And so the cash-cow juggernaut that is the Hollywood sequel continues to drive its way across the world, obliterating almost all that comes before it. After the debacle that was Pirates of the Caribbean 3, I knew that I should abandon this year’s slew of threequels as hopeless and quietly admit that these big budget movies are no longer for me, but the Hollywood gene that was implanted as a child remained intact and like a moth to the flame I was irresistibly drawn towards this third, darker, Spiderman movie.
I knew it was going to suck, I knew I was going to hate it but still I couldn’t give up the ghost of the idea that maybe this time I would be wrong. Maybe this time I would find something satisfying and admirable in the cold, dead eyes of a billion dollar franchise. Maybe this time would be like when I was younger and I’d find giddy enjoyment in the spectacle and find it emotionally engaging as well.
I was a fool to even think it.
Remember that episode of the Simpsons where Poochy is introduced into Itchy and Scratchy but is destroyed by the studios attempts to satisfy every demographic? Welcome to Spiderman 3. The class and style of the first two films appears to have been thrown out the window in favour of a predetermined marketing angle, the established character arcs are dismissed with an almost gleeful preference for point A to B storytelling and the set-pieces are uninspired and formulaic. It’s almost as if the producers had a bullet point list of scenes / toy spin-offs they wanted to include and the story was shoe-horned in around them.
Even taking into account that it’s a comic-book movie and not subject to the general laws of logical storytelling, it was still a staggeringly lazy piece of work. Whole sections of the first movie were rewritten to justify character behaviour, soap opera levels of plotting were used to initiate storylines, villains given absolutely no reason to exist whatsoever and plot lines that had been carefully built up over the two previous movies were discarded in one or two lines of dialogue. What was even worse was that potentially interesting and exciting avenues of the plot were jettisoned in favour of turgid song and dance sequences and horrifically embarrassing ‘comedy’ moments.
This was meant to be the ‘dark’ episode of the trilogy, but instead it was a laughable exercise in bad filmmaking. How do we know Peter Parker has lost his soul to the black suit…? Why, he grows a Kraftwerk haircut. How can we justify his descent into bad behaviour…? Simple, rewrite his motivations from the first film. How can we get the new Green Goblin on Peter’s side..? Easy, give him selective amnesia. The disregard and lack of respect for the audience is evident in every frame as they go about hitting each target for their demograph and the consequences for the story be damned.
The villains were a pathetic lot and had none of the interest or pathos of either the Green Goblin or Doctor Octopus. Venom was a lousy CGI creation that was neither scary nor cool, and the Sandman was lumped with a backstory that was irrelevant and insulting. Kirsten Dunst became an irritating, demanding, self-interested cow barely capable of getting a teenage boy interested, Tobie Maguire had a humiliating dance sequence to explain his descent into badness and even the utterly reliable Bruce Campbell was saddled with a sub-Arthur Bostrom bad French accent that was nigh-on-impossible to watch without having fingers to hide behind.
The CGI was uninspired and shoddy, the fight sequences were boring and hard to watch and the so-called humour made me realise why these people were paid so much money in the first place – to buy their dignity and splash it on the screen. The ending was an insult to everything that had preceded it, the logic frequently dismissed in favour of expositional dialogue and the script was clearly (hopefully) a first draft they couldn’t be bothered to finish. For a series of films that started out very well, this was a terrible, terrible, terrible way to end them.
Of course, it made $800 million at the box office so who gives a fuck if it’s any good? Not the studio or filmmakers who must be swimming in their Scrooge McDuck pools of money and laughing at the gullibility of the global audience. The whole film was a fucking insult.