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Spider-Man Trilogy (Flack’s Triple Review)

Posted on | July 1, 2012 | 1 Comment

Spider-Man

In the following article I will review the Spider-Man trilogy. This includes Spider-Man (2002) Spider-Man 2 (2004), and Spider Man 3 (2007). Sam Raimi directed all the films and Tobey Maguire plays Peter Parker aka Spider-Man along with Kirsten Dunst as his love interest, Mary Jane Watson also known as MJ. Let the  superhero triple review begin!

The first Spider-Man film tells the origin story of the hero: how Peter Parker got bitten by a spider, put on a costume, had his friend Harry Osbourne get mad at him, fell in love with Mary Jane Watson, and battled the Green Goblin. In Spider-Man 2 MJ is now going to marry an astronaut while Peter now has more trouble as Spider-Man with Dock-Ock trying to ruin the city. Harry is meanwhile out for vengeance. Peter being Spider-Man is also distracting him from his personal life as he tries to get MJ to love him again. In the final film, Spider-Man 3 Peter faces more romantic troubles, a demon creature called Venom living within him, and an addictive but evil black Spidey suit plus new villains the Sandman, rival photographer Eddie Brock as Venom, and Harry as the New Green Goblin.

Spider-ManThe overall tone for Sam Raimi’s Spider-Man trilogy is entertainment. Yes at times the films are dark and brooding (but never too much and there’s no blood) and at others silly and ridiculous (but always after a supposed to be silly scene the bad guy comes in and havoc ensues). The first Spider-Man movie was  released on May 3rd, 2002 (a decade ago) and it broke Harry Potter and The Sorcerer’s Stone‘s opening weekend box office record of $90 million by bringing in $114 million in just three days. It went on to make $403 million in the USA making it (unadjusted for inflation) the 6th highest grossing movie of all time. It also cost $139 million to make, made $821 million in it’s worldwide total, and was the highest grossing movie of 2002.  It also received generally favorable reviews from critics and was applauded by fans. So what’s my take? An exciting superhero action picture with bad CGI and emotional scenes that try and sometimes fail but nonetheless a suspenseful, action packed thrill ride. Tobey Maguire, Kirsten Dunst, James Franco, and Willem Dafoe among others are good and fit their roles. Maguire and Dunst have so-so chemistry and Cliff Robertson and Rosemarie Harris are enjoyable as Peter’s Uncle Ben and Aunt May.  However, it definitely did not deserve it’s 89% fresh rating on Rotten Tomatoes. For a movie only ten years old some of the effects are pretty cheap! I mean even some of the stuff from 1977’s Star Wars holds up a little bit better and that movie came out 35 years ago! One of the main problems with the film is the Green Goblin. Because he is stuck in a suit Willem Dafoe is not able to move around his body to make the fight scenes more exciting, or show any expression on his face thereby restricting him to a one note, cheesy bad guy. Luckily Dafoe is pretty strong as the Goblin’s alter ego Norman Osbourne though it’s not an amazing performance or anything like that. The emotional stuff works occasionally but magically the origin story is just so watchable and all the elements come together to create an entertaining ride.

Spider-Man 2Spider-Man 2Spider-Man 2Spider Man 2 was released June 30th, 2002 just in time for the 4th of July. It cost $200 million to make, opened to $88 million, had a domestic total of $373 million, a worldwide total of $783 million, and became the second highest grossing movie of the 2004. It got a 93% fresh on Rotten Tomatoes and Roger Ebert gave it 4 out of 4 stars (he gave the first one 2 1/2 stars and the third one 2 stars) and called it the best superhero movie ever. The only problem I have with this film is that there is one silly scene where they play bad music as Peter Parker walks down the street (I guess they were just preparing you for Spider-Man 3). Other than this minor complaint, Spider-Man 2 is basically perfect. It’s filled with interesting characters, awesome action, a great story, and terrific special effects. For every astonishing fight on top of a train set piece there’s a sad moment when two people talk. Dock-Ock could have used some more emotion but Alfred Molina is fantastic and the villain is wwwwaaaaaaayyyyy better than the Green Goblin. This is the only sequel I have seen that I would call an actual improvement over the original. Not only is the Spidey series back, bigger, and better it’s also more humane. Maguire and Dunst as well as James Franco have gotten heavily better in their roles and now feel more comfortable. This is not just a great Spider-Man movie, it’s not just a great superhero movie. It’s a truly great movie. And for all the great dialogue and fantastic screenwriting, this is an action movie. And it’s a cool one. Unlike a lot of  action movies there are more great battles than just the climax in this. There is a spectacular set piece where Dock-Ock and Spidey battle. After so many emotional scenes this  battle sequence really gets your blood pounding. And of course then there’s the inevitably awesome climax with thrills, chills, and spills all it’s own. The film takes big steps forward but stays true to the characters. An amazing movie.

Spider-Man 3Spider-Man 3Spider-Man 3 was released May 4th, 2007 and was immediately disliked by fans. Critics had mixed feelings about it too, rewarding it a 63% fresh on Rotten Tomatoes. It made $151 million on it’s opening weekend setting a new record, made $336 million domestically which was worse than all the others, made $890 million worldwide which as the best for the trilogy, and became the highest grossing movie of the year.  While there are some absolutely ridiculous dance numbers, a convoluted plot, and a disappointing ending there is still real emotion, surprising revelations, and okay special effects. And then there are the often discussed villains. Three of them. Flint Marko aka The Sandman is portrayed fairly lifelessly yet just okay by Thomas Haden Church for most of the film until the last scene he is in where he does a good job. The CGI Sandman is inhumane and a boring bunch of goop. Performance capture would have been helpful. Luckily Marko’s back story is interesting enough. Another villain Venom is basically three villains. At first he is a slimy black blob, then he turns (most interestingly) Peter bad, and later on gets into rival photographer Eddie Broch (Eddie wants to take Peter’s photography job at the newspaper business The Daily Bugle) who tries to kill MJ by hanging her from a building (strange, that never happened before) The story gets very interesting when Peter becomes evil but a more sure and consistent director than Sam Raimi maybe would have helped. Topher Grace is annoying as Eddie and doesn’t have realistically evil motivations. Just because SPOILER ALERT: Peter made him lose his job doesn’t mean he has to try to kill him at all costs. SPOILER ALERT IS OVER NOW! As for the third and possibly best villain is the New Green Goblin aka Harry Osborne played by James Franco. Franco is terrific as the troubled Harry but at times too smiley and often dry as always but during key scenes late in the film you feel for him. However with so many villains it would have been nice to see more variety with the baddies. In fact all three of them are good guys turned bad who have one person they love (Flint’s daughter, Norman Osbourne for Harry, and Gwen Stacy for Eddie). None of them are as good as Dock-Ock who yes used to be good but felt menacing and you wanted them to be good at the end (although you didn’t feel for him when he was bad too much). The baddies however are not the only problem with the movie.  The tone is very unbalanced and the mix of comedy, humor, and emotion mostly fails here. Also: did we really need to see Spidey dance like a weirdo? I don’t think so! The climax is also the same as what we have seen before, though exciting nonetheless. The other non evil characters (Elizabeth Banks as Miss Brant, Bryce Dallas Howard as Gwen Stacy, James Cromwell as her father, Captain Stacy, J.K. Simmons as J. Jonah Jameson, Bill Nunn as Joseph ‘Robbie’ Robertson, Dylan Baker as Dr. Curt Conors, and Rosemary Harris as Aunt May Parker) are okay but with so much else going on it’s hard for them to be as developed as they could be. The dialogue and script are also not well done. One last note: This year the day The Avengers came out celebrated half a decade (5 years) of this film. Sadly there isn’t enough to celebrate other than disappointment.

Spider-Man 3There are many great scenes in the trilogy. The “With great power comes great responsibility” line from the first one is classic, the climaxes are all exciting and there are numerous emotional scenes that made me attached to Peter Parker. But my two favorites scenes are two astonishing set pieces from Spider-Man 2: the train fight battle and the pier exploding climax. They have great CGI, amazing stunts, and awesome action. They also combine visual wonder with character development and have a great but not the best score from Danny Elfman. These are some of the greatest action scenes of superhero movies and movies, themselves.

Spider-Man 2My favorite character of the trilogy is a no brainer: Spider Man aka Peter Parker. How could you not love the superpowers, acting, and webslinging jumping. The charater is also a good person and learns not to want revenge in the third film. Tobey Maguire does a terrific job especially in the second one.

All three films are rated PG-13 by the MPAA for action violence. I agree but there is also some romance.

Spider-Man 2And what do I give the three films out of  5 stars? Well I’ll tell you!

Spider-Man 121 minutes, 3 stars

Spider-Man 2 127 minutes, 4 1/2 stars

Spider-Man 3 140 minutes, 2 1/2 stars

Out of 15 stars added up the movies gets 10 stars. But out of 5 stars I would give them an overall 3 1/2 stars, almost 4 stars. Though at times disappointing the Spider-Man trilogy is in parts genius. If you’re willing to have a great time watch all three films. Spider-Man 2 is the best, Spider-Man is not bad, and Spider-Man 3 is the worst. Yes the first one is simply enjoyable and the third one is just disappointing, although it has it’s moments but the second one is well, amazing. Overall though this is 388 minutes of superhero entertainment worth watching.

 

Comments

One Response to “Spider-Man Trilogy (Flack’s Triple Review)”

  1. flickflack
    July 1st, 2012 @ 8:58 pm

    Wow! This is one of if not your best posts! Sure, it has some typos but you can fix them whenever, and they didn’t distract from the brilliance of your writing. You have an articulate and defined voice, one that certainly is interesting. You surely are a force to be reckoned with. From, Flick
    Great post!

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