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  • Canister X Movie Review #71: Spider-Man 3 (2007)

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    Spider-Man 3 (2007)
    Written by Sam Raimi, Ivan Raimi and Alvin Sargent
    Directed by Sam Raimi
    Runtime 139 min.
    4 out of 5

    It’s triple trouble for Spider-Man in this third installment in the mega franchise.

    Life is good for Peter Parker (Tobey Maguire). He’s got the girl, about to propose, making bucks, the good people of New York love their Friendly Neighborhood Spider-Man like it’s their job—yeah, everything is smooth sailing.

    As if.

    Suddenly, a mysterious new villain shows up out of nowhere: the New Goblin (though he doesn’t refer to himself as such in the film). Quickly, we find out it’s Harry Osborne (James Franco), Peter’s once-best friend out for revenge because he thinks Peter murdered his dad.

    One villain Peter can handle, especially since his first altercation with the suped-up Harry Osborne ends rather quickly. But no, things quickly get worse for our favorite wallcrawler when fugitive Flint Marko (Thomas Haden Church) gets himself trapped in a molecular blaster thingy and becomes the shape-shifting Sandman. Also adding to Peter’s troubles is ultra-hungry photographer Eddie Brock (Topher Grace), who wants nothing more than to make a name for himself in the newspaper business.

    Unbeknownst to Peter, while he and Mary Jane Watson (Kirsten Dunst) are on a date in a NY park, a mysterious meteor lands from the heavens, leaking a strange black goop that follows Peter home and eventually latches onto him, transforming him into someone darker, meaner and more spider-powered than ever before. When Peter finally realizes his new black suit is slowly destroying his life and he’s alienating everyone he’s ever cared about, he manages to ditch the suit in a cool church bell tower scene that screams Peter’s search for redemption, but also Eddie Brock’s search for revenge. The black goop lands on Brock, carrying a copy of Peter’s spider-powers with it, transforming Eddie into the menacing Venom.

    It’s Black Spider-Man versus three villains in this web-slinging rollercoaster ride that scratches Spider-Man fans right where they itch!


    The good:


    The spider effects keep getting better with each installment, especially in the area of you feeling like you’re right there with Spider-Man zipping through the air. That scene where Gwen Stacy (Bryce Dallas Howard) falls off that building and Spidey has to cut through the air in between falling debris to save her? Pure good.

    The story had some good twists, especially building up the suspense while we waited for the black symbiote to latch itself onto Peter. Same with Peter proposing to MJ. The whole “it not working out” thing was well done.

    James Franco played the villain wonderfully. I genuinely hated him after a while, the big tip of the hat being to when he fooled Peter into thinking he was his buddy again only to screw him over big time later on.

    Topher Grace was easily the best actor in the film. He was funny, cocky, yet at times you sincerely felt bad for him.

    The fight scenes were great. The symbiote effects for the living suit were fantastic, too.

    The ending with Harry Osborne—even after all he did during the film—made tears prick the corners of my eyes.


    The not-as-good:


    One would think a major lesson had been learned from Batman & Robin: too many characters is just plain stupid. Unfortunately, Spider-Man 3 didn’t take that warning to heart. The film had way too much going on. I know they had to wrap up some story threads as established in the first two movies, but when all was said and done, things just felt way too rushed and I know I’m not the only fan to think so. If it were me, I would have left it at two villains: the New Goblin and Sandman. Or just do Venom and leave it alone. (And if anyone knows the Venom story, from the comics or the 1990s Spider-Man cartoon, you know that Venom’s mythology is more than enough for a feature film.) I really felt short-changed regarding Venom. So much time was spent building up to him—the origin, Peter going dark, Eddie Brock’s character, both before and after he inherits the suit—that by the time Venom showed up, there wasn’t much time left in the movie for him to really be the bad guy fans know him to be.

    There’s really not much to complain about with this movie other than it feeling very rushed and cluttered. Over all, it still was a solid flick, but my least favorite of the three.

    Rumor has it that Spider-Man 4 is getting back to basics so I’m eagerly anticipating that one.

    Also stars: J.K. Simmons, Bruce Campbell, Rosemary Harris, James Cromwell, Ted Raimi, Bill Nunn, Willem Dafoe, Dylan Baker, Stan Lee and others.

  • Canister X Movie Review #70: Spider-Man 2 (2004)

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    Spider-Man 2 (2004)
    Written by Alvin Sargent
    Directed by Sam Raimi
    Runtime 127 min.
    5 out of 5

    Who ever said being a superhero would be easy?

    In this second installment in the Spider-Man franchise, Peter Parker has his back against the wall as he tries to juggle life as a student, being best friends with Mary Jane Watson, carrying the guilt of his uncle’s death, freelancing for the Daily Bugle, delivering pizza, and, of course, being ever on-call as your Friendly Neighbourhood Spider-Man.

    No matter how hard he tries, Peter just can’t seem to balance everything at once and the constant sacrifices he makes in his personal life so he can help others wears him down . . . down . . . down . . . until he can’t take it anymore and his spider-powers begin to change.

    Then vanish.

    The timing couldn’t have been worse, either, because Dr. Otto Octavius’s energy device backfired and has fused four robotic arms to his body, their AI worming its way into his brain, controlling him. All they care about is fulfilling their purpose and they don’t care who they have to hurt to recreate the device they were made for.

    Dr. Octopus’s (Doc Ock’s) rampage through New York is met with little resistance until our favorite web-slinger attempts to take him on.


    This movie thrills the inner fanboy much more than its predecessor and officially is my favorite—so far—in the Spider-Man series. This flick carries near start-to-finish classic superhero goodness: stellar aerial battles, eye-popping web-slinging, dual identity troubles, nerd-can’t/won’t-get-the-girl issues, a hardcore villain bent on his mark, trials, sacrifice—all crammed into a-little-over-two-hour movie. But the pacing works and doesn’t feel over cluttered at all.

    You feel for Peter Parker every minute of this film, both when he’s at the top of his game and when he’s at the bottom, and when he loses his spider-powers, your heart sinks and you cry out, “No! Not Peter! His powers are part of who he is. How can you take them away?”

    Tobey Maguire was extremely believable in this film and brought a real depth to Parker that—though was present in the first one—really shone through in this. And Alfred Molina as Doc Ock? Such duality. When you first meet Otto Octavius, he genuinely seems like a nice guy, an almost fatherly figure in a way, but when he loses his project and those he cares about, things switch and he barely resembles the man he once was. Yet deep within, you see him struggling against the mechanical arms that have taken over his body and mind.

    J.K. Simmons as J. Jonah Jameson was hilarious as always, and Kirsten Dunst as MJ—there was more maturity in the character this time around and though she still acted kind of “high school-ish,” you also saw someone struggling with who they were—more specifically, trying desperately to reach out to the man she’s fallen for but who is pushing her away.

    Spider-Man 2 thrilled me to pieces. I was there on opening night and I left the theatre all smiles and in a state of disbelief at how downright cool it was. I wasn’t sure if it would top the first one because most sequels—’til that point because the Superman movies and the previous set of Batman films were pretty much what we had to go on except for X2—usually don’t nail it like the first one.

    I was proven wrong.

    This movie rocked so hard I went back a couple more times and bought it on DVD as soon as I could.

    Check this flick out. You’re in for an amazingly cool, web-slinging good time.


  • Canister X Movie Review #69: Spider-Man (2002)

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    Spider-Man (2002)
    Written by David Koepp
    Directed by Sam Raimi
    Runtime 121 min.
    4 out of 5

    This flick was decades in the making. So many legal setbacks forced Spider-Man to bounce from rights holder to rights holder before finally finding a place with Sony to deliver the goods.

    The hype surrounding this movie was astounding. I remember getting my copy of the soundtrack before the movie came out, and not just that, but also a copy of the “Hero” single by Nickelback as well. Seeing Spidey swinging over a golden-bathed New York on its cover got me even more stoked for this film.

    And so, opening night, I went with my dad to check the movie out, my heart pounding with excitement, the previews before the movie taking excruciatingly long.

    Peter Parker (Tobey Maguire), geek extraordinaire, gets bitten by a radioactive “super spider” while on a class fieldtrip as he tries to get a picture for the school paper of next-door-neighbour-slash-love-of-his-life Mary Jane Watson (Kirsten Dunst). Following a bout of sickness, Peter wakes up the next morning no longer a skinny geek but instead buff and tough, wondering what happened to him. Adding to the weirdness, he’s suddenly able to do things he wasn’t able to do before: no need for glasses; lots of energy; fantastic agility; amazing strength; sticks to walls; shoots sticky white web-things out of his wrists; can sense bad things before they happen. So, like any good teenager with superpowers, he uses them to impress the girl of his dreams, in his case, taking on a spider-like persona in a wrestling match to win some big money to buy a car. While on the way there, he fights with his uncle, Ben, and leaves in a huff, only to later find out the burglar he let get away—who had stolen from the wrestling folks who didn’t pay Peter what he was worth—killed his uncle in an effort to swipe a getaway car.

    Also going on, Norman Osborne (Willem Dafoe) is having trouble with his company and so, in a fit to prove to the military his superhuman formula works so he can sell it to them, he tries it on himself . . . but with dire side effects: the creation of an alternate personality which is eventually dubbed “the Green Goblin.” When things go sour for the company, the board of directors votes him out and Norman goes into full villain mode to exact his revenge.

    Across the city, Peter has learned that with great power comes great responsibility and so avenges his uncle’s death by using his new spider-like powers for good and becomes the Amazing Spider-Man.

    It’s hero versus villain, Spider-Man versus the Green Goblin, in this superheroic slugfest/love story/coming-of-age movie that made the wait for this flick well worth it.


    To be honest, however, the crazy overhype of this movie did put a damper on it for me when I first saw it. Straight up: when I left the theatre opening night I left disappointed. Not that I thought it was awful, not by any means, it was just there was this lingering “Is that it?” feeling that hung over me as I made my way back to the car.

    If anything, Spider-Man is definitely an origin movie, something to set the stage for more to come, giving a rich backstory and atmosphere not just to Peter Parker’s world, but to each of the supporting characters, even J. Jonah Jameson (who J.K. Simmons played brilliantly, by the way).

    The effects were top notch save for a couple moments where you clearly saw that the Peter that was swinging and jumping from rooftop to rooftop was animated. Speaking of the swinging, when Spidey took you up and down through the deep concrete chasms of New York—man, you felt like you were there, swinging along with him. I heard they even developed a “spider-cam” for this movie. Cool. And that heartbreaking scene at the end where Peter turns down MJ? My heart bled for the guy.

    Do I stand by Spider-Man? Absolutely. I saw it again in the theatre, going back with the mindset of “seeing it for what it was,” and I adored it afterward. Out of the three movies in this series so far, it’s my second favorite. As for my favorite-favorite, just read my reviews.

    This was a superhero movie done right, done well and done just plain cool.