Saturday, May 5, 2007

Spider-Man 3: The IMAX Experience

dir. Sam Raimi

James Franco and Neve Campbell in Robert Altman's The Company.
Kyle MacLachlan in Paul Verhoeven's Showgirls. Tobey Maguire in Sam Raimi's Spider-Man 3.

May 4, 2007 - 70mm/AMC Lincoln Square

My favorite scene in Robert Altman’s The Company is when a shirt-less (hot!) James Franco prepares an egg breakfast for Neve Campbell. This occurs in the morning, after what we can only assume was a night of passionate chef/ballerina-style lovemaking. The egg preparing is surprisingly very intimate, more so than a sex scene would have been, but more than intimate it is hilarious. He smiles that goofy million-dollar smile and all is right with the world. And, on top of the smiling, he’s a good cook! He’s making eggs! What a catch! Way to go, ballerina Neve!

My favorite scene in Sam Raimi’s Spider-Man 3 is when a fully clothed (hot!) James Franco prepares an egg brunch/dinner/snack for Kirsten Dunst. This occurs in the middle of the day, after and during dancing rather poorly to “The Twist”. The Spider-Man movies are full of musical montages, but this is hardly a montage. Mr. Raimi opts to treat this small, intimate scene with the frenetic “so much is happening and time is passing!” styling of a “‘love is in the air’ montage” by bringing archaic music, wild and crazy dancing and, most importantly, Mr. Franco’s priceless smile. A great chunk of this movie, when Mr. Smile loses his marbles, is very amusing. It all culminates in a scene with Tobey Maguire (Spider-Man/Peter Parker) and Mr. Franco (New Goblin/Harry Osborn) in a coffee shop.

The coffee shop scene is a serious one, but it ends comically with the young Osborn essentially commenting on the “damn good slice of pie” to his waitress. Mr. Franco’s insistence on the quality of the slice of pie echoes the work of Kyle MacLachlan in David Lynch’s television show, Twin Peaks. This unhappy coffee shop meet between Parker and Osborn, in conjunction with some alien goo, leads to another series of over-the-top slapstick silliness. This time, Mr. Maguire plays the part of the wild and crazy guy, which leads us back to Kyle MacLachlan. As the alien goo and his newly acquired “single” status take hold, Peter Parker becomes a charming sleaze-ball. This sleaziness physically manifests itself in an altered hairstyle. The “sleazy-spidey” hairstyle happens to be another echo in the Kyle Maclachlan canon, reflecting his hair in Paul Verhoeven’s movie, Showgirls. In Showgirls, Mr. Maclachlan’s “sleaze” is represented through staring at girls, a lot of cocaine use and weird, body-flopping pool sex. In Spider-Man 3, Mr. Maguire’s “sleaze” is represented through staring at girls, a lot of cookie-eating and weird, body-flopping jazz club dancing.

Peter Parker dances at a jazz club with some new girl, Gwen Stacy (played by Bryce Dallas Howard), to get back at his recently fired ex and ex-Showgirl (Broadway, not Vegas), Mary Jane Watson (played by Kirsten Dunst). Ms. Dunst does quite a bit of singing in Spider-Man 3, and all of it is very poor. Can any of the women in the Spider-Man universe do anything right or be the least bit independent or strong? Unlike the dancing in the movie, the singing is not funny. Not funny at all.

Almost none of Spider-Man 3 makes any sense, not in the classical sense of the word and not in the fantasy universe created in first two (successful) installments in the series. There is a sand-monster who can grow to exponential heights, a cross between the Stay Puft Marshmallow Man from Ghostbusters and Nick Nolte’s “water-father” monster from the end of Hulk. There is an old advice-giving manservant at the Osborn mansion that bequeaths pivotal knowledge to Harry at just the right narrative moment. There is an inexplicable vibrating desk. All of these oddball non-sequiturs, compounded with an overly complicated, yet very simple and stupid, story make for something that, if anything, is good for a few laughs. I have no intentions of elevating the first two Spider-Man movies to the levels of the to-be-mentioned series, but Spider-Man 3 fits snuggly in the Batman Forever or Return of the Jedi category of moviemaking. It has the totally bonkers nonsense feel of Batman Forever, combined with the performative (none of the actors care) feel of Return of the Jedi.

Spider-Man 3 is a bad movie.


Dan Keezer said...

It's true, this movie silly and uninspired.

I'm still talking about that crazy insane crane accident sequence, though. Thats gotta mean something.

JOEY DEVINE! said...

I honestly walked out feeling like it had to have been edited for time or something.

Kalen Egan said...

"Edited for time??" Are you insane? It felt like it was four hours long... an endless amount of time. To me it seemed like they'd just gone ahead and shot all these individual scenes and fight sequences thinking to themselves "ahh, whatever, we'll glue the fuckin' thing together during re-shoots."

Truly an unpleasant, boring experience.

Jeff Larson said...

Yeah! What's amazing to me is that they felt like it was abolutely necessary that we sit through 40 fucking minutes of pelvic thrusting and silly Saturday Night Fever dancing. But, eh, 148 million dollars says we're wrong.

Jeff GP said...

Even Spider-Man's best pal, James Franco, whose breakthrough role was as a sexy underachiever in 'Freaks and Geeks', has returned to the Apatow fold, first in a 'Knocked Up' cameo and next starring opposite Rogen in the pothead comedy 'The Pineapple Express'. Rogen reports from the set that, unlike his sullen 'Spider-Man 3' character, Franco "smiles this whole movie."

Hey, alright!!!

JOEY DEVINE! said...

dude pineapple express is going to rock the shit. DGG, Franco, Rogan! My head might explode!