When does a comic book movie become too comic-book-y? When does the incessant cheese in a film start attracting rats? Both good questions, but not better than this one: what happened to Spider-Man 3?
The first film set the stage and introduced us to the world of Peter Parker, although this film had plenty of cheese as well. The second film gave us a serious character drama wrapped up into an exciting comic book movie. The third film gives us a series of blockbuster special effects sequences and one dance number strung together by a lackluster, trying-too-hard story in the effort of passing all this off as a “film.” Sorry, Mr. Raimi, it just didn’t work.
I was turned off from the film right from the opening title sequences. They were cool, but uninspiring and all-too-familiar like we’ve seen them before in the previous two films. In fact, the beginning portion of the credits listing the main stars was, more or less, a fusion of the titles for the first two films. Nifty effects, but dripping of been-there-done-that. About half-way into the sequence, we shift pace, and we see a bunch of black ooze, the stuff that we know will turn Spidey into evil Spidey. It just kind of crawls around not inspiring at all.
These visuals are backed up by the only sound on the screen the music. Danny Elfman, the composer for the first two Spider-Man films, wrote fantastic music for the title sequence and the rest of the films. He and director Sam Raimi had a fued over music in Spider-Man 2, so Elfman left the series after that film. Enter Christopher Young, someone who is NO Danny Elfman. Young trying to work with Elfman’s music is like a a hot dog trying to taste like a lobster. It just doesn’t work. Elfman’s title sequence music channeled through Young sounds as uninspired as the black ooze sequence looks. The instrumentation is lacking, and the excitement and driving percussion apparently left with Elfman. The first and third portions of the music in the title sequence are interpolated Elfman themes; the second portion is Young’s work. Fine on its own, but it holds no water compared to Elfman’s original music. Young’s themes are too simplistic in comparison to Elfman’s more complex musical endeavors. Furthermore, the music in linear form is at best a holed, beat-up patchwork of mush painfully obvious where Elfman ends and where Young begins.
So enough about the music, yes? Well for a film music fan, this is what we listen for. Music, for me, makes or breaks a film. The music in the rest of the film didn’t necessarily break the film, but it sure didn’t save it from the numerous faults (although there was a really cool rendition of the Spider-Man theme done with a dark male choir during the church scene). As mentioned earlier, the story was not much of a story. I fear that Raimi is going the way of George Lucas and concentrating too much effort on special effects rather than fleshing out the meat of the film in storytelling and character development. The new characters we’re introduced to in this film were far too underdeveloped, and Peter and M.J. seemed out of character and, frankly, unlikable in several scenes.
The special effects were ok in some places, and obviously fake in others. The fake-ness was most obvious at the end when we see the Sandman dissolve one last time (don’t worry, I’m not giving anything away). The effects were off in this film, too easy to tell real from computer-generated.
Two final thoughts: apparently no one on the writing staff could think of anything better to do in fight sequences than drop people off buildings. One or two people don’t fall; try four or five. Think of something else to do! And finally, a dance number should never EVER be in a Spider-Man film. Period.
Yes, this film was a comic book movie. But looking at films such as Spider-Man 2 and Batman Begins, there are comic book movies that are serious enough to make a great film. This film just took itself too seriously and ended up being seriously bad.