympathetic, you need one that’s just a complete dick. But at least he has a giant CGI mouth full of fangs, that’s cool.
They could’ve done a better job writing some of this shit, but I appreciated that they were trying for more. I like that they juggle a bunch of stories, it makes it feel different from the other two. The freshest thing about the movie though is the way it ends. You get the drift there pal, what I mean is HUGE SPOILERS COMING UP. See, most of the comic strip movies, they kill off the villain(s) at the end. That goes for most of the Batmans, the other 2 Spidermans, all 3 Blades I believe, even one of the Garfields. (just guessing.) In this one two die, but one of the two dies helping Peter, the other Peter actually saves but he is such a greedy prick he jumps back into the danger zone and gets blown to dust (actually I’m guessing he’ll be back, but I’m one a them conspiracy nuts). But the third one, the one that lives… Peter actually forgives and lets go. I’ve seen some nerds complaining about this, but fuck those guys. This is a brilliant touch for many reasons. 1. It’s something you hardly ever see in a movie. Usually the bad guy has got to die, or at least get busted. It’s not every day that the hero and villain come to understand each other and make peace. Original is good. 2. It’s actually a better solution to the problem. Sandman really is a well meaning individual. He is a sympathetic character. It is better for the world if he goes and helps his daughter than if Spider-man kills him. 3. (most important) The whole trilogy has been about Peter learning this lesson. He started his career as revenge for his Uncle Ben’s death, but his Aunt Grandma has been trying to teach him that revenge is a dish best not served at all, unless you’re some kind of huge asshole. In this scene Peter learns not to get revenge, he learns that he himself is a big asshole and he can’t exactly go around passing judgment on other people who do the same shit, and also he has just helped his best friend/worst enemy have a Darth Vader Redemption Moment so things are looking a little less black and white right now. So really this is the character and emotional climax of the entire trilogy, so if any of you assholes hated it because you’d rather see yet another villain fall off a building or get impaled, you really don’t deserve the effort these people are putting into these movies. Go watch GHOST RIDER.
Of course, it doesn’t hurt that this scene is reminiscent of the legendary bar/hand slap game/Cupcake scene from ON DEADLY GROUND (1996, d: S. Seagal). I almost yelled “I NEED TIME TO CHANGE!”
In conclusion, this movie is worse than the other two in some ways and better in other ways. Lots of interesting characters, great action scenes, good emotional climax, some sloppy writing and a weird tangent for the history books. When all is said and done I realize that actually I don’t like Spider-man that much. He’s no Blade. But these are three entertaining movies that fit together pretty well.
Anyway, trilogy done. Sam Raimi, please report to the woods.
VERN has been reviewing movies since 1999 and is the author of the books SEAGALOGY: A STUDY OF THE ASS-KICKING FILMS OF STEVEN SEAGAL, YIPPEE KI-YAY MOVIEGOER!: WRITINGS ON BRUCE WILLIS, BADASS CINEMA AND OTHER IMPORTANT TOPICS and NIKETOWN: A NOVEL. His horror-action novel WORM ON A HOOK will arrive later this year.