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Movie Review: Spider-Man 3 – Dear Sam Raimi…

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Dear Sam Raimi,

I hope you get this, because I really wanted to ask you — what went wrong, man?

I guess you probably don't care; the movie's making more money than anything ever has, and the sales of merchandise should make another fortune, but surely you've got to admit that it sucked?

And I think, deep down, that you really know that. Maybe you pushed the self destruct button: "Hey, I know, I'll make a crap third movie, and then I'll have my life back; I can kick the web-swinger out of my mind, and get on with Evil Dead 4 or maybe another movie with Bill Paxton and Billy Bob" – but I don't buy that. You're on to a good thing, right? And what else is there to work on — some movie about short dudes with hairy feet?

But Sam, you said there'd be no Venom. I remember it, a while back, you said you'd never do it. But then, in the movie, the Spider-Man 3 movie, he's there. Venom. The black-suited, snappy jawed thing. Except his face kept peeling back and that Topher Grace dude was in there (who was pretty good, I liked him in this). So we've got Venom, and then Sandman (nice job on not letting Thomas Haden Church act until the last five minutes of the movie by the way, was that one of your ideas too? You might as well have cast David Hasselhoff), and New Goblin (who I thought was pretty cool).

Even though you said there'd be no Venom, I could forgive you. I could, if you had actually managed to get that Tobey Mogwai guy and Kirsten Dunce to act. Maybe they couldn't remember what acting was; maybe all the money had clouded their minds or something? They should take a look at the second movie: the stuff that Alfred Molina's doing in that one: that's called "acting". The stuff that Tobey and Kirsten are doing here: that's not acting, that's sucking.

And that dance sequence! What were you thinking? Who told you that was a good idea? Having women check Peter Parker out in the street, just 'cause he's taken a leaf out of Johnny Cash's wardrobe, and started wearing his hair like someone out of My Chemical Romance? WHAT WERE YOU THINKING?!? I was ashamed to be in the cinema. I'd happily sit through Ghost Rider another three times to erase the memory of those sequences from my mind.

You turn J. Jonah into some kind of laughing stock, rewrite Spidey's origin story to better suit your movie (which was DUMB by the way – oh, and we're suppose to just accept that the "actually trying to do right by my daughter" Sandman would pair up with the "actually, want to kill everyone 'cause I'm evil" Venom?), waste James Cromwell and Theresa Russell, and bore the living bejesus out of me for over two hours.

And what was the point of Gwen Stacy? Other than to give you a new love interest when Dunce decides she's not coming back for another movie. Although if you ask me, she didn't really come back for this one: she looked like she really wanted to be somewhere else; somewhere far, far away (much like I did, at times). Oh, and Bryce Dallas Howard — much cuter than Kirsten Dunce. I can't help but think she'd have made a better MJ. At the very least Bryce looks like she's pleased to be in the movie; Kirsten just looks embarrassed. Does she not like being a redhead, Sam?

"But Dan", you ask, "surely you enjoyed my CGI-tastic fight sequences?" Um… no. The first one, with Harry and Peter, that was cool. I enjoyed that one. The Sandman effects — also cool. And, I'll admit, I enjoyed the big finish — that construction site scrap with Mega-Sandman and Crappy-Venom. But why'd you have to go an insult everyone's intelligence with a flashback to the church bell during the finale? Not cool. And why'd you have to take a) so long to get to the end, and b) so long to actually end the Goddamn movie?

I can't hold it all against you though; getting Bruce back was inspired. The Monty Python turn he does here — magnifique! I want a director's cut of this movie, that just has the CGI, Bruce sequence, and the Ted Raimi sequence (minus the cringe-worthy sending up of JJ). That might make a good movie.

Sam, Sam, Sam. I say this one word to you now: "STOP!" Hang up the Spidey-suit. Walk away. Go make Evil Dead 4, or some new horror movie with virtually no budget. Hell, make The Hobbit, that'll at least be a major change from this gig.

But maybe that was your plan all along?

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About Dan

  • katie luke

    personally, i liked hte action but i didnt like hte plot outside of the action

  • katie luke

    yeah i didnt really like hte whole my chemical romance look either

  • http://spatulaforum.blogspot.com/ Nik

    Hell hath no fury like a fanboy scorned.

    Me, I liked the movie just fine.

  • http://sterfish.blogspot.com Sterfish

    I haven’t seen this yet but a recent interview with Raimi pretty much blamed Venom and Gwen Stacy on the movie’s producers. His original story supposedly only had Harry and Sandman as villains and the producers wanted him to appeal to the fans by adding Venom and Gwen Stacy.

    This is the second superhero franchise in two years where the third movie is a letdown after the superior second movie (X-Men is the other one). Maybe that means that Fantastic Four: Rise Of The Silver Surfer has a chance to be awesome.

  • http://www.maskedmoviesnobs.com El Bicho

    “You turn J. Jonah into some kind of laughing stock”

    Sounds like you never read the comic unless you thinking JJJ sitting in some webbing and getting stuck in his chair had deep existential meaning about man’s place in the universe. In the films, he’s been straight out of a ’30 screwball comedy.

    S3 wasn’t as terrible as you make and considering you went to see Ghost Rider, your judgment regarding films is in question. That and your lame decision to refer to Kirsten as “Dunce.”

    Admit it. You’ll go see Spider-Man 4 regardless, so why exactly should he listen?

  • http://www.minewastaller.com/ Ian Woolstencroft

    Jonah in the comics is certainly on occasion a figure of fun but he’s not “straight out of a ’30 screwball comedy” as you say he is in 3. Can you see the Jameson of this film funding the Spider-Slayer? He’s totally one-dimensional and a waste of a talented actor.

    Spider-Man 3 was far from a good film and made all the worse by the high expectations generated by the first two.

    Referring to Dunst as Dunce seems pretty accurate as she certainly acted like one. She was wrong for the part from the start but the other films were so good they compensated for it, this one makes it all too apparent that she’s just there for the money. Don’t get me wrong in the right part Dunst is a good actress, this just isn’t the right part.

    And re Ghost Rider – going to see a film is never a sign that ones judgement is in question, just that you have an open mind. Or are you trying to make yourself out as a cinephile and rank Spider-Man 3 alongside the works of Kurosawa and Fellini?

    Just because someone doesn’t agree with you doesn’t make them wrong, nor does it make you wrong. If everyone agreed about films there’d be no need for reviews and this site wouldn’t exist.

    I’m sure Daniel (like myself) would indeed go and see Spider-Man 4 in the hopes it got the series back on track. That doesn’t detract from the mistakes made here or wanting the filmmakers to learn from them.

  • http://www.istherefood.com Daniel Woolstencroft

    El B – Maybe the Dunce thing was a cheap shot, but I stand by my view that it’s her and Maguire that let the film down most.

    JJJ is a total joke here, just not a very amusing one.

    I’m deeply curious about the Ghost Rider comment though: simply because I decided to make my own mind up about something, my judgement is in question? So I’m supposed to become some sort of simple minded drone, who only goes to see what the critics tell me to see? No thanks.

    Yeah, I’ll go see Spidey 4; I went to see Ghost Rider, Hills 2, and all those other movies that I thought would suck – but hoped wouldn’t – after all.

    Sterfish – I thought as much. The money men say jump, and sadly Raimi didn’t put up much of a fight.

    Hope you enjoyed the review folks, it was a bit of fun, after all.

  • http://www.maskedmoviesnobs.com El Bicho

    Ian, the JJJ from the movies is not the same from the comics. That Raimi is accused of turning him into a joke now is a couple of films too late as he is the same from S1.

    S3 was not that far from a good film. It had a lot going for it and tried to do more than most studio films, so I am surprised at the amount of backlash it’s getting. Viewing it through your expectations is rather unfair and misguided. Why should all involved be punished for their previous successes? I made no claims that it belongs in the pantheon of world cinema, and doubt I will watch it again or buy the DVD like I did the first two, but I know going into a Hollywood production not to have high cinematic standards.

    “this one makes it all too apparent that [Kirsten]’s just there for the money.”

    As opposed to who? Was there someone on the cast or crew who worked for free or donated their paycheck to charity? That’s a ridiculous charge as everyone was in it for the money. Besides MJ barely said more than “Hi, Tiger” for the first 300 issues, so what is the well developed character she is supposed to be playing?

    In regards to GR, if you went to see that film in the theaters, I hope you enjoyed it, but your judgment certainly is in question. Maybe they do it differently on your side of the pond but February is a dumping ground for films, usually a sign that the studio has no faith in it. You can’t trust Cage’s judgment in picking acting roles anymore, and from the trailer it sounded like he was doing his Sailor/Elvis voice. Plus, it was written and directed by MS Johnson, the man who ruined Daredevil.

    That’s three strikes. No critic had to tell me what a mess it was. There was nothing compelling about it from the start and I would argue the drones were the ones who went based on the title and their memories of the comic. It sounds like it’s only worth stumbling by while flipping channels, if that.

    I can understand your frustration in not getting the film you wanted, but since you both are already going to see Spidey 4, again I ask why should Raimi or the studio listen? What’s their incentive? It’s not financial since you already plan on buying a ticket, which is the only thing Hollywood would react to. What you need to do is call for a boycott and actually mean it. Wishing it would get better won’t accomplish anything.

    Would I like to see a better story next time? Absolutely. Do I have any hope it will after the records it set this week around the world. Not at all.

  • http://www.minewastaller.com Ian Woolstencroft

    I disagree about Jonah. In the first film he was almost a perfect representation of the comic, the second pushed him too far towards comedy and by the third he might as well be in a (bad) Marx Brothers film. And make your mind up please, one minute you’re pointing to Daniel’s comments about JJJ and saying “sounds like you never read the comic” and now you’re saying he’s not the same as the comics. It sounds like he “is” or “isn’t” like the comics depending on if it suits the point you’re making.

    Just because it’s a big summer movie doesn’t mean we should accept substandard films. Why should it be compared to the first two films? Two reasons – it’s the next film in the series and Spider-Man 2 showed how to do it right. You seem to be suggesting it’s OK to make crap sequels because the first film was great, “you did it once don’t bother trying next time”.

    As for Dunst, of course all the actors are there for the money but that doesn’t mean you don’t bother acting at all. Dunst when she’s onscreen seems to be there in body only (her mind was probably thinking about what to spend all those millions on). At least Maguire is trying to do something, even if what he’s doing is pretty aweful. The comment about MJ’s character in the comics might be valid if it was true.

    Re Ghost Rider – the film made a lot of money which could lead one to believe that it wasn’t as bad as critics said. You’re also assuming that everyone feels the same way about Daredevil as you do, when in fact the film (particularly the Director’s Cut) is quite well regarded.

    The other thing you seem to have missed is that this isn’t really a letter to Sam Raimi, it’s a review done in the form of a letter. He’s trying to do something a little different from the hundreds of other reviews out there for this film. So why should Raimi take any notice? He shouldn’t, no more than he would to any negative review anyway. And yes we could boycott Spidey 4 but if we don’t go and see it how will we know if it’s good or bad?

    And it may have set records but will it set another one for the biggest drop off? I doubt it but I live in hope.

  • http://www.noface4film.com Kaonashi

    I don’t read the comics, so I can’t use it as a comparison. But I do know that this was a disappointing and poorly made film. The acting was horrible (especially by Kirsten and Tobey), the lines were cheesy, and many scenes were stupid (i.e. the dragged out “emo Peter” scenes). Venom was a big waste of screen time, especially since most of the time we just kept seeing Topher Grace’s face pop through the mask. Even Spider-Man wasn’t out of his mask that often. Gwen Stacy was completely unnecessary.

    If they had just focused on the Peter/Harry story, it would have been a better movie. Even if they had a Venom subplot in the Peter/Harry story, it would have been tolerable. But the Sandman, New Goblin, Venom, and a bitchy MJ? Too many cooks spoiled the pot, IMO. This sort of thing may work out in comic books, where multiple story lines can be juggled and stretched out for many issues. But you can’t squeeze a bunch of stories in one movie. Certain elements are weakened, like character or plot development.

    I don’t know what happened. Spider-Man 2 was really good, and the first movie was not bad as well. This was one big disappointment.