(If you’re curious, my review process is at the end of this post.)
(***all-purpose SPOILER ALERT*** there may be some in this review)
SW SCORE: 21
2 out of 5 🐙
I love Sam Raimi. I even liked Evil Dead. I loved Army of Darkness and Evil Dead 2 (I know, really unusual opinion, right?). I think Spider-man is great and Spider-Man 2 is the best comic book movie ever. I felt my favorite superhero was in safe hands.
But Sam Raimi, it turns out, is human.
Many film and/or comic geeks will remember the three-headed disaster the followed Tim Burton’s Batman (1989). Those three films (I’ll allow that Batman Returns was somewhat redeemable) became the case study for how to destroy a comic book franchise.
The warnings were simple: (1) Don’t change the main actor (2) Don’t increase the number of villains in every movie (3) Don’t hire Joel Schumacher (4) Don’t add a sidekick to every movie. There were other problems with that Batman tetralogy, but those were the main commandments.
Well, three out of four ain’t bad. It’s terrible.
I was really hoping that they would leave it to just Sandman and Harry Osborn (The new Green Goblin played by James “I couldn’t be more vanilla in this role” Franco). It’s not that he’s a bad actor. He’s a fine actor. I think his performance in 127 Hours is one for the ages. But he didn’t bring it in this flick. And he’s certainly not maniacal screen supernova like his character’s father, the original Green Goblin (played by the incomparable Willem Dafoe). In this case, the son’s acting performance fell very far from the tree.
But alas, Harry made the cut. I had no issue with the Sandman because he’s a f*cking cool villain and Thomas Hayden Church is a wicked actor. Also, with the level of CG today, I had no worries about the Sandman looking cool as hell on-screen.
But then they had to add a third baddie. I don’t know what executive told Sam Raimi to throw in a third villain. Raimi had to have seen what too many villains do to a comic book franchise. Movies have such a short amount of time to develop characters that adding another one is only going to cut the quality of all the characters. I hope and pray (to my God Stan Lee – who is given his customary cameo in this movie) that it wasn’t Raimi’s decision.
The first two Spidey entries were great because they spent the right amount of time developing two great villains (Doctor Octopus and the original Green Goblin) played by two great actors (Alfred Molina and Dafoe respectively). In this movie we get FOUR villains: Sandman, Green Goblin, and Venom, the alien symbiote we all know and love. They were all developed with better attention than any character in the Fast and Furious abominations, but the Spider-man franchise is held to a much higher standard.
I still don’t think Kirsten Dunst was a bad choice for Mary Jane Watson. She doesn’t look anything like the comic book character and her personality was cutesy where the character’s was vivacious. But the really ridiculous miscast was Topher Grace as Eddie Brock/Venom. This is like casting Ed Norton as The Incredible Hulk. Oh. Whoops.
The good: the effects were slick. They weren’t Lord of the Rings good, but they were nothing to be embarrassed about. I grew up on special effects and action flicks. I am a picky jerk. But whenever special effects were called for, they were mostly flawless. Venom’s musculature was the only effect that stretched believability but not because it looked fake but because we were supposed to believe it was an exaggerated version of Eric Forman’s willowy physique.
The fight choreography was high quality as well. But it lost impact as it was surrounded by a convoluted plot and some ridiculous choices: what in the world were they thinking when they decided to include a musical number? The resolution of the film was pop psychology pablum. The movie died-er-ended with a whimper.
(1) Shark Wrighter (SW) Score: Based on a sum of 5 sub-scores (acting, directing, writing/story, effects: cinematography &/or animation &/or effects, editing) with 1 being terrible and 10 being terrific.
(2) Octopuses (0-5 🐙, with 5 being fantastic and 0 being feces)
(3) Octopuses are my unquantifiable feeling…not that SW score is scientific…but this one is even less so
(4) ++ This optional section includes any incredibly *brilliant observations that don’t fit into simple quantitative slices like the scores and octopuses *(they are likely NOT brilliant)