Monday, February 16, 2015

SAM RAIMI'S SPIDER-MAN 3

Well, now that I finished reviewing the first two Spider-Man films by Sam Raimi, which were both really fun and action-packed light hearted Superhero movies, that did a wonderful job at bringing the Web-Slinging hero justice, it's now time we head towards the 3rd and final chapter of the Raimi trilogy, and that of course is the infamous Spider-Man...



This is the film that many people are mixed about. While many people flat out despise the film, the people who do like the film, do think it's the weakest in the trilogy. So it seems that whether people seem to like or hate this film, the result is usually (If not always) it wasn't as good as the first two. While I've stated before that I do like the film and have made fun of the problems with the film before, I'm going to review the film anyway, and tell you what I think are the good things to appreciate from the movie, and tackle on the bad things that many critics and fans have tackled on before just with my personal two cents.

After the events of the 2nd movie, things are now going extremely well for Peter. However, a meteor from outer Space crashes near Peter, and the black venom from the meteor attaches itself on to Peter and makes him powerful, while also making Peter unleash his dark side, or should I say his emo side (Will get to that soon!). As Peter for THE THIRD TIME struggles with his powers, he has to fight off a vengeful Harry, who has now become the new Goblin; as well as fighting off The Sandman and Venom. Oh, and just for the record, Peter and Mary Jane are still having relationship issues. I want to make one thing perfectly clear! I DON'T think the film is a cluttered mess! There's a pointless character and subplot to the story, but as a whole, it is in my personal opinion, not a cluttered mess, since the characters for the most part are actually juggled really well. My real problem with the plot is it's following the same exact formula as the first two movies. While the 2nd film had pretty much the same formula as the first film, it was not only executed perfectly, but it needed half of the stuff that was going on in the first film to move the story and characters forward. Here, after seeing the formula done in the last two movies, it just feels worn and tired out, as well as being very predictable. There's really no twist or surprises, you can pretty much point out and compare the similarities in most of the scenes in this film, to the scenes in the first two films.

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Tobey Maguire plays our hero for the third and final time, and while still fitting the character, as well as keeping the nerdy side to Peter, and the fun heroic side of Spider-Man; when he struggles with his new Spider suit and lets out his inner demons, that's where his performance, along with the writing and directing fail. Toby Maguire did a great job in the last two films capturing the emotional struggle of being a hero; and using the classic "Alien Costume" story sounds like a great idea of taking his performance to the next level, but the decisions that the director and the Producers made, sadly made the story fall flat. When Peter starts letting out his anger, at first, it looks promising, especially with his personal vendetta against the Sandman. That little subplot is carried out just as well, as his vendetta with the thug who he thought killed his Uncle in the first film. However, after his fight with the Sandman, that's where everything goes down hill. Instead of looking both badass and tormented, he decides to completely change his image by combing his hair down, wearing black, and I'm sure he's wearing some type of black make-up on his eyes, which turns him into the infamous emo Peter. When I saw him trying to act cool, intimidating, and badass, I started to burst out into laughter. There's no way in hell that you can make a character who's geeky and fun in the last two films, become a tough, cool, and hip emo badass. To make things even worse about him being emo and badass is half of the time; it's played out for over the top comedy. The infamous scenes with him dancing in the street, and him dancing at the Jazz club in front of Mary Jane, man did that totally kill any type of struggle or emotion that I felt from the character as he's being consumed by the venom. The first two films did have some silly and over the top moments too, but the majority of them fit; this was really pushing it to the point where the emotion and respect you had for our hero becomes unintentionally laughable and insulting. Oh, and just for the record about Peter whenever he wears the Alien suit, while cool and a lot more intimidating than emo Peter,  I was really disappointed that we hardly ever see any of the new powers he gets from the venom.


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Now we move on to the relationship between Peter and Mary Jane (Played again by Kirsten Dunst), and this was the last straw to this teasing relationship. In the first film, it was tolerable. In the second film, it started to get annoying, but it still fit with the story of Peter's stress. Here, I'm fed up and can't stand it any longer. Much like the second film, it started out ok, despite the fact that I'd tell Peter to ditch the girl for toying with his emotions in the second film, after telling him that she "knew all this time" about Peter's secret identity. I was at first interested in Mary Jane's falling career as an actress, and how she felt about Peter now getting all the glory as Spider-Man, but after when Peter kisses a forced and pointless film version of Gwen Stacy who is just there as a teasing obstacle between Peter and MJ's relationship, that's where things start getting under my skin during their relationship. The many times Peter messes around with MJ's emotions as he willingly kisses and dates this bland and pointless film extra that manages to get a few lines and screen time is just despicable and annoying on Peter's side of the relationship! On MJ's side of how she messes with Peter's emotions in the relationship, she breaks up with Peter, because Harry threatens to blackmail her if she doesn't! Does she have amnesia, HE'S FREAKING SPIDER-MAN; he takes on Super Villains all the time! How dumb can this character get?! Of course, you can't have Mary Jane not get captured in the trilogy, and she obviously does in the climax, though I give her credit for saving Spider-Man on one small occasion during the climax, its better then just making her lye on Venom's web helpless. However, when the two obviously get back together in the end, I didn't feel that their relationship has gotten any stronger nor has improved. Hell, I didn't even feel like Peter manned up when the film ended, in fact, he cries more in this film, than did in the last two films, which is kind of pathetic. In the second film, while emotionally stressed over his powers and relationship, he for the most part kept his tears and anger inside of him, which makes you feel the torment and pain he's going through, when here, he cries like a baby, rather than manning up or trying to hold back his tears and emotions like in the second film, which is a major step backwards!


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Now we finally move on to the villains, starting with Harry Osborne as the New Goblin (Played once again by James Franco), who's story arc is the ONLY reason why the second film needed a continuation. Yeah, when you think about it, aside from Harry thinking about avenging his Father’s death as the New Goblin, there wasn't a need to make a third movie. You could make the argument that the second film already did have a perfect ending to the Raimi films. While the scene of Harry in the second film discovering his Father's secret lair was intended as an excuse for a 3rd installment in the Raimi Spider-Man films, the scene never really says that he's going to become the New Goblin. It actually feels more like a scene for the viewers to interpret for themselves, if Harry is going to avenge his Father's death or not, after discovering that his Father was The Green Goblin who killed dozens of innocent people. As much as I would like to see a third film (Which that film of course is the film that I'm currently reviewing) I wouldn't mind if the Raimi films ended after the second film. The only thing that I would wonder about is if Peter and Harry made up or not, which again, I wouldn't mind being left for our interpretations. Getting to how he's portrayed as the New Goblin in the third film that does exist, he's actually a really cool villain. He's tough, intimidating, and fun; carries all the cool deadly gadgets that are now updated; he’s cunning and quick; and you can feel the same amount of determination that the character felt in the first two films. I also like that when the character loses his memory, we see him and Peter as close friends again, which is quite nice. While he'll obviously get back his memory, the conclusion to Peter's relationship with Harry is done emotionally well, even though I still prefer the ending of Harry's story arc being left for our interpretation.

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Next we have The Sandman (Played by Thomas Haden Church) who is a criminal with Sand Powers, and this is a character and story arc, that I'm very mixed about. First off, I do like that he's a sympathetic character with an interesting and tragic back story of taking up a life of crime, to steal enough money to save his sick and dying daughter; and Church really does carry out his character’s emotions. With that said, the daughter only gets one scene; the reason why he took up crime as his only option to save his daughter’s life is never explored; and his story arc feels very incomplete, since we don't know if his daughter's ever going to be alright, nor does it look like that he's going to stop robbing banks with his new Sand Powers. I know, I just talked about Harry becoming the Green Goblin being left for our interpretations in the end of the second film, but here, it just doesn't feel finished, nor do I think Raimi was ever going to bring him back if he made a fourth film. The scene when The Sandman gets his Sand Powers, while annoyingly flawed such as why didn't the cops shoot him down while they were chasing after him; or how the hell a Scientist could assume that a big change in the mass could be just a tiny bird as opposed to being a man or an animal, without checking before starting whatever science experiment that involves mutating sand, is still a very emotional scene, with the music, directing, and the CGI (I'll talk more about the CGI later). Another thing that has me mixed about The Sandman in this movie is the fact that he's the actual guy who killed Uncle Ben. While leading to an interesting rivalry between Peter and The Sandman, which has an emotional moment when the two come face to face in the climax, it didn't feel needed. The murder of Uncle Ben and the pain that Peter felt about not being able to save him, which leads to Peter telling Aunt May the truth about his responsibility for not saving him, who is at first upset, but then forgives Peter, while giving a great monologue about heroes, which gives Peter some closure and understanding about himself as a hero, was a perfect way to end Peter's guilt about not saving Uncle Ben. There was no need for having a surprise twist to something that was already set in stone. I do enjoy some of the aspects and ideas to The Sandman in this film, but it was best to have not included him at all.


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Our final villain is Venom (Played by Topher Grace). I honestly didn't think Topher Grace was bad as Eddie Brock. In my opinion, the stuff that he was given to work with is done really well, and I actually think he does fit the character. However, the scene with him preying in Church to ask God to kill Peter is way beyond stupid. When he does become Venom, that's when his performance and character fails. While putting up an exciting fight, as well as looking awesome in his Venom form when we don't see the actors real face, he not only gets very little screen time as Venom, but he sucks as a villain. His evil scheme is killing Peter and his girlfriend with the Sandman, which is nothing new or original! He also doesn't have any cool powers, and instead of seeing him in his full Venom form throughout the climax, we mostly see his human face whenever he talks, which is far away from being menacing or threatening. Raimi wasn't planning on putting Venom in the movie, but since Sony forced him to put Venom in, he did, but what we got sadly was a forced let down portrayal of a great villain.


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As for the supporting characters, some are a hit and miss. JK Simmons is still die hard hilarious as Jameson; and Rosemary Harris still brings the same humble and innocent charm to the character of Aunt May. I also love that we not only get more screen-time of Dr.Curt Connors, but we actually see him help Peter. I even like that Peter's landlord who was a jerk in the second film, starts to take a liking to Peter. I also love spending time with the people who work at the Bugle throughout the course of the three films. Oh and as for Bruce Campbell's cameo as a waiter, he's just as funny as he was as the host of the Wrestling match, and the obnoxious Usher from the first two films. However, there are still characters that are pointless, or characters that we've seen throughout the films, that become important at the last minute. The landlord's daughter in both this film and the last film is a pointless bore; Gwen Stacy as I mentioned earlier on in the review, is a forced obstacle in Peter and MJ's relationship; and Harry's butler, who we hardly ever spend time with or see, in the last two movies, now suddenly becomes important. Without giving anything way, lets just say Peter could have easily have done what the Butler did that was so important.


TIME-OUT! TIME TO PLAY, WHERE IS STAN LEE?

Uhhh, his cameo is so forced in, that I'm just going to show you the image!
Image result for Spider-Man 3 Stan lee

Thanks for not playing!

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If there's one major thing that the film got completely right, it's the visuals! I'm not even joking, the CGI and action in this movie, is better than the previous two movies. I'm not saying the effects and the action in the first two movies aren't great either, but this totally tops it! The CGI for when the venom consumes Peter or Eddie looks like the characters are actually being affected and taken over by this Alien ooze. When Eddie is in his full form as Venom without showing his actual face, is not only awesome looking, as I said earlier, but it looks so real and scary, that I can't picture another Spider-Man movie making Venom look just as awesome as he does here; that is in visual-wise! The scenes of Spider-Man Web-Slinging around New York City, don't look as computer generated as in the first two films, it actually looks legit on many occasions. Also, the first scene with Harry and Peter fighting for the first time, while you can tell on a few occasions when they're using CGI, for the most part, it looks like they're really coming after each other. For me, the best piece of CGI in the whole movie is the CGI for the Sandman. Every time I look at it, I always find myself being blown away at how much detail and effort went into making this villain. I mean this is like Gollum and T-1000 territory, that's how great it looks!  The action sequences in the movie are all cool and energetic, while keeping you on the edge of the seat, especially during the film's climax! However, and without giving anything away, what happens to the villains at the end is a complete joke. As for the music composed by Christopher Young, and the cinematography, it’s done just as great as the first two films.

Aside from the effects, the action, and a few interesting ideas, the film is sadly the weakest in the trilogy, due to the film's formula being way too predictable and tiresome; two of the villains being forced into the movie, as well as leaving one of the two with an incomplete story arc; idiotic writing; and over the top moments that push pass the limits that the first two films were able to get away with. However, as weak as the film is, I was still invested and entertained by the film, even though the result for the majority of the film was predictable and disappointing. Not one of the worst superhero movies I've ever seen, since it does have a few good things going for it, but it’s definitely not good either.

RATING 2/5

OVERALL ON THE SAM RAIMI SPIDER-MAN TRILOGY

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The first film, while very clunky at times was still both a really good Superhero film and an excellent take on Spider-Man. The second film was not only just as good as the first film, but was actually superior in so many ways. The third film, while not god awfully horrible as many people build it up to be, it has defiantly jumped the shark at times, and sadly made the series feel very tired-out since there was nothing new added to the formula; it was just basically the same story done a third time just with three different villains, and a new struggle with Peter's powers. Putting the 3 films together as a whole defiantly brings a lot of hits and misses. Tobey Maguire is perfect for the role of Peter Parker and Spider-Man, but sadly when the series ended, I didn't feel like his character manned up or moved forward, in fact the series kind of ends on a confusing depressing note, as opposed to seeing something upbeat as our hero become a better person. Kirsten Dunst as Mary Jane, while she's perfect for the role, her character for the most part sucks and the struggling romance between Peter and MJ just gets more and more annoying as the series went on, instead of being tragic and emotional. The villains in these films for many people are a mixed bag. I personally love Williem Dafoe's Green Goblin and Alfred Molina as Doc Ock, while others find them stupid and silly, and while I can understand why, I personally don't mind half of the silliness coming out of these villains. The villains that left me totally mixed are obviously Sandman and Venom; since they both had things going for them that was really good and really bad. The supporting cast such as Rosemary Harris, James Franco, Cliff Robertson, and JK Simmons all fit their roles so perfectly that it’s pretty difficult to see another actor replace them and do just as great of a job. The special effects, while decent in the first film, really have improved as the series went on, and once we've hit the final film that's where the CGI nearly becomes flawless. The films also had a great amount of really cool and on the edge of your seat action, and even the ones that do look a bit hokey, are still cool and fun to watch, due to how stylized it is. I also admire how the films manage to capture that comic-book feel with its style, edits, shots, costumes, art direction, effects and all that other good stuff. The films do indeed have a lot of silly and goofy moments, and while at times can go too far with it (Especially in the third film), the majority of humor and comical stuff in the first two films fit within its characters and comic-book world that the film's created. As for the drama and themes of being a hero, for the most part, it’s done well and effectively. The only time when it doesn't usually work is with Peter and Mary Jane, which for me started to get annoying in the second film, and when the third film happened, I lost faith and investment in their relationship that started out decent in the first film.  Also, the third film, as I stated in my review, does have some good emotional moments, but the majority of drama and emotion in the third movie are unintentionally silly, and corny as hell.

If Raimi just made the first two movies, I'd probably give the two Raimi films a 4/5 as a whole, mainly because a good amount of audiences would like to a see third film to know if Harry is going to get revenge on Peter, as opposed to leaving the audience to think for themselves. And I guess also the teasing relationship between Peter and Mary Jane, would be part of the reason too, but at the same time, at least the relationship in the two films, as annoying as it is, does connect really well to Peter's stress and responsibility of being a hero. However, since there is a third film that brought the series to its low point, thus making the trilogy a mix bag, its going to get the love or hate rating for its many hits and misses. I personally enjoy watching all three movies, but at the same time, I can pretty much do without the third film. If you haven’t seen the films (Especially 1 and 2), be sure to check them out, if you’re a Spider-Man fan, or not.

RATING FOR THE RAIMI TRILOGY 3/5

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