On flitting through the substantial list of films awaiting review, I was struck by how many are threequels. On reflection, there has never been a film trilogy or saga that has not lived up to the rule that the third in a franchise will in some way disappoint – I’m discounting Lord of the Rings in this, and to a lesser extent Army of Darkness. So I present the second in my Trilogy Trilogy: Spider-Man 3.
- Part 1: Setting the Trend
Open on a recap of the recap of the second film – a series of stills from the first film to bring people up to speed much like a recap page on a comic, to the trademark score of Danny Elfman (‘trademark’ in the sense of him having never changing his style or sound between films for the last 2 decades). So after a few minutes of recapping all seems to be getting ready for the story to commence – that is until the editors realise there is still the events of the second film to recap. Shit. Halfway through their lunch break they leap back to their Macs and rush together a handful of shots showing Harry uncovering Spider-Mans’ identity, Doc Ock talking to an unmasked Spidey, and Mary Jane jilting her fiancé at the altar to be with Peter, who she also now knows is Spider-Man…so basically a newcomer to franchise will be left wondering if Peter ever got as far as designing a mask to go with his colourful Spyjamas. You’d be forgiven at this point for thinking the second film wasn’t merely a collection of deleted scenes given the sparse recap runtime compared to that of the firsts’, but I digress. Finally the titles end with sand-like DNA being covered in oil and the film begins with Peter smugly informing the audience that he’s Spider-Man; the new icon of the city – you know, just like how he isn’t in the comics. Yep everything’s going pretty swimmingly for ‘ol Pete, however standing around and forcing startled children into watching the Jumbotron with him isn’t having the desired effect, so he goes to see his Mary Jane’s play. Time hop to that evening and MJ is giving her debut performance to a crowd of snooty old people who scorn her inability to sing (you would have thought that would have been a paramount requirement during the production managements’ casting selection process, but go figure). While Pete gazes on starry-eyed from the front row, in the box seat Harry Osborn is watching both Pete and MJ with interest. After the show as the snooty critics discuss how bad MJs’ performance was (seriously, what gives people the right to badmouth those with more talent than themselves….shut up), Harry corners Peter and gives him ill-placed grief over the death of his father, based on the very flimsy belief that Spider-Man would sneak into Norman’s bedroom and brutally stab him to death before going on to save countless lives around the city. Peter tries to make it clear that Norman was a psychotic killer who pranced around in Green Ranger armour and ended up killing himself, however Harry takes this news…not quite as well as Peter thought (“I was sure by the millionth time I told him he’d have twigged it”) and decides to juice himself up on Goblin Juice back in his dad’s SECRET LABORATORY OF EVIL GOBLIN MASKS AND WEAPONS OF MASS DESTRUCTION – Harry, this is a significant clue that Peter was likely telling the truth about your dad being a bit of a psycho. “I’ll prove my dad was legit by carrying on his legacy, only with a drastic makeover; out with the goblins, in with the Cool Boarders snow gear”.
In Central Park Peter and MJ are watching the shooting star shower from A WEB SUSPENDED MERE FEET OFF THE GROUND – forget the lack of mask, why even bother with the body suit if you care so little about protecting your dual identity? Too busy exchanging pace-slowing quips of loving devotion, the pair fail to notice the meteorite that crashes next to them from which crawls the oil-like symbiote, who is for the record far more polite than his previous comic and animated incarnations; choosing to hide away on Pete’s scooter than, say, grab a snack of human misery after a long flight through the cosmos. Elsewhere the most inept cops in all of New York are searching for prison escapee Flint Marko Polo, who missed a trick in becoming a sand monster when clearly he has the power of invisibility; despite chasing him in their car down an empty street, he is able to outwit them by ducking into some bins. Believing his own powers of transparency he decides to live out his paedophilic fantasies and breaks into a little girls room….oh thank God it’s just his daughter (they said dark times were coming but that would have been a little too far – maybe save it for Batman 4). He has a tender exchange with his terminally ill daughter, promising her he’ll come back with the money to treat her. However the mother wants none of it; “better she dies of a terribly horrific lung disease than accept money from a father who’d steal from a bent wrestling manager to save her life!”, a little unevenly on the moral scales. In his stripy new duds Flint flees into the night.
Deciding the plot is progressing too smoothly, Peter visits Aunt May with his declaration to marry MJ. This remains May of a long story that goes nowhere, but we are treated to this movies equivalent scene of pure awkwardness to rival Spider-Man 2’s cake and milk eating – that of him drinking tea as May gives away her one lasting piece of Ben’s Earthly memory (the man Peter essentially murdered); her engagement ring. “I can’t take this May – I don’t want that old lady stink in the house, and besides once you do this the film will have no more need for you”. But May is insistent and forces him out the door. Again throwing caution to the wind, Peter web-slings (Peter, not Spider-Man) across town; allowing Harry Hawks and his Amazing Flying Skateboard to easily track him down. Jesus man, did you learn nothing from V for Vendetta? The former friends scuffle and break shit over one another in an impressive areal battle, leading to a chase through the alleys that concludes with Peter attempting to selflessly garrotte Harry (travelling the speed of sound) with a web line – why are we rooting for this guy again? Comically smacking his head on every protruding object, Harry falls, eventually hitting the ground in a broken heap. Inspecting the mound of broken bones and mangled muscles that was once Harry, Peter tentatively asks if he’s okay – the ‘oh crap, I’ve done a bad thing’ response of a young boy who has just hit his sibling in the face with a baseball bat and knows he’s in shit from the ominous silence (and lack of breathing) it’s resulted in. Harry is whisked to hospital where he’ll be safe from Peter’s attempts to help him further.
While this is going on, Flint’s amazing powers have failed him, as now not only does he have the police on his tail but also their ravenous attack dogs – a bit much for a man of his rap sheet. Fleeing through the marshland of central New York (truly beautiful this time of year) he hops a fence without heed of the “DANGER: HORRIFIC EXPERIMENTS BEYOND THIS POINT” signs and falls into a big pit, having failed to notice a huge hole with a tuning fork overhead. Within the lab the science team cry “got one! Go, go, go” and start up the reactor (the real purpose of their life-fuck-upping trial is neither explained or made apparent, but it’s something to do with the effect of radioactive light and wind on sand from the evidence presented). Flint is deconstructed and disappears in a puff of bat-shit bonkers science gone mad. Having hauled their fat asses over the fence the cops scratch their heads and give up after looking in the nearest hole. New Yorks’ finest indeed.
Harry is diagnosed with a clinical case of Soap Opera Syndrome, or amnesia to the layman, so he no longer remembers Peter’s identity. Friends once more thanks to the severe mental trauma it requires to form such a bond, Harry and Pete share a gay moment somewhere between the Hobbit bed jumping scene from Return of the King, and Brokeback Mountain. MJ joins the pair, preventing Peter wailing on Harry’s head with a bedpan to prevent a dangerous memory of his Goblin days from reforming. Huzzah, the trio are reunited! Back at the sand pit, Flint reassembles his now sandy self and looks at the locket containing a photo of his fleshling daughter that is apparently made of adamantium. If Wolverine were sporitng this stuff then this fight would be a little more one-sided:
Flint strides off with purpose, completely unphazed that he was exploded at molecular level and is now made of living sand! Single track mind or what.
Peter ogles the wedding ring once belonging to his decrepit aunt, knowing that’s what every young woman dreams about wearing one day. MJ arrives with a critical review of her performance last night but gets no sympathy from Pete who is more wrapped up in relating Spider-Man to everyone else’s problems to empathise. Plus we learn that MJ has serious daddy issues, so maybe Pete was too preoccupied with thoughts on all the issues they’ll be ‘working out’ together – IN BED!…sex; I’m referring to sex. Pete’s crime scanner buzzes and he leaves MJ to wallow. Oooooh look, the symbiote!!! Nope, blinked and missed it.
We are finally introduced to the stunningly hot Gwen Stacy (She was pretty in the comics, and sexy in Ultimate Spider-Man, but yowza!), posing for a modelling shoot in some seedy guys office while across the way a construction crane of incomprehensible size (this thing could have been used to build the God Worm from Transformers 3) has a mid-life crisis, decides it never wanted to follow in its father’s footsteps as a builder, and sets out on a path of wanton destruction that leaves Gwen franticly dangling from an exposed girder . Forgetting there is an ongoing manhunt for Flint that has rendered all other crime insignificant, Captain Stacy has the entire police department attend the scene in order to……? But wait, here’s the bit that every nerd and his dog has been waiting for; a cab pulls up and out gets Eddie Brock – Jr., who uses his eagles eyes and powers of observation (who needs a symbiote *SPOILER ALERT*?) to alert the world that Gwen is in danger, adding to the girls’ father that she’s his girlfriend; “This would be awkward enough if my only child wasn’t about to fall to her death.” Fortunately, Gwen is central enough to the story for Spider-Man to save her. Brock fawns over Spider-Man and introduces himself as Spidey’s new official photographer in the making.
Brock steamrolls into Jameson’s office, preventing Ted Raimi and J.K.Simmons from completely stealing the show , and attempts to usurp Peters job as Spidey’s photographer. Jameson doesn’t ask if Eddie is a relative of the Eddie Brock already working the Bugle (as mentioned in Spider-Man 2002) and promises the winner of the Spider-Menace photo-off 2007 will be receive A DESK JOB. Wow, with stakes like this how could the movie possibly get any more intense?
Spider-Man is to be given the key to the city – and is even ‘nuff said’-ed by Stan the Man for Money Lee. To make things all the sweeter, Harry has been discharged and can is now free to play basket ball in the house. When he makes an inhuman catch of a falling vase, Peter prepares to break his skull open again for Amnesia round 2, but fortunately Harry is still brain damaged enough to remember anything. Unfortunately things aren’t going so well for MJ, who has been replaced due to her previously unnoticed inability to hit the right key/pitch; the producers for this whole production are useless if they can’t tell if the star can actually sing as required or even work out who should have told her she was fired before she embarrassed herself at the next rehearsal – what is this play, Spider-Man the Musical?
At the Spider-Man special key giving ceremony Peter blanks MJs troubles and makes out with Gwen on stage. Scorned, MJ turns to Harry for emotional support – and possibly angry sex. Mid way through tonguing Gwen’s tonsils there comes a ruckus from uptown and Spidey leaves to find Sandman Marko stealing from an armoured car. The fight ends with Flint one step closer to curing a sick child and Spidey with egg on his face – I hope you kick his teeth in for that one Spider-Man!
- Part 2: Could do with a Dash of White
That night Peter does what any nerd would do given the chance and enlists the help of Bruce Campbell to propose to MJ. Despite this sheer brilliant tactic Pete’s earlier on stage antics are brought up when Gwen happens to come to the restaurant too, and gives him a shoulder job right in front of MJ – the slut. MJ wigs and leaves, and the audience weeps knowing this could be the end of Brice’s cameo. How could life get any worse for Pete – how’s manslaughter for you? Next day, the Parkers are informed that the man who actually shot Uncle Ben (aka Flint Marko) has escaped custody and is on the run. To make matters worse, Pete has already met the man and had his ego bruised. “Why didn’t any of this come up in the inquest?” asks Pete; “we had a load of paperwork that day and frankly we didn’t care all that much – when it’s Martin Sheen then we’ll care. Sorry Tobey” replies Captain Stacy. Pissed that he killed the wrong man (he’s killed once in a case of apparent mistaken identity, lead to the death of Ben, just now nearly killed Harry, resulted in the death of Mrs Octavius which then lead to the murdering rampage of Doc Ock that followed, and inadvertently killed Norman Osborn. Seriously, why are we rooting for this murderer?! Bet he killed his parents with a red tricycle, a step ladder and a flight of stairs too), Pete decides the best course of action to make up for not killing the right guy earlier is to kill this new guy now – a great message for all the idolising children in the audience, life is so much simpler when you take out the morality. Going all domestic abuse stage 1 on MJ, Pete locks himself away and waits for hints over his police scanner until his sheer intensity puts him into a rage coma. As he sleeps he is raped by the symbiote squatter – yeah remember the symbiote? -, and wakes upside down in another man’s clothes, without a single thought of “holy Christ, how did I get here and why do I look like I washed up from the Gulf of Mexico after an oil rig disaster?” (Presumably because after fighting a man made of sand and pulling 2 beautiful women despite being Tobey Maguire, there is very little that would shock you).
Pete takes a sample of the symbiote to Dr. Connors who keeps it for tests – and now ironic promises that this’ll lead to him becoming the Lizard. Completly ignoring the sought after advice of Connors, he dons the black costume and goes after Flint, who has just robbed a bank and is escaping through the sewers, even though he could just fly away, safe from any forms of water. At the scene of the crime Spidey runs into Brock and breaks his camera for fun – fun, man this suit is evil incarnate. Brock takes out a secret camera as Spider-Man disappears into the sewer where he stalks Flint. After a lecture in murdering old men without giving Flint a chance to explain himself, Spider-Man goes ape-shit and grinds the man’s face off against a passing train (because everyone knows sand people feel nothing but past regrets) – begging the question ‘would he have still done this if Flint wasn’t made of sand?’ The skirmish continues until Spidey notices a water valve and uses his uncanny science brain to come up with a humane way to deal with his quarry; disintegration. “Justifiable murder!” cries Spider-Man as he liquidates the man arrested for trying to cure a little girl of a severe disease with a million gallons of water. Uncle avenged, Spidey calls it a night and rewards himself with a fringe.
After losing it at his landlord with uncharacteristic backbone, Pete proudly informs May that Flint Marko is dead – like a cat bringing a dead bird for its owners, and like said cat, he doesn’t receive the pleasant response he expected. She makes some speech about revenge being all consuming that’s a little lacking in subtly. Meanwhile Harry is gradually recovering his memory, specifically the one where he wants to bone MJ. So while Peter goes about his day, MJ and Harry get increasingly chummy over omelettes and the audience’s shared tedium. However, MJ is merely cock-teasing, causing Harry’s memories to return slightly. Willam Defoe pays Harry a visit and convinces him he will never make it as an A-list actor (lies!) and reminds him of memories past. With memory restored Harry goblins over to MJ’s apartment and gives a fatal ultimatum; the next day MJ dumps Peter while Harry looks on – oh the melodrama.
Now for the unintentionally greatest moment in the film. Pete and Harry are at a dinner, with Peter unaware of Harry’s returning memory as he chips away at Peter’s confidence and delivers a series of emotionally pounding assaults as he details the collapse of Pete’s relationship with MJ and how she has turned to him for the support she needs. Peter storms out, leaving Harry alone to exchange the single greatest line in contextual cinematic history when the waitress asks his how his pie is, and through a self-satisfied smile he replies “so good”. Doesn’t sound like much when read hear, but seriously, nothing else in the entire run time matches this one line on any level. Anyway, Pete takes a look back at Harry, who also turns to smile with smug knowingness at Pete. Peter realises Harry’s memory must have returned but before he can challenge him Harry has already disappeared – possibly ducking under the table for effect.
Finally deciding enough with this shit Peter storms Osborn manor and begins pummelling Harry. The fight concludes with Peter proving he was right about never having murdered an Osborn by throwing a grenade in Harry’s face. See, in hindsight if he’d done that from the time of Norman’s funeral he could have convinced Harry years ago and put the past behind them. What’s that; grenading someone in the face is often a fatal act of murder? Ooooh, that’s not going to change his mind then, what’s left of it on the walls anyway.
I’m not even going to comment on the next scene where Peter struts down the street as it’s been covered by many so countless times before. Suffice it to say;’ *sigh*.
At the Bugle Brock has doctored photos from meeting Spidey the other night and framed him for Sandman’s bank heist. Pete exposes the lie and Brock is fired as the Bugle is forced to print a retraction of the condemning feature. Sometime later-er, Sandman washes up in one of the many sewer outlets leading into Central Park, and despite having been diluted in a cities worth of sewerage, and distilled through incomprehensible numbers and miles of piping over several days, has managed to keep hold of his indestructible locked of his daughter. This picture is what inspires him to beat the living shit out of Spider-Man, not the previously mentioned crap bath.
Peter takes Gwen Glaaaaaaaar Stacy to the jazz bar MJ is also working at and shows himself to be a total dick to a wider art-appreciating audience when his plan to dance his way into Gwen’s pants cause the girl to realise it’s all a ploy to make MJ jealous – she leaves, as does the boner of every male in the audience (roughly 91, Japanese love pillow owning, %). Pete then starts a fight with the management in which he punches MJ – IN DA’ FACE. That shit only works on women when they know you really love them Pete. So with the mise en scene set to grey and raining we know Pete is more upset than he has ever been. Yep, liquidating a (sand)man and blowing up your best friend are nowhere near as evil as hitting a girl – take note kids. Realising he’s normally more wet than prick, he rationalises it’s the symbiote causing him to act this way. He enters the belfry of a chapel where Brock happens to be seeking guidance. While Peter struggles against the clingy new girlfriend he knocks the bell which causes the symbiote to react and weaken. A few more rings sends the parasite slithering away and onto the curious Brock below, drawn by his bat-like hearing to the distant sounds of Parker’s struggle (couple this with his earlier ability to identify people from a skyscrapers height and you’d think he’d be strong enough without becoming Venom). Like the rape victim wife of Straw Dogs Brock’s initial terror turns to grunts of pleasure as he bonds with the symbiote.
Pete stops by Aunt Mays apartment, causing many in the audience to groan and check their watches; ‘less than 30 min to go and Venom’s only just appeared – shit will we get our wet dreams’ worth in time?’ He tells May that he has decided not to propose to MJ, skipping over the whole abuse thing. May tells him that what will be will be, and that we’ll be seeing what we paid for real soon.
- Part 3: Battle Royal
Mistaking Venom for Spidey, Flint prepares to use his hammer-fist to beat the wall crawler to death, but is so amazed by his PG13 creepiness that he decides he should get more screen time (oh how little he knows). Venom then ruins the movie beyond reproach by speaking with a voice not too unlike that of Tropher Grace – if not entirely like Tropher Grace. He even peels back his awesome Venom face to reveal Tropher Grace, who certainly takes the edge off the whole brain eating monster thing that’d otherwise be doing the villain some justice.
I’m sure in context this image is terrifying and awsome. A deal is struck between the two that together they can have their revenge, and an ingenious plan is hatched; “remember MJ who’s been held captive by the bad guys in both previous films? Well I bet we can make it 3 for 3.” Outside her apartment MJ is kidnapped by Venom posing as a cab driver – justifiably, women are more terrified of night shift cab drivers than hypothetical space parasites so I can see the reasoning for this.
Sigh, and then it all goes horribly wrong. Together a man with down syndrome and a reporter with an accent so agonizingly ‘British’ it offends my English ears over at Fox News bring us painfully forced coverage of the hostage situation involving a talentless local actress, an evil Spider-Man (because this is the Fox network it’s safe to assume he’s evil because he’s black) and a ground made of man. All attempts to save the MJ have been futile, and Venom has even gone to the effort of writing a web note calling out Spidey in the civilised way that many nightmare creatures go about things. Realising that he’s never been in a 90s Batman film and so has no experience taking on more than one villain at a time, Peter makes the odd choice to go enlist Hellboy, the only other hero licensed by the tight-fisted Sony Pictures. Nah I’m just fucking with ‘ya – he goes to see Harry Headless Osborn.
Having recovered from an exploded head, Harry watches the news of MJ’s abduction through melty plastic, sad puppy eyes. Peter arrives and without a hint of remorse explains that they must look past their history and save her. How did he know Harry was alive after their last encounter you ask; why, who amongst us doesn’t know someone who’s walked away from a grenade to the face? Harry: “Save Mary Jane; the woman who dumped me -breaking my heart-, who then got with my best friend – who later threw a grenade at me -, at my recently murdered fathers’ funeral, and then cock-teased me into foolishly believing we could be together again as I was recovering from the amnesia her boyfriend gave me? That Mary Jane Watson?”……”So that’s a ‘no’ then?” says Spidey as he leaves. Lara Croft’s butler enters and tells Harry that he cleaned his fathers’ wounds and that Norman did apparently die at his own hands. Harry looks sad, before presumably beats the senile old cunt to death with his tea tray. Convoluted logic point; what the fuck?! How does this make any sense? How does the butler know the wounds were caused by the glider – did he know Norman was the Green Goblin; did he know about the secret lair; how does he know the wounds were from the glider – did he have schematics for top secret military tech? Even if he did know all this, by what definitive proof did he have that Spider-Man didn’t pick up the glider and ram it into his chest? Why was he not surprised to see who Spider-Man really was? And most vitally, if he truly did love Harry like a grandson then why did he allow him to descend to this level of madness to the point he developed a blood feud with his best/only friend, became an obsessive alcoholic recluse, and followed the same path as his father that clearly leads only to death? Why, why, WHY did he feel this was only worth mentioning after Harry took a fucking GRENADE TO THE FACE?
No doubt kicking himself, Spider-Man goes it alone, after an overly-patriotic shot of him against an entire screen filled with the Stars and Stripes. He enters the spider web from which MJ’s cab is suspended hundreds of feet from the ground. Retardedly, MJ has to do the Akbar and tell Spidey it’s a trap, as if it wasn’t obvious, but all too late, for Venom is on the scene. Well, for a few seconds anyway, then he does the less scare Brock-face (hurrah, that’s what geek boys have waited to see these last two hours/18 years: more Tropher Grace). Spider-Man tries to convince Brock that the suit is evil, but he doesn’t mind ‘cause he was a bit of a slimy bastard before choking on an alien cocktail at confession. He alludes to raping MJ after he’s killed Spidey and blessedly returns to Venom-face, only for pocket-mining fanboys to groan as Spidey frees himself by falling bravely away from the hastily last minute villain. Avoiding breaking a single bone after falling 40 stories, Spidey is attacked by the ground – Flint style, as Sandman forms into a gigantic lumbering behemoth strangely incapable of speech. Spider-Man is flung back into the building, throttled by Venom (trademark move) and pounded by a sand fist (less erotic than it sounds). Spidey looks about dead when a grenade goes off in Sandman’s face, the trademark signalling the appearance of Harry who has incorporated the act into his costumed persona. Venom flees despite being seconds away from achieving his aims, and together Spidey and Harry go to MJ’s aid – taking her to safety inside the tower of monstrosities. While Harry takes on Sandman Spidey is left with Venom. Harry eventually pumpkin bombs Sandman enough for him to lose control of his gigantic form. Spidey is beaten savagely by Venom, but saved from a last minute stabbing by Harry leaping in front of the blade – oh the irony –, his body dumped over the building edge to the lower floors. Remembering the symbiotes weakness Spidey uses his science to trap Venom inside a pretty cool cage and striking the bars until the sonic vibrations force the alien off of Brock, with the negative effect of royally pissing it off. The symbiote grows into a giant hulking monster, leaving Spider-Man the only option of blowing it up with a GRENADE TO THE FACE. Harry’s agony at the loss of his life and trademark move can barely be heard over the screams of weakling Brock as he leaps to the aid of the GIANT ALIEN DEATH-BEAST and is blown up – just like in the of allllll his comic appearances….wait a minute…..
Below MJ finds Harry, while up top Sandman confronts Spider-Man; “Listening now? Do I have your full undivided attention? Good: I DIDN’T MEAN TO KILL YOUR UNCLE! IT WAS AN ACCIDENT! GOT IT?” Spidey forgives him, but fails to apologise for face-grinding him against a train or melting him in shit. Rather than wait for Spider-Man to never get around to this, Flint turns to sand and flies away. FLIES. With the important closure with the man he’s met and killed twice out of the way, Pete finally decides it’s time to see his best friend who risked his life to save him. He and MJ cry over Harry as he tells them he loves them both and dies. Epilogue: Sometime later peter goes to MJ’s bar and things are left open between them. No Carnage or nothing.