But I figured that if I didn't actually write my own review for Spider-Man 3, that my friends list might wonder. I mean, the uber-Spidey-fangirl not reviewing it? ohnoes!
I had a great time last night, a lot of it due to seeing it with a fellow Spidey fanfic writer (jenn_1), but before I go to the LJ-cut, I want to make a few things clear.
1) The movie was not as good as Spider-Man 2 (the film that thrust me into the fanfic world), but I still enjoyed it very much.
2) I am an unrepentant Peter/MJ shipper - this bias is very much in place as I review.
3) I came to Spidey through the movies, but have since become a huge comics reader. Except for portions of the 1990s (the clone saga particularly), I am quite familiar with all of the major storylines, and I read every Spidey title (except Marvel Adventures) religiously each month.
4) I completely spoilerfied myself for this movie - I looked at every pic I could, I read the novel, and reread sections many times. I read every review I could find before seeing it. This tends to ruin movies for some folks. Not me. I find I enjoy things more.
But even so, I question my feelings about the movie, knowing my biases. I waited impatiently and excitedly for three years, immersed myself in all the hype, and became as knowledgeable about the subject as I knew how to. So I present this review aware of my tendencies as a fan, trying to weigh both the good and the bad. So here goes, and not at all as organized as I hoped:
The opening scenes were brighter and more campy than I expected - but I believe it made sense with Peter's good feelings about the world. Peter is no longer an angsty loner - he's got a girl, the city loves him, his school career is back on track... But it did seem a little at odds with the tone of the last film.
The Peter/Harry storyline is the one I was looking forward to the most. Anyone who has read my movieverse trilogy probably realizes that Peter/MJ is only slightly higher in my esteem than the Harry/Peter conflict. I am really glad that care was taken with this part of the story. I do think that the Goblin serum affected Harry slightly differently than Norman. We see in Spider-Man 1 that Norman was already a driven narcissist, and these tendencies were amplified after becoming the Goblin. With Harry, he only has his need to avenge his father. So his insanity comes out in the voice of his father in his mind, as well as his need to destroy Peter. I would be appalled if he had turned into a mini-Norman.
I really adored the Harry-amnesia scenes. All of Harry's conflict over his relationship with his father and with Peter were simply erased. He remembered being friends with MJ and Peter, but he had obviously blocked out all the bad because of his trauma. So he was a happier version of himself than we had ever seen - almost artificially happy. But when it all comes tumbling back to him, it is so poignantly sad.
But by far, the best part for me was when Harry played MJ against Peter. He pretends to still be in the dark during the coffee shop scene, after he has forced MJ to break up with Peter. And then the "How was the pie?" "Soooo good." lines made me squee with fangirlish glee! I must make/beg for an icon of that look on his face ASAP. This whole section was shades of "Enquiring Minds"... Booyah!
I did really like the Harry and Peter showdown in the mansion, although it was a little too one-liner-ish in places. What really rocked my socks was seeing the two of them fight out of costume, no holds barred. The increasing of Bernard's (the butler) role in the film was good as well. He only appeared briefly in the other two (enough that I used him just as briefly in my fics), but here it was obvious that he had been watching the Osborns with a keener eye than expected.
Finally, did anyone else thrill at seeing Peter and Harry working together in the Battle Royale? The moment when Peter is riding the glider with him, the camaraderie - *twirls* Even though I knew it was coming, I couldn't help cheering inside. And I knew of his death as well... and one of my disappointments was that some of the conversation between Peter, MJ and Harry from the book was cut out here. Especially where Peter says, "Don't leave us, pal. We need you. MJ needs you." And Harry replies, "It's you she loves. It's only, ever, been you." (Which sounds a little familiar to me... *wink*) The conversation between Peter and Sandman actually happens in the book before Harry is pierced through with the glider. In the film, it's aggravating that Peter wastes time doing that when his friend is dying! I am not sure why that was changed. :(
I thought Mary Jane's Broadway performance was beautiful and that she did a lovely job - but the novel made it more clear that Peter was viewing her performance with rose-colored glasses. So it was more of a shock when she was fired in the movie, than in the book. However, I wanted to whack her both during the movie and the book for not coming out and telling Peter why she was so upset. I do understand that she wanted to keep Peter's special day as special as possible... but still. *whack*
I loved the whole idea of Spidey Day, and it really was a great scene until the kiss with Gwen! Really bad judgement on Peter's part. I loved the little boy saying "Don't do it!" though. He had different reasons for it, but at least one person in the crowd scene shared my opinion! I thought that MJ actually handled it very well - who wouldn't be upset?
One review I read recently was very anti-MJ, saying that she was whiny and selfish, that they should ditch the character and go with Gwen, who is sweet and hot. Hello? So all superhero girlfriends have to be arm candy who worship their men - and are not allowed to have flaws? Sheesh. It reminds me of the whole anti-Lois rants after Superman Returns. Bravo, MJ, for actually having a personality. As upset and peevish as she was, she realized that she was behaving that way, and was trying to be understanding. But a girl can only take so much. I appreciated that their relationship was not all sunshine and roses... they do have to get through this adjustment period before they can commit to each other in marriage.
Yes, I am just as unhappy about the retconning of Uncle Ben's death as everyone else is. When this news leaked out a year ago, I was more than a little horrified. But I also know that Sam Raimi has a need to tie every single villain to Peter Parker's personal life, not just his crimefighting life. So I was willing to look at it with an open mind.
In the novel, there are several scenes that were cut from the movie. There was a lot more of Flint trying to save his daughter, even going to a scientist with the loads of cash he stole to help find a cure. He appears to his daughter in the playground as a sand castle, and Penny and her mother come to the construction site because she realizes this is her daddy doing this. It's Penny that begs Flint to realize what he's doing is not worth it - that the doctor tried and couldn't help her. She's the one who asks Spider-Man to forgive Flint. And the little family tries to deal with everything while Peter rushes off to continue battling Venom. I'm not sure why this is different in the movie - because it would have been a lot more believable than what did happen. I really enjoyed Marko's story in the novelization, and in the film it's just not as well-explained as it should have been. No wonder everyone is asking "What happened to Penny?"
I expected to gleefully hate Eddie, and I did, but I also loved his smarmy cockiness. Every scene with him in it was fun and interesting - and he played the selfish outsider very well. It is unfortunate that Eddie and Venom was saved for the final section only - but I don't mind that, not being a big Venom fan. Instead we were treated to an awful lot more of:
Black Suited Peter:
I warred between utter delight and utter embarrassment during all of these scenes. I was completely looking forward to seeing Peter strut his stuff and the Jazz Room dance scene (which was even MORE embarrassing in the book than in the film). I want to watch that bit over and over and over again now. The "Dig on This" line as a close up of his lips was to die for... I am disappointed that they didn't show Peter playing the piano at May's apartment earlier in the film, in order to explain why he could suddenly play the piano, but eh.
Other random notes:
**Yes, I agree that May should have come out and said she knows he's Spider-Man. What are they waiting for? Come on!
**And yes, there were too many storylines and villains.
**There were a lot more corny lines than there should have been, but I generally liked the humorous parts a lot.
**Gwen - I thought I would hate her, just as a gut reaction to her stepping in on MJ's man, but she was nice and her apology to MJ makes up for everything. If I write a fic post-SM3, she will definitely have a big part to play.
**I liked the increasing of Dr. Connors' role - but I want more. Yet another character that will be featured in any fic I write.
Okay, I think I'll stop. I probably have more thoughts... but I can't think of them now. I almost feel as if this review is an apologia for the movie, but I do see the points of everyone who didn't like the movie or certain parts of it.
Read the novelization. It will answer so many questions that people are having. And Peter David's novelizations rock. 'Nuff said. (Why did I not guess that Stan Lee would say that!)