Three words: Too many plots.
Let me explain why I think that’s what did this movie in. See, movies, or all story telling for hat matter, has to have a main plot. The chief character struggling to maintain his relationship. Or having to face a formidable enemy. Or needing to keep his job and sanity together whilst hurdle on top of hurdle are forced his way.
In retrospect, that’s what Spiderman I and II were pretty good at. Classic, simple and effective story – telling. A simple, ordinary guy with not a care in the world is thrown into a situation where he needs to deal – and in the process, develop maturity and strength of character in a hurry. THAT is what the drama is about Spiderman (as opposed to out – for – revenge Batman or born – to – be – a – hero Superman). EVERYTHING ELSE, as I’ve said so many times before in other reviews, is secondary to the chief protagonist’s struggles. The subplots, the pretty girl, the effects (MOST ESPECIALLY the effects), and all others are all secondary to the main story.
But the problem is, which plot was the main one? To be honest, until now, many days after I caught the first showing not only can I not discern which is the main story, but neither can I recall the details as well, obviously because there was far too much it wants you to remember.
Why? We, the audience, can only take so much. It’s like being in a room where everyone is talking at the same time. All of the stories may, or may not, be compelling, but we still need to deal with it all piecemeal.
And so knowing thus, I entered into the movie at 12:30PM, I noted the time on my watch, 1:34PM, and wondered where the symbiote was actually gonna show up. Sure it had manifested itself many times before, but it had yet to make an impact. The mere fact that I actually take pains to check the time, to my mind is indicative of a failure of the plot(s) somewhere, and the whole thing lumbered through until the final ending.
Which is sad, really. I mean, I like thousands around the world grew up with Spiderman. I loved the guy and his light – hearted ‘I don’t take this all too seriously‘ approach to crimefighting. Here was a super hero who didn’t have to prove himself, who didn’t have a chip on his shoulder, who hadn’t a care in the world other than his Dear Aunt May and Mary Jane, but was just as powerful and just as strong as all the rest. Those more than anything were the reasons behind Spidey’s success, and which triumphantly carried it through Spidey I and II.
Spiderman, both the comics and the movies are, to me, the equivalent of a commercial taking the humorous route rather than the serious or sexy route in delivering it’s message. Ok I know that’s a stretch here, but let me explain (I can hear the groans from here). See, let’s pretend you wanna make a public service commercial about something important, like say, the environment. Of all the methods available, I always prefer the humorous. Why? Because the topic is serious enough, and will always be taken seriously anyway. Taking the sexy route (using a half naked girl for example) is too easy and hard – sell, while taking the serious route makes it doubly serious and near unpalatable. The funny route, therefore, is best. Maybe crack a joke, show something cute, whatever. Borat and hundreds of comedians will understand. Being funny gets people’s attention and delivers your message effectively, without having to shove it down their throats.
Spiderman was like that. Peter Parker was like that. Cracking jokes while battling criminals. Fast one liners. Quick repartees. All the while dealing – and winning – against the bad guys and driving home the obvious – that crime does not pay, and that if you try anyway, Spiderman will get you.
Of all the plots in this confusing version III, I think the one that probably should’ve been the main was the Sandman plot. The Sandman (William Baker) had always been an interesting story, having the same qualities of most of Spiderman’s other enemies of being torn between good and evil due to the circumstances they were in, as opposed to just plain old I wanna get rich baddies, a trait shared by Doc Oc and the Green Goblin, which contributed to their success.
In fact, Parker’s decision to forgive him at the end is the only time I actually started paying attention to the movie again. Finally, a story! – or so I thought, until afterwards when he had to tend to the other stories, about the symbiote and the Goblin, and of course his relationship with Mary Jane – and maybe whatever else plot that was going on, I lost count.
So yes I’m quite disappointed with this one. It almost feels as if too many people with too many ideas had decided to get involved in it, the result becoming a mess of compromises to give each one their way. Although I don’t think this will end the Spiderman saga (unlike Daredevil or the Catwoman which are effectively dead), Spidey like Batman will continue to live on and I will always watch and anticipate each one. Except that this one will have a virtual asterisk or marker beside it’s name, marking it to be the least enjoyable one.