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Friday, June 16, 2017

Movie Talk - Sam Raimi's Spider-Man Trilogy

So, we have another Spider-Man reboot coming out… yay? I guess someone was praying for another one to be done. All I can tell you is that it wasn’t me and now I have Shaggy’s “It Wasn’t Me” playing in my head again. I’d probably be happier for it if they didn’t push back Black Panther. Yeah, I’m still going to bring it up! Seeing that awesome trailer has me even more irate as well as happy! Thanks, Marvel!

Since we’re coming upon a possibly *spectacular* time for Spidey fans, it’s time to finally talk about Sam Raimi’s Spider-Man trilogy. Originally, I was supposed to have talked about these movies years ago. When The Amazing Spider-Man was going to be released, I was planning on doing it. I even had a themed month with him and Batman at the same time. I don’t remember why I didn’t talk about them. I guess had too many things on my plate.

I don’t remember when I saw the first movie. I know we had rented it at Movie Gallery at one point. Now, I vaguely remember when I first saw Spider-Man 2. It was during my freshman year of college. MTSU was playing it at the KUC for a week, I believe. It ended up being a solo trip for me one night. As for Spider-Man 3, I also saw it on campus. I don’t know if MTSU has it anymore, but they used to have a channel that would play movies that were just released. I think I started to watch it around the point where Peter and Harry had their first fight.

I have to admit that I haven’t seen much of these movies since then. I think the only one I’ve really watched in the last few years has been Spider-Man 2. While I am a fan, I haven’t been into Spider-Man much these days. I'm not sure what it is. Since it’s been a while, I decided to watch all three movies over the week. A lot has been said about them, so what can I add?


Spider-Man
Spider-Man was released in 2002. We should all know this story by now. Peter Parker, a nerdy high school student, gets bit by a genetically engineered spider on a field trip. The bite gives him extraordinary powers. He tries to use them for selfish gains but that costs him dearly. In order to live up to his Uncle Ben, Peter decides to fight crime as the Amazing Spider-Man. Thugs aren’t the only thing he’s facing, though. A new threat called the Green Goblin starts to terrorize the city. Peter does what he can to keep the city safe and tries to get close to a certain redhead.
Hmm... I give it a 8.

It was nice to revisit this movie. I was worried for a second since most movies tend not to age well. Luckily, that’s not the case here. While it’s not perfect, Spider-Man was a good, fun movie. A lot of it has to do with the cast and the story being told. It’s one of the best origins in comics, so you know it had to be done well. We get to see Peter grow into the role of a superhero throughout the movie.

Even though some may think otherwise, I thought Tobey Maguire did a good job here as Peter/Spider-Man. He wasn’t a chatterbox, but he brought the character to life everywhere else. The rest of the cast did a good job for the most part. William Dafoe especially brought it as the Green Goblin and J.K Simmons’ Jameson was a hoot. I did like the romance between Peter and MJ even though I wasn’t the biggest fan of Kirsten Dunst. The action scenes were pretty spectacular. I liked how Peter’s powers and costume were translated to live-action. The music score from Danny Elfman was also really good.
Hey, Osborn! Try doing that against the rest of the Rangers!

There isn’t much to dislike about the movie. Of course, it’s not a perfect one. There was some acting that didn’t always work. I also wasn’t’ that big a fan of Kirsten Dunst’s Mary Jane. She wasn’t bad, though. Also, you did have some effects that looked a little off then and now. Finally, what was up with Green Goblin’s costume? I did like the armor, but that mask was kind of crap. Other than those things and some small nitpicks, this was a good start to the franchise.


Spider-Man 2
Spider-Man 2 was released in 2004. It takes place two years after the last movie. Peter is having problems balancing his professional life, his personal life, and his hero activities. His relationships with Harry and MJ are on the rocks. He also starts to experience some strange things with his powers. Meanwhile, Doctor Otto Octavius is experimenting with a new power source. When something horrible goes wrong, his mechanical arms get fused to his body and he ends up going mad. He then goes into a life of crime as Doctor Octopus and tries to finish the experiment he started. Peter must do what he can against this new, powerful villain and save the city.

Some have said that this is one of the best superhero movies ever. I don’t if I can say that yet but I can say that this movie is really superior to the first movie. Not many sequels can pull off that. It pretty much continues some of what was set up in the last movie. Peter’s life and relationships are struggling because of his extra activities. He’s also living in a rundown apartment now. It’s here where a lot of big stuff happens with Peter, MJ, Harry, and even Aunt May. Let’s just say that the story really surprised me when I saw it in 2004.
Doctor Octopus: A babysitter I would not hire.

The cast is on fire once again. Maguire and the rest do a tremendous job with what’s given to them. Alfred Molina as Doctor Octopus was another highlight. I liked the wrinkles Raimi gave Octavius in that he was a bit sympathetic. The romance between MJ and Peter was also pretty good and I though Dunst was better here. The action scenes are pretty astonishing. Spidey’s and Doc Ock’s subway fight is still one of my favorite throwdowns of all time. As usual, Elfman’s score still hits all the right notes. The intro scene was especially cool because we got key moments from the previous movie drawn by Alex Ross.

There really isn’t anything wrong with the movie. For once, everything gels perfectly here. There aren’t even some bad special effects or bad acting. You might have a couple of plot points that don’t make sense but that’s really it. I can see why people say this movie is one of the best. Overall, it’s awesome and if you haven’t seen it, check it out.


Spider-Man 3
Spider-Man 3 was released in 2007. It takes place some time after the last movie. Right now, things are actually going good for Peter. He’s being more respected as Spider-Man, he’s balancing things better, and he’s finally gotten with Mary Jane. So, you know it’s not going to go all well for the Parker boy, right? Now that he knows Peter’s identity, Harry Osborn finally comes after Peter because he believes  Peter killed Norman Osborn. Also, it’s revealed that a man known as Flint Marko killed Peter’s uncle. Then there’s Eddie Brock, a guy gunning for Peter’s job. Then, throw in some black alien symbiote that attaches itself to Peter. Then, thrown in a new possible love interest named Gwen Stacy and you have one bloated movie… no, I’m not showing all my cards on how I feel about this movie.
"And on that day, Peter knew he really screwed up. Also, what is Gwen even doing here? I mean, she's kinda hot but..."

Well, “Third Movie Syndrome” had to hit the franchise eventually. While there are some decent things here, this is a really flawed movie. I was worried about how I would view this film now. Shockingly, it’s not that bad at first. It actually starts out pretty well for the first couple of acts. It’s not perfect, but it’s at least decent. I did feel that everyone tried their best with the script that was used. While I still think Topher Grace was a little miscast as Eddie Brock, he at least tries. I’ll give him that. The scenes at the Daily Bugle were also pretty funny. Also, it was cool to see a darker side to Peter. Too bad it wasn’t handled well at times.
Dang.

The action is about on par with Spider-Man 2. The fights between Peter and Harry were cool and pretty brutal. I especially liked that they weren’t always fighting in costume too. While Sandman’s character was poor, his power set wasn’t. Both of his early fights with Spider-Man were good especially the underground fight. Spidey (in the Black suit) wasn’t playing around. While the final fight was pretty cliché and not built up well, it was cool seeing Peter and Harry take on Venom (no comment) and Giant Sandman. While Danny Elfman isn’t back to score the film, I thought Christopher Young did a fine job carrying the torch.

Well, that’s all the good praise I can give it. The thing that hurts the movie is the script itself. They just threw too much stuff into this one. You had a lot of plots going on and most of them didn’t get fleshed out much.  The relationship between Peter and MJ was actually pretty poor. I liked the idea of Peter’s life going well and MJ’s going through some stuff. Unfortunately, it’s not written well. Including Gwen Stacy here was nice, but not much was done with her. There were also some really cheesy moments. While the franchise has had campy moments, the bar scene and couple of other stuff went too far even for me.
Oh dear...

We had three villains who were really given the short-shrift. Some of Harry’s story could have been handled better especially that scene with his butler. By the way, that was horrible. While having the butler say something to Harry was a nice idea, it was executed badly. The amnesia angle was cliché but I get why it was there. Sandman was okay but bland when compared to previous villains from the franchise. At least he was acted well. Plus, his transformation scene was pretty good.
Ugh...

Then, we get to Venom. Excuse my French, but what annoying jackass thought throwing him in at the last second was a good thing? Wait, I know that question:  Avi Arad. Apparently, Raimi was forced to put the symbiote and Venom in and it really shows. It’s like they don’t belong in the film. When Eddie gets the symbiote, which looked pretty cool, the movie goes downhill even further with that weird team up and final fight. It’s sad because Venom is one of Spidey’s best foes. Why throw him in at the last second instead of giving him his own movie? I mean, come on!
What's worse is that he actually looked good!!!

Overall, this is one flawed movie. It’s not horrible like most folk say, but it is far from good as it can get. What’s worse is that the problems could have been fixed. The cast, the effects, and the director were there. All they had to do was get rid of a couple of elements and have things make more sense. Heck, look at the previous movies for evidence! Unfortunately, it wasn’t meant to be which makes it all disappointing in the end.

…………………………………………………………………………

In the end, two out of three good movies isn’t bad. This trilogy may not be the best, but it succeeds more than it fails. I definitely recommend the first two movies. If you want to do it, check the third movie and see what not to do with your superhero franchise. I wonder what a fourth movie would have looked like. Even though Spider-Man 3 wasn’t well liked, it did make a lot of money. Raimi was even working on a new movie but he had a falling out with Sony. Instead of carrying on, Sony decided to reboot it with 2012’s The Amazing Spider-Man. Just guess what’s next up. Until then, Peace and God Bless.

The only time Spidey should do any dancing.

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