Hey I still kind of like Spiderman 3…
To say this is not the expected choice to end the blogothon on would be an understatement. Few films have been more maligned on a higher profile then Spiderman 3. Capped by the teeth grinding “Don’t let the door hit your ass on the way out after making us a couple billion dollars.” Treatment that Raimi got from Sony, Spiderman 3 seems likely to remain one of the most ignominious last acts to any major franchise. I compared the last entry in Raimi’s other trilogy to a victory lap. Spiderman 3 is more like a victory lap in which the engine explodes and cooks the driver alive.
But is it really that bad?
Certainly it’s a flawed film. One might even say it’s a film divided against itself with the Venom plot so painfully an obviously shoehorned in. It is obvious that Raimi really at no time gives half a crap about Venom. So lazily is the character presented that it never even refers to itself as we. Really all of the film’s problems, from its goofy humor (emo spidey) to its lazy plotting (“I dunno, a meteor drops nearby”) can be traced back directly to Raimi’s sheer disinterest in Venom.
So what do we have once we remove Venom from the equation? Well I’d argue it’s a pretty good movie. Not to mention one that despite the epic creatorial battles that he had in the making of it, reflect more of Raimi’s quirks as a filmmaker then either of the two previous entries.
It’s in the little things. The playfulness of the action sequences, the ring and crane one in particular, the sense that Raimi is a kid whose getting to play with the world’s greatest set of Spiderman toys ever. It’s in the love that Raimi has for the material. His compostions and storylines may not have been directly lifted from Ditko Romita era Spiderman, but it easily could have been. Might not seem much in the post Watchmen world but it’s still distinctive take on the material. It’s in the sense of humor. The Daily Bugle sequences harkens back to Raimi’s earliest his Three Stooges influences and the Bruce Campbell sequence down right abusive. An unrelenting tormentor out of one of Raimi’s high school shorts. Lastly it is of course in the horror Raimi brings to bear. Though Raimi’s horror movie imagery isn’t as potent as in Spiderman 2’s Operating scene, it is still present in the giant homunculi The Sandman Becomes. The way his face splits apart and then melts, making him monstrous. It’s in Harry’s Quasimodo like transformation and despite the disinterest he has in the character, the design of Venom goes admirably against the grain. Turning a liquid smooth character into something nightmarishly angular and sharp. And of course there is the Sandman’s haunting transformation, demonstrating perfectly the curse of the genre filmmaker. Had that sequence shown up in any art film it would be hailed as a piece of pure cinema. As is it’s disregarded as just another monster origin.
Say what you will about Spiderman 3, but it is not a film made by a filmmaker that is out of ideas or stories for these characters.
Yes there are other flaws. Knowing what we know now about Franco as a performer, it’s hard to look on his performance in this movie as anything but a weird ass kind of performance art. I mean come on...
And major sequences like the one fight between Harry and No Mask CGI Spiderman falls right smack dab into the middle of the uncanny valley.
Yet I cannot help but have a soft spot in my heart for this strange little movie. Which is why I chose to end with it, rather than one of the other more popular Spiderman flicks, or his “comeback” movie Drag Me To Hell. Who else but Raimi would stick himself so far out on the limb? Who else would dare to tinge his happy ending with a feeling suspiciously like melancholy.
Who else would center a major Hollywood action blockbuster, a genre which frequently boasts of body counts in the triple digits, around something like forgiveness?