It brings me no pleasure to write this review, I assure you. I've been watching the Spiderman 3 trailers with great interest, and I got goosebumps from the two-minute preview that ran at iMax when I went to see 300. I even have fond (though vague) memories of reading the comic book as a kid. But even though I know Sam Raimi's pre-summer blockbuster will open at around $150MM this weekend (and critics will fawn over the special effects), it's not enough to convince me this was a film worth sitting through.
I attended Monday night's premiere of Spiderman 3 (sponsored by Columbia Pictures and the Tribeca Film Festival) in Queens, New York, where much of the film had apparently been shot & set. But even admist the energy of the red carpet, I found very little about which to be excited.
The first two iterations (2002 & 2004) were entertaining and visually spectacular, and I forgave the writers for their playful cheesiness -- after all, it is true to the nature of the comic book, and the film skews a bit younger with its PG-13 rating. But the script -- particularly its dialogue -- are unredeemable this time around, even when offset by the $300 million worth of special effects & CGI. It was a major mistake not to invite back Pulitzer winner Michael Chabon (Amazing Adventures of Kavalier and Clay) to the writing staff of Spiderman 3 -- the absence of a cohesive storyline was duly noted by all.
The cameos from Stan Lee (Marvel Comics founder) and Bruce Campbell (B-actor and longtime friend of director Raimi) are, like the rest of the film, tangential and superfluous at best. Spidey's one-liners fall flat each time he attempts to deliver, and James Franco (the unconvincingly evil nemesis) elicited actual laughter from the audience while trying to deliver his more serious lines. Kirsten Dunst, reprising her role as Mary Jane "MJ" Watson, whines her way through every scene, and is a terrible romantic lead to the gee-whiz-kid Tobey Maguire.
The most anticipated part of the film was by far the introduction of Venom, Peter Parker's dark alter-ego. But this "evil" version of Peter Parker -- the one donning the mysterious black Spiderman outfit beneath his normal clothes -- is not so much evil as he is, um, funky. Once he's taken over by what we suppose is an otherworldly, malignant entity, Parker becomes a finger-gun-toting, fast-talking, jazz-dancing cool guy who calls girls "babe" and guys "pops." It was like watching your ninth grade chem teacher rap about the table of elements to pique your interest, when all he really did was embarrass himself and distance the gap between teens and adults.
I could go on. And on. I could talk about how the audience groaned whenever Aunt May spoke, or how Flynt "Sandman" Marco looked like an extra from The Untouchables. But the mere thought of tackling all the movie's faults (oh, dear, the shoddy editing! the Danny Elfman score!) is exhausting. Instead, I'll simply warn you away, and urge you to wait for the DVD (which will likely hit your local video store by the end of June) so you can skip through the scenes in which the cast members attempt to act.