By Chris Campo
Spider-Man 3, to some, is the worst Spider-Man movie made, and I think I agree. Spider-Man 3, when I was a kid, was my favorite of the trilogy. I thought Sandman and Venom were badass and I laughed everytime Peter danced, but after rewatching this film after some time, I have to admit... I fucking hate this movie. Spider-Man 3 is a mess. A silly, sloppy mess. Are there some good aspects or moments? Yes. Is it worse than a Fantastic Four film or the Green Lantern one we're trying to forget? No. But this series means a lot to me and this is sort of a slap in the face.
Spider-Man 3 throws us back into the life of Peter Parker (Toby Maguire), where everything seems to be going great. He's doing well in school, he's a hero to his city and he's got the girl of his dreams, Mary Jane Watson (Kirsten Dunst). Darkness soon shadows his life as Harry Osborn (James Franco) vows revenge on Peter, Flint Marco (Thomas Church) brings new truths to his life, and Eddie Brock (Topher Grace) sets to destroy Peter's life after Peter destroyed his, which takes place after a symbiotic creature migrates from Peter to Eddie. If it sounds overstuffed, that's because it is. It's a story that lacks so much focus that there's not a lot to really grasp. It's all just there, and stuff happens, and the movie ends.
As I've mentioned, and will continue to mention for as long as Spider-Man 3 comes up in conversations, this film is a unfocused mess. The trio of vilians is messy, Peter's so-called arc is messy, character motivations are messy and the script is almost laughable. Sure, there are some moments where I sit back, smirk and murmer to myself "that's the Spider-Man I love," but those moments are few and far between. The film feels as though it's desperate to satisfy you, which is funny when you consider the last two films effortlessly amazed us all.
I'm just going to go out and say it, Peter Parker is a shitty character in Spider-Man 3. Yeah, one of the most likeable and relatable characters in comics is reduced to a dude who wants to marry a girl and momentarily goes emo. Thats it. The development of his character from the first two films completely slams on the breaks and gives us a flat, static replacement, not to mention how his motivation is just confusing. So many choices he makes leave me confused and wondering what happened to his complexion? Why isn't Peter Parker likeable? Shitty writing, that's why.
The screenplay is a joke, throwing whatever it can to the walls and nearly nothing sticks. It's all rushed too. Everything is rushed. From Peter abandoning the black suit to Venom's whole arc, everything seems so desperate to fit in. They barley make room for Aunt May, who's nothing more than a lazy excuse to throw exposition at the audience or advice at Peter. So much stuff makes no sense, like I get why the symbiotic makes Peter more aggressive, but why does it make him dance on TWO occasions? Or why does it make him a douche? Oh, because it's funny? To a child, sure. It's when Peter buys a suit and air humps towards two pretty girls where you just wish you could die because of how much of a mess this film is.
The villains are often said to be the reason this film failed. I hear all the time that this film would have been better with one villain... maybe two, but honestly, that's not necessarily the problem. The problem is that all the vilians in this film suck, and suck hard. Harry, or "New Goblin" as it appears in the credits, is not only a carbon copy of Green Goblin, but has a lazy and over-before-you-know-it story arc in this film. The Sandman is an interesting idea, and the origin of his powers is a beautiful, stand out sequence, but the character himself is excruciatingly boring. I just don't care about him, his connection to Peter forced, and his transformation into that huge sand monster at the end is just awful. Now, I could write a whole article on how much I hate Venom in this movie. Everything from the awful casting of Topher Grace to the weird way his face is animated when speaking. Venom should have been a highlight, but instead he's a rushed after thought with maybe 7 or so full minutes of screen time.
Not even the action is that good, either. Unlike the first two films, there's not even one truly memorable set piece. There's the highway fight with Sandman, but that's forgettable. There's the fight in mid-air with New Goblin, but that's boring and stretched out. The final battle is just barley passable, but it's nowhere as near as memorable as the previous two films, Harry's death is satasfying and emotional in that final fight, but thats about it. The sewer fight, where Peter is first the black suited Spider-Man, is decent, and the collapsing building sequence is exciting, but there's nothing that truly stands out, or is as well done as, for example, the train sequence in Spider-Man 2.
As for Mary Jane Watson... what the fuck? She went from boring damsel in distress, to more tolerable damsel in distress, to annoying and boring damsel in distress in the course of three films. I hate Mary Jane in this film. Not only is the character just not exciting, but neither is her story. I don't care about her problems, they only slow the film down. The pacing gets all fucked up when we take time with her. I get it, Peter cares about her, which is great, but we dont. Move on, just not to Gwen Stacey, as Gwen in this film is a joke. A crammed in, no-purpose joke.
To be fair, this is not a 100%, completely awful film. The film does have its moments. It's certainly well shot, and Sam Raimi adds some signature flair to his direction. The score is great, superb even, and may just top the last two films. There's also a lot of those little moments that put a big, goofy smile on my face, like where Spider-Man is chilling after fighting the Sandman, pouring sound out of his shoe, or how Peter cant seem to get the door in his apartment fixed, and it's this general Spider-Maning that gets me all soft inside. I love him swinging around and cheering, it makes me feel like a happy child, and that's exactly what these films should do.
To sum up, Spider-Man 3 is a low point in the franchise, and it may be my least favorite Spider-Man film to date. It's a sloppy, unfocused and forgettable mess with little redeming qualities. It's a shame this film had to follow two amazing films, but hey, at least we got a reboot... right?
By Liam Alexander
It’s been 3 years. 3 whole years since Batman Begins (review here) left us with that major tease, the tease that continues to make me squeal every time I see it…the joker card. A promise of greatness to come. Batman Begins introduced us to this new, grounded in reality world, now Nolan, you have to follow that up. Following up a revolutionary shift in blockbuster cinema has got to be no easy task, but what comes after the revolution? The renaissance. A chaotic renaissance of clowns, crime, drama, psychological tests, hockey pads and disappearing pencils. The Dark Knight is not only the greatest comic book film of all time, it’s one of the greatest crime movies of all time…hell, it is, in my opinion, one of the best films of all time. Yeah, lets talk about it.
It’s been a year since our caped crusader stopped the toxin attack on Gotham, now Batman (Christian Bale), Gordon (Gary Oldman) and new district attorney Harvey Dent (Aaron Eckhart) are cleaning up the streets of Gotham, and they’re doing a good job at it as well. Crime rates in Gotham are at an all time low, and criminals are afraid to do… criminal like things at night because of a little guy called Batman. That is until a certain clown prince of crime, The Joker (Heath Ledger) decides to take a stroll into Gotham.
The Dark Knight is the second act in a great 3 act story, the fall. Batman is constantly tested throughout the film, not physically, but psychologically. And that is what makes it so engaging. It’s all fine to see Batman go up against a brute, a villain who has some gadget, or an end of the world scenario - but it’s kind of boring to be honest. What about when he goes up against someone who knows his inner workings and plays on that, constantly pushing him towards breaking his moral code? A villain who is the polar opposite, yet still similar to our hero? A villain who’s just doing it for fun? That is just great drama. That is the Joker. Scarecrow used fear as his weapon, the Joker uses madness.
“Madness, as you know, is a lot like gravity, all it takes is a little…push." The Joker
Bale is great in the film, even though he has that…voice, you know what it is. He does Bruce Wayne, Millionaire Bruce Wayne and Batman all brilliantly. But this is the Joker’s film. This is Heath Ledgers film. Ledger as the Joker is quite honestly my favourite performance in just about any film I’ve ever seen. Every scene he is in he just steals, he grabs it and runs away. You forget you’re watching a performance, you forget that he’s following a script; it’s just the Joker being himself on camera. There is no greater praise an actor can get, there is method acting…and then there’s Ledger as the Joker. It’s a league entirely on its own. What I love so much about Ledgers performance as the Joker are the little things, the slight lick of the tongue, the changes in his backstory, and his laugh, which is just menacing, psychotic and riveting. But by far, the most compelling aspect of the character is the intellect. He’s a villain, but everything he says makes sense, and that terrifies Batman. He’s not a psychopath; it’s all an act. He plays the audience as much as he plays Batman… it’s fucking brilliant. I could talk about this character and performance all day, but I’ll continue with the rest of the review.
Maggie Ghyllenhaal as Rachael is also fantastic, a casting change that actually worked very well. Her death scene came as a major shock and her relationship with Bruce is 100x more interesting in this film than in the last. You really feel that she is one of the only people (apart from Alfred, of course) who understood all 3 aspects of Bruce. Now, talk about someone who doesn’t get enough credit, Aaron Eckhart as Harvey Dent AKA Two Face. It’s a fantastic performance for an amazingly written, yet also tragic hero. He’s a man who falls from a height of virtue and becomes the back up in the Jokers master plan. Holding Gordon’s kids hostage… yikes. Gary Oldman as Gordon is still one of the greatest castings in the history of EVER! He is so good throughout the film and especially in the final minutes. Everyone is just at the top of their games in this movie.
“You either die a hero…or you live long enough to see yourself become the villain." Harvey Dent
The Dark Knight has so many memorable scenes that it hurts, thanks again to Nolan’s superb understanding of the world he has created, his sublime direction and killer writing. He just nails the whole film. The opening bank robbery shot in IMAX (AKA best format ever), Joker’s pencil trick, the hospital explosion, cellphone in the belly, Jokers fall, Harvey’s death and on and on. But by far, my favourite scene in this entire movie, my favourite scene in the trilogy, one of my favourite (lots of favourites in this film) scenes ever put on celluloid: the Interrogation. The scene is so incredibly written, insanely directed and the performances from Ledger and Bale encapsulates the characters better in just 3 and a half minutes then most movies do in 2 and a half hours. Seriously, if you haven't seen The Dark Knight in a while, YouTube the scene and just salivate at how perfect it is. Film at its finest.
Once again, you couldn’t possibly think I’d talk about a Nolan Batman film without talking about Hans Zimmer’s eargasm enduring score. It’s better then the already fantastic Batman Begins score, the themes in this film are iconic at this point, and really do take the film to another level. ‘A Dark Knight’ and ‘Aggressive Expansion’ are my personal favourites, but all of the tracks are just stellar compositions. I’ll say this while I can now, another unsung hero of the film is cinematographer, Wally Phister. He captures the film with a certain grit and brings fluidity to the chaos, which is just marvelous to look at.
“I’m not a monster. I’m just ahead of the curve.” The Joker
The ending is cathartic and incredibly unexpected, genre defying, emotional, not happy? Batman taking the blame for Dent’s death and riding off into the night with the police chasing him behind, Gordon knows Batman is the hero Gotham deserves, just not the one they need right now, a silent guardian, watchful protector…a dark knight. BANG. END CREDITS. Liam wipes away the tears, hits the replay button and watches it again for the six thousand and forty seventh time.
The Dark Knight is not only one of the greatest films to come out of the 00’s, its one of my favourite films ever made. It’s deep, entertaining, emotional, dramatic, thrilling, it’s everything you could really want in a movie. Ledger gives the greatest performance I’ve ever seen and Nolan directs the hell out of it. The Dark Knight is a superior film to the already 5 star Batman Begins, so if I could give it a higher grade, you bet your hockey pads I would.