Wednesday, May 09, 2007

"Spider Man 3" and "Eragon". Both Sink Beneath the "Average" Mark, but One Buries the Needle

6:20 a.m. is too early to be blogging.

My allergies, which I'm thinking are related to grass, are the worst of my life and they've woken me out of a sound sleep. I've never really had them before, and the fact that they've developed at a time when I'd always thought I'd go through my life immune to pollen in all its forms is pretty depressing. It's just another bit of evidence that, sometime in the unknowable future, even more unpleasant afflictions and maladies are likely to develop. In other words, my prolific nostrils and red, irritated eyes are additional proof I am not invincible. Whether you want to know or not, I'll tell you that the roof of my mouth feels like the thinnest of membranes. Up till this past week, I always thought that just above the roof of my mouth were layers and layers of impenetrable skull meat. But now I realize that a series of strenuous tongue-pokes could puncture that membrane and allow me to probe the interior of my skull, whether with my tongue or a finger, in no time flat. Yeah, it's gross, but it's my blog, so I'll bore you with whatever I want.

Anyway, onto movie reviews. [Beware: Below Thar Be Spoilers.]

1.) Spider Man 3. There's a point late in "Spider Man 3" when it becomes clear that Sam Raimi has made a less-than-great film and that there's no hope of saving it. The moment happens in an alleyway in which Sandman (Thomas Haden Church, or Lowell from "Wings") is fighting Venom (Topher Grace, or Eric Foreman from "That 70's Show"). Who knows why they're fighting, they just are. It's what people in costumes do. They quit fighting for a minute at which point the black Venom-suit skin tendrilizes away from Topher's face and Topher suggests that, as neither of them alone can kill "the spider" alone, that they should team up and do it. Lowell thinks about it a second, and then, reluctantly, sadly, agrees. The scene was lazy, expository, implausible, wildly coincidental (among many many wild coincidences that punctuate the movie), and served solely to move the plot forward. The scene implied that this unwieldy monster-budgeted behemoth called "Spider Man 3" had really and truly gotten away from Sam Raimi. If this shitty, throwaway scene was the best way Raimi and his screenwriters could think of to set up the ridiculous, overlong finale, then all hope was lost.

I didn't hate "Spider Man 3", and I don't think it's a terrible movie, but considering the two fantastic films that came before, this second sequel is a big disappointment. The thing we were all worried about going in to the movie, namely that Raimi had crammed too many villains and subplots into this thing a la "Batman Forever", turned out to be exactly right. With hindsight being what it is, I think had the screenwriters taken out the entire Sandman sub-plot and focused on the Eddie Brock/Venom storyline, "SP3" might have been in a league with the brilliant "Spider Man 2". But even then I'm not so sure success would have been assured. Raimi's masterly understanding of the subject and tone of these films faltered a few times in this movie, but never so egregiously as during the jazz club scene, an adjunct of the Venom plot-line. As I watched Peter Parker express the depths of his dark side through jaunty "mean" dancing, I remember thinking, "This is pretty weird." But since it was Raimi, I figured he had everything well in hand; he'd pull it out. But just a few seconds later I understood. Raimi or no, the scene was just bad. And so was quite a bit of what came after.

Though there were a lot of fun sequences in the movie (OK, a few), overall "SP3" just felt muddled and rudderless. A disappointment.

2.) Eragon. The true badness of this movie is not at all apparent in the trailers cut for this movie. From a viewing of "Eragon"'s trailers, the film looks like a fairly low-rent dragon movie for the 12-13-year old male set, but not any kind of cinematic travesty. There are warning signs, sure. The appearance of not just Jeremy Irons, but also John Malkovich, adherents to the I'll Be In Anything school of acting, made me suspect true and depthless badness, but the fantastic dragon effects threw me off the scent. (They are good.) The movie is a testament to the trailer cutters' skills. "Eragon" is abysmal. It is a no-rent dragon movie for kids. The novel on which "Eragon" was based was written by then-16-year old Christoper Paolini, and that's exactly how it plays -- like a 16-year old wrote it. It was as if Paolini had only ever seen "Star Wars", had only ever read a novelization of Lucas's screenplay for "Star Wars", and then decided to write a new version of "Star Wars", except his version would have the same characters but with different names, dragons, and he'd stretch out the story over 3 or more books. The film ends with little to no resolution of the larger plot: for example, Malkovich plays the evil king in "Eragon", and the film ends without our Skywalkerian hero having anything to do with him. I don't want to write any more on this, so I'll just put it simply: the movie's crap.

Wow. I spent about 2 hours writing this post. Crazy.

Anyway. Enjoy your Wednesday.

5 comments:

blankfist said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
blankfist said...

Dearest Crane, that scene where Sandman and Venom team up didn't exactly go the way you wrote it. At that point in the story, Sandman was already purposely looking for Spider-man, and when he saw Venom swinging past he obviously mistook him for Spidey. He even says, I believe, something to the effect of 'You're not Spider-man' just before he tosses him away. And, that's when Venom propositions him. Was it too conventional and easy? Maybe. But, not nearly as horrible as you described it.

And you know what? Now hearing that you thought the ending was too long and too big, and that you felt the same about Pirates I & II, I think Zodiac [will be renamed obviously] is ready for a polish. You're a mean, mean man. Mister Crane. Mean, mean man.

blankfist said...

Spaced Male Telepathy Finger Gun Battle

blankfist said...

Were You Checking Her Out?

Craig Moorhead said...

Yeah, I think I'm gonna skip SP3 this summer. I haven't heard much good about it.