Monday, 15 October 2007

DVD: Spider-Man 3

Lowdown: The biggest enemy is the bad side inside us all. Or something like that.
Aside of being a rare case of a sequel being better than the original, Spider-Man 2 was, I can safely say, by far the best superhero film I have ever watched. Not that I am an expert or a superhero fan; I just thought it did a good job portraying the tormented hero. Obviously, this puts a heavy burden on Spider-Man 3. So heavy the burden is that episode 3 simply cracks under the pressure. Not that it's a bad film; I actually liked it.
This time around, we start with a spider-man whose success is taken for granted: he's popular and he has his girl by his side. Alas, by weird chance, the type of chance that can only happen in stupid films, three things happen at the same time: his old friend that turned on him for killing his father in episode 1 loses his memory and becomes Spider-Man's friend again - but for how long?; then you got this special goo that falls from the sky directly on Spider-Man and turns him into an even more powerful superhero but a dark one at that; and then you find out that the person who killed Spider-Man's uncle in episode 1 was not the person we thought he was but rather someone else, and that someone else just happens to stumble into a weird experiment which turns him into a sand made superhero (don't ask).
Spider-Man 3 pits our favorite superhero against all of these issues at the same time, which poses a few problems. First, there's the issue of extreme coincidences; they are just too extreme here: The goo falls on Spider-Man, of all people. The sandman superhero just happens to be Spider-Man uncle's killer. And the lady competing for Spider-Man's heart happens to study with Spider-Man (in his day job as Peter Parker), happens to be the daughter of the grateful police chief who organizes a city parade for Spider-Man when she's saved, and happens to be the girlfriend of a competing photographer for the Daily Bugle who just happens to catch Spider-Man in a bad moment. I can understand a world in which superheros exist, but so many coincidences in such a pivotal position for the film are a tough stretch.
Then there's the problem of cramming too many subplots into one film, which just means the film loses its plot. I can understand where the director is coming from: through repetition, he wants to show that the biggest enemy of good is the bad side within and that forgiveness and understanding are the key for a happy life. But as good as his intention is, it just doesn't work that well. The scenes in which Spider-Man turns bad under the goo's influence are too much on the stupid side of things, looking more like scenes from Saturday Night Fever and obviously interrupting the suspension of disbelief. They are funny though - my choice for the most memorable scenes in the film.
A film like Spider-Man is not meant to be a thinking person's film, even if that is what sets the series apart from its superhero genre competition. What should have taken the lead are the great action sequences, and indeed they are great. It is a pity, though, that they rely so much on CGI they look more like cartoons; it just doesn't cut it anymore, and I'm tired of this arms race for creating the best computerized animation around.
Still, with all of its problems, Spider-Man 3 is a decent superhero film that delivers a good point and some high octane action scenes. With the stupidly executed "bad side" scenes, it is also some sort of a weird comedy.
Best scene: Peter Parker tries to propose to his girl in a French restaurant. The scene is so foolishly done and so full of French cliches I had to like it.
Picture quality: Very good, with very minor issues of color inconsistencies.
Sound quality: Excellent. In addition to being a tight sound effects laden film, the music is very well recorded here. The jazz club scenes' music is so well recorded you could have mistaken it for a proper live music recording as opposed to a compressed, heavily mixed movie soundtrack.
Overall: I liked it despite its deficiencies. 3 out of 5 stars.

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