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Sunday, June 10, 2007

Spiderman 3

At last I had a chance to see the Summer's big film (well - May's big film) in the form of Spiderman 3: Spiderman vs the icky-black-goo thing and the sandpit dude. I have low expectations of superhero films; for years I was convinced that if only they treated the subject matter with seriousness, as modern myths, they could produce some wonderful cinema. Then I saw X-men and realised the error of my ways (in fact the best superhero films are not explicitly superhero films at all, for example the recent 300, or the original Matrix).

So for me a real superhero film (the spandex kind) should be a fantastic spectacle, a roller coaster ride of childish exuberance, and the main job of the film maker is not to balls it up with to much dialogue or plot (which is not to say that I dislike dialogue or plot, but that in superhero films this always equals bad dialogue and plots with holes big enough to drive a blockbuster through, so they just should keep it quiet save the explosions and shouting).

All this meant that I wasn't expecting much from Spidey, even if he can do everything a spider can. In fact this is a very unusual film, in retrospect what obviously happened is that Sam Raimi and his team happily spent many months revising the script, staging and shooting scenes, and overseeing special effects before Sam retired to the editing studio with his buddies to edit the thing together.

After a healthy breakfast it all starts well enough, spidey is reintroduced, we are reminded of what happened in the other films and we get to see some interesting new villains. Over lunch things slow down a bit and they accidentally edit in an extra hour in the middle involving lots of teenage introspection, angst, needless handwringing and a blond.

Things pick up again in the afternoon and Sam gets into his stride, then something unfortunate happens. Just as we are getting into the denouement Sam has to take a toilet break. In his absence all hell breaks loose, some work experience kid gets his hand on the editing suite and suddenly the film is full of American flags, heavy handed plot twists, bad dialogue (told you!) and a laughable bad sequence shot from the point of few of a news cameraman where Black goo and Sandpit revert to children in a playground ("Spiderman - stop us if you can!"). When Sam returns he is assured by his brazen team of film wreckers that everything is well, and he happily finishes the climax blissfully unaware of the gaping hole in his film just below the waterline.

As the credit roll I was struck by an image of a confused Sam Raimi standing on the sloping deck as his otherwise beautiful creation sinks into the waves. Maybe he can do everything a spider can, but he can't swim. Utterly bonkers.

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