(We're trying something a little different here, presenting two reviews of Spider-Man 3 in a single post -- the first by Ian Sattler, the second by John Anderson. Will our intrepid reporters agree or disagree? More importantly, will you agree or disagree with them? Read on, decide for yourselves once you've seen the movie, and don't be shy about letting us know what you think!)

Spider-Man 3 promotional image
So I saw Spider-Man 3 tonight. Many of you have now seen it and scores more will see it before the weekend's over. I'm setting the over/under for box-office at $120 million for the weekend, which I know is high so take the under and the points. For those of you out there who have not seen it...well...I don't know what to tell you. Actually yes I do:

I'll come clean right off the bat and say that I wasn't a huge fan of the last two Spider-Man films. They were OK, and I think they were extremely well crafted, but they weren't really my cup of tea. So I was expecting to go into this newest installment with pretty low expectations, but then the Venom footage from the trailers started to look pretty awesome and I started to think "Hey, this movie might be onto something." But I would never have imagined what I was in store for.

Spider-Man 3is the result of the first two movies making a trillion dollars and nobody wanting to step in and say "Listen, it seems that you're making a very long movie that's way more campy than the other two and doesn't really accomplish anything or make any sense." It was the same situation with both the Star Wars and Godfather franchises. To be honest, I forgot while watching Spider-Man 3 that I wasn't watching "Spider-Man: The Musical."

Here are some spoiler-free comments:

- Kirsten Dunst is terrible. Terrible. That crap she said last week about how any Spider-Man movie without her and Tobey and the director would flop was like saying that NYPD Blue would never last without David Caruso. She needs to sit down.

- There is a lot of singing in the film.

- There is even more crying in the film than there is singing - which is way too much.

- There are 857 characters in the movie that are all given screen time...cutting that number in half would have done wonders. What is it about comic book movies that people think you need a dozen villains and all of this supporting cast?

- Did I mention the dancing? Because with all of the singing and crying I almost forgot that there is a freaking dance-off in the middle of the movie. I can't wait to hear people try and defend this decision.

- Topher Grace and Thomas Haden Church are really good, but left with not much to do considering all the other crap that's going on. In fact, I realized that Topher Grace would have made a pretty great Peter Parker. And I think James Franco is awesome...just not as a new Green Goblin who looks like he's going to play paint-ball on a magic snowboard.

- The action scenes look amazing - BUT - they are few and far between. There is just as much singing, crying, and dancing as there is fighting in the movie. Seriously. I want to sit though the movie again with a stopwatch because the balance is insanely lopsided.

- Venom...just doesn't do enough. Looks so great but does so little.

- Evil Peter is fun...for a second. By the way, you know when he's evil because his hair changes to the other side and it looks like he's wearing eye-liner. Peter in the black suit is mostly just him looking like he writes a blog about Emo bands....which might explain all of the singing and crying and dancing.

- Dude, this flick is sooooo long. And Stan Lee needs to quit it with the cameos.

So now a lot of you will post about my crap taste in movies and how I'm a hater, and Spider-Man 3 will make a zillion dollars. I heard some people coming out of the theater who liked the move, but I also heard a lot of people laughing at it and even some walk out. So there. Take it for what you will, but man...that sure was a lot of singing, dancing and crying.

- Ian Sattler

Spider-Man 3 promotional image
"Pride Goeth Before A Fall"

I've attempted and aborted three different beginnings to this review so far, and it's now time to throw artifice out the window. Let's just talk, shall we?

I saw an advance screening of Spider-Man 3 this evening and, given what a tough ticket it was, I felt lucky to do so. Seeing what I expected to be another winner from Sam Raimi and His Amazing Friends with a theater full of hardcore fans should have been the perfect beginning to the three-day weekend I was beginning. Just so you know where I'm coming from, I thought the first Spider-Man movie was the best superhero movie ever and I really, really dug the second one. If I were a betting man, I'd have said this third outing would be on par with, if not a little better than the second one, but not quite as good as the near-perfection of the first.

Oh, how I wish that were so. After getting off to a promising start, with scenes both genuinely touching (Peter beaming from the front row as MJ debuts on Broadway; Peter talking to Aunt May about his future plans with MJ) and thrilling (the first action set-piece as Peter –in plainclothes– battles for his life through the streets, alleys and across the skyline of New York; the terrific Sandman origin sequence starring Thomas Haden Church, of Sideways fame), things take a decided turn for the worse at the start of the second act.

Or, to quote one fellow audience member, who gave voice to what I can only assume were the thoughts of a majority of the crowd when he let fly with a well-timed, "whaaaaaat?" during a certain Shark-Jumping scene that took place in Harry Osborne's kitchen,

That outburst led to titters from much of the audience. These were the first such titters during purportedly emotional scenes of the screening, but they were far from the last. I know, you're thinking, "derisive laughter from the crowd at a (pre-) opening night screening of a Spider-Man movie? That can't be..."

Oh, friends, how I wish it weren't so ... but pretty much from that scene in Harry's kitchen forward, the movie is an embarrassment to the franchise. Save for some thrilling action sequences, and typically awesome effects (the effects team really outdid themselves with Sandman and Venom), it's a disorganized mess.

I don't want to give too much away, but when they go for broad comedy in the middle section of the movie, with Peter seemingly transforming into an evil version of Conor Oberst before our very eyes, everything truly goes off the rails, and there's no turning back.

One of the messages of this movie is clearly, "pride goeth before a fall." Would that Sam Raimi and his fellow screenwriters had kept that proverb in mind themselves before attempting to foist this embarrassment upon their adoring public ... no, strike that, how about we go with an even more apt phrase that, while less bibl
ical, is even more canonical in this case: With great power comes great responsibility.

Sadly, the filmmakers didn't appear to feel it necessary to live up to the responsibilities to their loyal audience on this third outing.

More's the pity.

-John Anderson

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