Well, the summer season has started (and I have yet to fully discuss that in another post that I had planned to post up) and it was a bang with the new Spiderman sequel. The critics gave it "mixed reviews" while the public saw it in record numbers. Early Sunday projections come to the tune of $149 million and all I can say is that I saw both these trends coming. It seemed obvious that the critics wouldn't like the 3rd part of a trilogy because they rarely do. The expectations are so high, that they're usually expecting the next Citizen Kane and this is usually more the case when the film directors like the 2nd half of the trilogy better. Roger Ebert called X-Men 2 the best superhero movie he'd ever seen until the year after that when he proclaimed Spiderman 2 the best superhero movie ever again, so again the expectations are going to be high.
My city paper's film critic, Ann Hornaday of the Washington Post, went on to express this self-fullfilling prophecy in her review of the film. She basically said, "Spiderman 3 cements the rule that the third leg of a trilogy will always be a massive disappointment, just like Batman Forever and X-Men 3." As I constantly try to remind people, it wasn't until Batman & Robin that the Batman series took a real dive. Batman Forever remains one of my favorite superhero films and I have yet to hear a rational argument for why X-Men 3 was not a good film. Maybe slightly less effective than the first two films, but the level of acting, plot complexity, and special effects are still way up there. By no means do I equate Brett Ratner and Bryan Singer as directors (I think much higher of the latter), but without seeing the opening credits, I would openly challenge many of the film critics who bashed X-Men 3 to identify whether it was a Singer or a Rattner movie.
I also expected Spiderman 3 to do tremendously well, but duh. The harder question is why. I much prefer the X-Men series and tried to show it to my dad once, but for some reason he has a habit of running in the opposite direction of anything that appears sci-fi and about halfway through, he felt it was just unappealling and walked away.
It was too complex for him and in that respect, Spiderman with only one hero (Peter Parker), one villain (Doc Ock or the Green Goblin), one girl (MJ), and one variable who shifts in between (Harry Osborn), it's superhero/supervillain entertainment watered down enough so that anyone can partake. That's kind of the way I see it, at least. Magneto is a villain of Shakesperean proportions and he plays games of chess with his biggest arch rival. Despite Alfred Molina and Willhem Dafoe being serviceable actors, they played one-dimenstional villains. In Spiderman 1, the Peter Parker-MJ relationship is so cliche of the girl-next-door type story, that she's even literally next door. I also didn't feel that any of the key relationships evolved organically from Spiderman 1 to Spiderman 2. Harry and Peter Parker are "best friends" but that is merely a plot point. Do we ever see the two actually canoodling as friends? Despite the cliche factor, I might say that it was a somewhat effective progression from boy having a crush on girl to the two falling in love in Spiderman 1, but in Spiderman 2, there's an awkward stability between the two and they act as if they're lifelong friends. MJ is expecting things of him as "her best friend" such as being on time to the play. It's merely a relationship established at the start of the picture to move it along from one end of the spectrum to another.
Nevertheless, I do like the Spiderman Series and would give both movies thumbs up. I think that they do a great job of intermixing the superhero within the mundane world and that's another reason why this superhero trilogy has become such a mega force at the box office. Because it attracts the comic book nerds in droves while it attracts the people who aren't drawn to comic book storytelling. I think Tobey MaGuire is cast extremely against type and it plays off especially well. I just don't think it's on the level of really great movie making
Nevertheless, I will probably see Spiderman 3, mainly because when something's this big, you've gotta jump in and see what it's all about. I'm also extremely curious to see what they've done with Thomas Haden Church