Spiderman 3

There are three types of movies that had an effect on me early in life:

  • Star Wars — Seen during its first run in the theaters with my father. That Star Destroyer filling the screen had me hooked.
  • James Bond — Again a bonding (no pun intended) moment with my father at age 9 with Moonraker.

And then there is the third type: anything to do with superheroes.

My mother is to blame for this genre. She let me watch the Adam-West Batman series on afternoon TV, which led to watching The Superfriends on Saturday mornings. She also took me to my first superhero movie — the Adam-West Batman movie that the local public library was showing for free.

Since that time, I have tried to see every superhero movie I could. Even Batman and Robin…

Combine this love of the movie genre with the fact that my three favorite heroes growing up were Batman, Spiderman, and Green Lantern. So imagine back a few years ago when they first announced a new Spiderman franchise — I was excited.

Then the first one came out and it was tremendous.

Then the second one came out and I was just as pleased.

It’s at this point that I was lulled into delusion that maybe Spidey could avoid the “3″ curse.

What is the “3″ curse, you ask? Well, true believer, it is something I made up but is grounded in fact, as shown below:

  • Superman and Superman II were well-received; Superman III signified the ending of that chapter of the franchise.
  • Batman and Batman Returns did well enough; Batman Forever helped bring an end to Burton’s vision.
  • X-Men and X-Men 2 were also well-received; do you even remember watching X-Men 3?

So my delusional self did what it does for any big movie: I bought tickets for the midnight showing at AMC Altamonte so that I could be one of the first ones to see it in wide-release. My co-workers laughed at me doing that and my boss gave me one of those looks that said “You better not be late or call in because I know what you are up to.” The first warning bell should have gone off about the movie since I was able to get my ticket that afternoon — the other two had been sold-out for weeks.

I got to AMC at 10:30 and my Spidey-Sense was tingling. Where were all of the people? Oh, AMC let them into the theater early. I got my favorite seat and settled down. Since nothing was on the screen, I watched clips of the Muppet show on my Windows-Mobile device until the battery died. Luckily the First Look reel started, so I was ok.

At this point, you are probably wondering where my review is. Well, I wanted the buildup of the review to be in proportion to the hype of this movie.

I have tried to like this installment as much as the other two, but I can’t. For all of its budget, it seems as if the story-writing line item got left on the cutting room floor. I have joked with friends that Three’s Company seemed to have stronger plot-lines than Spidey 3 — while I did enjoy Three’s Company, it was only 22 minutes. A lot of emphasis was put into the fight scenes, showing that Sam Raimi had followed George Lucas’s recipe for Episodes I-III of Star Wars.

So, bullet-points of why I was disappointed:

  • The Superman III vibe — Battling his “bad” self to reclaim the good side, but let’s do some bad things first to get the public against him.
  • Repeating of Spidey 2 — the whole “Saturday Night Fever” sequence was a direct repeat of the “Raindrops” sequence.
  • Too many villains/Poor villain choice — There was no need for cramming in two villains that had no set-up from the other movies. Why not keep the B-story part of Harry and make Doc Connors/The Lizard the A-story? We had been setting that up for two films and I feel that is a promise unfulfilled from Raimi.
  • Gwen Stacy/Venom — Gwen and Venom felt forced. The way they are treated in the film, it is as if Raimi included them to make Spidey people happy since this would be his last Spidey film.
  • Unfulfilled plot points — why make a big deal of the suit if you are not going to explore how it is more powerful?

Overall, I walked away disappointed. Am I going to end up getting it on DVD? Yes, because I still love the genre, even if it disappoints me.

My advice: see it during AMCinema ($5) or at matinee price — it is still worth seeing in a decent theater on the big screen, just not full price…

Hot Fuzz

I hate zombie movies.

Huh? What does this have to do with a movie about police?

Well, for the past couple of years, my movie-watching pal, Spaldy, has tried to get me to watch Shaun of the Dead. I refused each time since I am not big fan of the horror genre. The conversation usually ends with her (in a playful way) mocking me about my choice.

Hot Fuzz is a new movie from the people who did Shaun of the Dead.

I got to see it at AMC Altamonte on Moviewatcher Wednesday. For those unfamiliar with Moviewatcher Wednesday, that means FREE POPCORN!!!!!

As I settle into my seat, I text-message Spaldy (now living in LA) about me getting ready to see it. The trailers start and this is the first time that every trailer shown is a movie I really want to see: Knocked Up; SuperBad; Death at a Funeral; Run, Fatboy, Run. This really makes me feel good about the movie choice I have made for the evening.

As the movie starts, I see the Studio Canal and Working Title logos. For those that do not know, I have enjoyed a majority of their films over the past 10 years, so again I am optimistic for the film.

Overall, I got exactly what I wanted out of Hot Fuzz — a fun movie that makes you forget about the world for 2 hours. Was it predictable at times? Yes. Did it matter? Not really. Our hero was a perfect straight man to the absurdity swirling around him. More importantly, the story was kept simple. From improv, I have learned that the audience wants a clear, simple story — they want to know who to root for and they want a happy ending. Does this drive paid movie critics insane? I am sure it does because it means that the same stories get released from Hollywood each year. The audience just wants to go and have fun.

Hot Fuzz delivers the fun.

My rating: it is worth full price at AMC or Regal. Light enough to take a date, with enough explosions to satisfy the action guys…

Shrek The Third

About every other summer, we, the movie-going public, hear how it is going to be “the Summer of Sequels” and how the box-office is going to be dominated by these sequels.

But consider the track record of sequels over the past 30 years or so:

The Godfather II becomes the only sequel nominated for a Best Picture Oscar — a record that stands until Lord of the Rings:The Return of the King.  The Godfather and The Godfather II are still the only movie/sequel pairing to each win the Best Picture Oscar.

The Empire Strikes Back is widely regarded as the strongest of the original three episodes of the Star Wars saga.

To balance the scale, I only need one example:  The Police Academy Series.

That all being said, we now enter into the realm of Mike Myers and his sequels….

I found myself at the Winter Park Village 20 (I know — it’s a Regal, but I was not close to an AMC).  I chose to wait an extra 30 minutes so as to not be rushed getting into the theater and missing the previews.  It was a good choice because I was able to get a pretty decent seat.  Now going to the movies solo can be fun and annoying.  People assume that those watching solo have an obligation to move seats to accommodate  families who come into the theater 1 minute before showtime.  Today, I was not in the mood to give up a seat that I chose to wait for.  I got some mean looks but I shrugged them off.  I wish I could say I remembered the trailers, but nothing really stood out.

The general feeling I came away from Shrek with was one of “they phoned it in” and one of “Mike Myers just Austin Powersed another franchise.”  The only person who didn’t seem bored with their voice work was Justin Timberlake; everyone else seemed to be counting money instead.  I just see this movie as a case of Mike Meyers not knowing when to say “The End.”  It happened with Austin Powers — first two were decent enough, but did we really need Goldmember?  The same is true here — what fairy tale really needed the Shrek twist put on it?  If one is going to tackle the parodying of Arthur, then commit to it.  What we end up getting is a lame reason to send Shrek and crew on a mission where we never really feel they are in danger.

Will kids like it? Yes, and that is why it will do well at the box-office.  Adults will find it somewhat tedious.

My advice: wait for it to hit the cheap theaters or DVD — save the theater event cash for a different show…

My thoughts on the world of movies…