Does Whatever an Emo Can

I should have known right from the start. For God's sake, the movie's poster features Spider-man dressed all in black, crying in the rain. The only way Spidey could be more emo is if he were listening to Death Cab while crying in the rain. Okay, so he's in a full facemask, so you can't really tell if he's crying, but he cries something like seventeen times in this movie, so it's a safe bet that he is. Ultimately, I'm not really disappointed in Spider-man 3. It wasn't good. It had good parts, but it wasn't good. But really, it was about what I expected. It was pretty dumb and thoroughly silly. Some cool fight scenes, some good special effects, far too much stuff crammed into it, and a story that didn't make a lick of sense.

So Spider-man starts wearing a black suit which boosts his power because it's actually an alien that came to Earth in a meteor that crashes in Central Park not twenty feet from Spidey, but he doesn't notice it since he's too busy making out with Mary Jane in a giant web, and hitches a ride on his scooter and hangs out in his apartment until a dramatically appropriate moment and then decides to become his costume. Spidey's new black suit makes him evil and aggressive and stuff, and we know this because Peter Parker starts wearing shaggy emo-hair. This is in the grand tradition of the "Star Trek" Mirror Universe, but it would be perhaps just a bit too implausible for Evil Peter to start rocking the Evil Spock Goatee. So emo-hair it is. And when Evil Peter Parker is out on the town, watch out, because Evil Peter Parker saw Saturday Night Fever four times, and Staying Alive twice, and he knows all of Travolta's moves. Evil Peter shows off his dance moves while on a date with Gwen Stacy, who is in this movie for no particular reason. Spidey, ever the smooth pimp, for no discernable reason lets Gwen french kiss him while Mary Jane, the women to whom he is planning to propose marriage in the very next scene, is standing ten feet away. Good thinking, Web-head. Peter says a bunch of dickish things to MJ and Aunt May pops up every once in a while to offer sage advice. Meanwhile, Harry Osborn, who you will recall has sworn to destroy Spider-man, actually gets Hollywood-style amnesia from a bump on the noggin and becomes Peter's friend again and spends a great deal of screen time grinning like a goofball. Also meanwhile, Peter has a professional rival who wants his job at the Daily Bugle, but Evil (emo-hair) Peter points out that he totally faked his photos and humiliates him in front of like, everybody, and then the rival just happens to be standing around nearby when Spidey decides to rid himself of the alien symbiote/evil costume thingy, which he then just sorta drops like it was a cigarette butt. Guess who's there to pick it up. Also also meanwhile, classic Spider-man foe Sandman runs around and does some stuff for some reason. And then everybody fights.

It's not a terrible movie. Sizeable chunks of it are quite entertaining. The FX guys are getting better and better at creating footage of Spider-man swinging around and fighting evil villains. The fight between Spidey and Sandman in Manhattan's apparently vast and cavernous subway tunnels is great, as is the initial fight between an out-of-costume Peter and Harry in his "New Goblin" guise. The climactic battle between, well, everybody, is well-staged, though I didn't really understand why Sandman turned into the Sta-Puft Marshmallow Man. The obligatory Stan Lee and Bruce Campbell cameos are both well-done and quite amusing. Nice to see Stan get to use one of his trademark phrases - though how they're going to make it make sense for him to say, "Excelsior!" in the inevitable Spider-man 4 is beyond me.

And because this movie has already made all the money there is, Spidey 4 is indeed inevitable. I just don't know what they can possibly do with it. They tried to cram far too much into this one.

It's funny - Venom is far from my favorite of Spidey's colorful villains. In fact, I think he's a pretty dull character, overall. But the Eddie Brock/Venom stuff is what works best here. I think the movie would have been far better overall if they hadn't tried to include the Sandman stuff. Complete the "Harry hates Spider-man" storyline they've been building since the first movie, sure. Give Venom more to do and more screen time, great. That's a pretty solid movie there. But cramming an extra villain in just made the whole thing too absurd.

I think my favorite part of the movie, though, is actually from the "Sandman origin story" scene, just because it really captures the flavor of the original '60s Marvel Comics. I loved it - as Flint Marko flees the police, he climbs a chain link fence with a sign on it that reads: "Keep Out: Particle Physics Testing Area." Lovely - just as though it came from the mind of Stan Lee via the pen of Steve Ditko. If only the rest of the movie could have had the same sense of humor.